This past Sunday, our pastor spoke on the Parable of the Sower, and told us the story of the illustration, above. She and a friend, about 13 years ago, created the banner to go along with this parable when she was serving as a district superintendent for the Virginia Conference of the UMC. They purposely left the face unfinished, using it as the hook for the congregations she was visiting, telling them that they should picture the sower with their face, as it is every Christian’s responsibility to sow the Word of God in their situations.
As she was speaking about the parable, and as I was looking this banner, the old adage about growing where you are planted popped into my head. Only, it didn’t come to me as “Grow where you are planted,” but “Sow where you are planted.”
All too often we are content to live our lives and tell ourselves that we are letting our little light shine, that we are showing God’s love from the inside out. I have been guilty of that kind of thinking, myself, and so I am familiar with the mindset. After all, we know that wonderful chorus, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
Somehow it never gets to our message, though, does it?
I am continuing to do my research into the Jewish roots of Christianity, and I am learning about the language of the Bible, of Jesus, and how simple words that we use have deep, rich meaning in Hebrew, due to the fact that biblical Hebrew only consists of about 8,000 words (compare that with English and its 600,000).
“Shema” is the word “hear” in Hebrew, but it means so much more than listen. In many, many instances, shema means to obey. While the New Testament was written in Greek, we know that Jesus spoke in Hebrew and Aramaic, so when the teacher of the Law asked Him about the most important commandment, we know that He began his answer with the word Shema.
“Hear, O Israel, the LORD your God, the LORD is one,” he began, citing Deut. 6:4 (the beginning of the prayer that every Jew said twice a day, btw.) That statement is a call to not only hear but commit to obeying God and His Law.
To tie this idea of hearing equaling obeying, think back to the parable of the Sower and see if you can remember how Jesus ended His teaching:
“Whoever has ears, let him hear (shema).”
Understanding that Jesus told his audience to shema, we can see that He was telling His listeners to do more than just listen to His teachings. He was telling them to obey His teaching and to begin sowing where they are planted.