Lenten Devotional: Friday, March 2

by Joel Siebentritt

Mark 4: 1-9 (NRSV), The Parable of the Sower: Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

Jesus.  What an amazing teacher.

I find myself in the crowd captured by his voice, his presence, trying hard to hear the words he is saying.  I’m using my ears and my memory, mostly so I can take home the lesson and tell other people what I know!

Unfortunately, this rabbi doesn’t make it easy for me to live by rote learning.  His teaching offers no specific formulas for solving problems nor does it give clear direction for how to succeed. Nothing for me to memorize and no information building blocks on which I can stack more in hopes of growing just by knowing.

I’m struggling with impatience … I just want the answer!

There must be something more, something I’m not getting. I can only figure he’s telling me to listen, but to hear differently … to ingest, absorb, let the parable sink in and work its pedagogical magic.  How??

My mental meandering and selfish motives constantly get in the way of paying attention and really hearing with all that I am.

It is for this reason I am grateful for Lent and for our listening theme. It strikes me again that hearing and knowing is OK, but not really the point of Jesus’ teaching. There is much greater power in the parables, beyond all knowing to a transformed way of being.

Later in that chapter of Mark, Jesus explains the parable to his disciples ending with,

And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

Prayer: Loving God, give me ears open enough to hear your healing words and a heart broken enough to accept your will for my life.