Extravagance. Without caution, the sower throws the seed wherever it may fall. Extravagance is the only word that I can think of to describe the scene of the sower. Slinging the seed without caution, without calculation. There is an extravagance in that act. Regardless of the soil, the seed is sown. The seed doesn’t always take root. Yet, the sower casts the seed in anticipation of the harvest. Extravagance is a good word.
Grace is a good word as well. Unmerited gift. Like that sower of the seed, God’s “seed” is cast wherever it might fall, regardless of the soil it might find. Not every soil, not every life, will allow the seed to grow. Some will immediately close their ears to the message of God’s coming Kingdom that is even now taking root among us. The seed is never tilled into the soil and thus never takes root. Others will receive it with joy, yet will quickly fade away with pressure (tribulation/ trial) or “the chase” (persecution). Like the sun withering a shallow-rooted plant, the pressure of the world conforms such people back into its mold. Still others will begin to grow but become choked by the cares of the world, by riches and their desire for things other than the Kingdom. Regardless of the soil, the seed is cast out as a gift. It is a gift that can be rejected, to be sure, but a gift nonetheless.
Such extravagance, such grace, seems to fail so often to produce the harvest. It fails to take root. It flounders under anxiety and fear. If only the sower had been more cautious to sow in soil more hospitable, more selective in the task of sowing good seed in good soil. Yet, that has never been the way of the sower. Such is the nature of grace, such is the nature of the Gardener. Though the seed seems to be an overwhelming failure, yet the Sower is not deterred. Almost imperceptibly, the seed finds good soil and takes root. It springs forth in abundance: 30, 60, even 100 times. The extravagant nature of the sower is imaged in the extravagant nature of the harvest. It is abundant, full, and overflowing. The seeming failure of the seed and the sower is proved to be wisdom rather than folly, hope rather than despair. Such is the nature of grace, such is the nature of God.
Such is the nature of Jesus – that Good Seed of the Kingdom of God. The cross was folly, it was extravagant. It appears to be failure of the greatest magnitude: the death of a criminal. Yet, the Seed was thrown into the soil of Creation. Although it appeared to be wasted extravagance, yet the resurrection unleashed the power of the abundant harvest, which has produced fruit beyond the imagination. Jesus’ words to his disciples scatter them like seed back into the world: “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Freely we have received, freely we must give that same grace that was lavished upon us. Sling the seed upon whatever soil you might find and watch what God might do as the seed finds good soil. Yet, even if our sowing seems in vain, fling God’s grace, which cannot be exhausted, as faithful sowers anticipating the harvest – even if we don’t get to see its fruit now.