“ON EAGLES”WINGS MINISTRIES”
“See how I bare you on eagles’ wings and brought you unto myself.” Exodus 19:4
Royce Kennedy ◊ 909 Whistling Duck Drive ◊ Largo, MD 20774
“The Sower—The Seed—and The Harvest; What made the difference?” July 2011.
“Behold a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 13: 3-9.
There is an enormous amount of truth wrapped within the confines of these few verses, and each truth can be applied to people and lifestyles that we are familiar with. Where each seed fell and the process that followed can make for inspirational preaching and teaching. The purpose of this study is not to dissect and analyze each verse and the truth wherein it is woven. Our main focus will be centered on the harvest and its different dimensions that resulted from a single planting by the sower.
Productivity and excellence are factors associated with successful people the world over. Under-achievers and non-achievers are counted for less, and blame is usually leveled at individuals for being lazy, for lacking ambition, or for being raised on the wrong side of the railroad track. Whether we like it or not, in society, people are measured and rated by income level, their social standing, their achievements, and how much they contributed to the health and well being of others.
In Matthew 13 alone, Jesus offered six parables and each one is jammed packed with goodies for exhorters, preachers and teachers. We could spend long hours expounding on the parable of the sower and the seed. We could move on to the parable of the mustard seed, noting that each one of these parables contain enormous truths. We can move forward to the parable of the lady with leaven being placed into three measures of meal. We are obliged to move on to the parable of treasure hid in a field, and learn the parable of the net cash into the sea, and follow up with the parable of the householder who brought out treasure both old and new.
There are many moving parts to each and every one of these parables. As we are likely to do as we proceed, we can learn from the sower, we can learn from the seed, we can learn from the ground into which the seeds were planted, and we can learn from the result at harvest time. We have named six parables that are up for discussion in their true light.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus was not offering a lesson in horticulture which is the science of growing plants. It was not about being a successful farmer, or an expert finder of precious metals and priceless pearls. Our Lord was not offering a lesson on fishing with nets and bringing in the greatest catch of the day. All of these major points can make for good sermons at conventions or camp meetings, and with a little research can make a book interesting and very informative; but that is not what Jesus had in mind when he opened his mouth to utter these truths spoken at the beginning of each parable. Listen very carefully to Jesus once more! “Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word (we are often tried by the word we receive) by and by he is offended. The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field. The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field. The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind. Then he said unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” Matthew 13:18-21,24,31,33,44,45,47,52.
In Luke’s narrative of the same lesson we read: “Unto what is the kingdom of God like? And whereunto shall I resemble it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree.” Luke 13: 18. The point is that Matthew called it the kingdom of heaven, and Luke called the same object the kingdom of God thus rendering no difference between the terms used in scripture. But more than that notice that just about every parable set forth by Jesus is about the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God. Not one is about planting seeds, buying land, hunting for treasure, baking cakes, or going fishing.
Like I said before, all of these various factors can figure splendidly into sermons, workshops and seminars, and they can be very informative. But to teach them as being anything other than truths about the kingdom of heaven is to prove that we did not hear a word that Jesus spoke. Or like Nicodemus we only heard earthly things and even then, did not understand what Jesus taught. Let us look at the end to understand why we have to go back to the beginning and do a “re-run” as they say in the entertainment industry.
According to Jesus, when harvest came around and the reapers entered the field and gathered the precious fruits into the barn, it was noticed that some brought forth a hundred fold, some sixty fold, and some thirty fold. This is the main point of our study.
Obviously, the husbandman or the farmer knew the correct time of year to plant his seeds. Today, we turn to the Farmer’s Almanac and can surf the Internet to determine the most ideal time or even the exact day in spring that is best for sowing seed. In the case of the parable, we must assume that the sower knew how to identify good seed that are best for planting, while some are only good for feeding animals on the farm. Jesus embraced this thought by saying, “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field.” It seems to me that all elements needed to ensure a good harvest was in place, because the good man knew the correct time and perhaps the correct day to sow his seeds. We must also assume that the soil was ideal because Jesus alluded to that fact.
“But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it.” Yet, all things being equal, harvest produces unequal results as we shall observe in a while. In our school system back home in Jamaica, West Indies, religious knowledge was an integral part of our curriculum and it was possibly in the third grade that my teacher explained that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly
meaning. Why did Jesus teach using so many parables each one being a metaphor? In St. Luke 19 we read that Jesus entered the house of a man named Zachaeus and during the course of ensuing events, he said publicly: “This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Naturally, to keen listening ears, this opened up another line of discussion and Jesus was obliged to clarify his remark.
“And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. Notice that the kingdom of God appearing is an announcement that differs completely different from the Church as His Body. “He said there, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.” Luke 19:5-12.
Once again it is evident that each parable tells the story of the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven. The entire ministry of Christ was about the kingdom of God and as he sent forth his disciples to preach he commissioned them to teach and preach that single message of the emerging and unfolding kingdom here on earth among men.
This truth is always accompanied by the fact that these realities are always unfurled on earth, and that God himself came down to earth to dwell with us and we at no time went up to heaven to dwell with him there. Rightly enough, Brother Kennedy did not write those truths; I only quote them as I retell the whole story of how the kingdom of God came to earth, of how God and his holy city, New Jerusalem, came down to earth, and how Christ made us kings and priests to God and made us to reign with him on the earth.
Jesus taught in parables, alluding to natural and ordinary things that his audience could identify with. He taught in a way that a child could understand and even so the people had difficulty getting their arms around the truth Christ dispensed. Listen to this short dialogue! “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” Matthew 13:10-12.
Amazingly enough, this is the way all governments rule! Right now, at this very moment, here in these United States, law makers are crafting laws designed to take away from the poor and give it to the rich, just like Jesus said it would happen. Listen to Jesus again, under a different set of circumstances. “For I say unto you, that unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him which hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.” Luke 19:26. It is obvious that Jesus was not surprised over the fact that the people could not grasp the truth of his sermons. He himself alluded to the reasons. “And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear , and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” Matthew 13: 14-15. Let us turn our attention to what happened at harvest time. Among the seeds that fell into the “good ground” some yielded fruit in diverse measures.
“But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundred fold, some fifty, some thirty.” Verse 23. This raises a bunch of questions and over the years many have gone off to create three levels of classification among the children of God. Out of this single verse we have heard the terms, hundred folders, sixty folders, and thirty folders. Without trying or being able to offer a single verse of scripture, many in the rank and file of Sonship and Kingdom have pointed to Evangelicals as being thirty folders, Pentecostals as being sixty folders, and we who are advanced and walking in kingdom truths are the hundred folders. Please forgive me for being blunt and honest, but if it relates to good living and fervent dedication to biblical truths, I have seen many so-called thirty folders who are more convincing than as hundred folders than many who lay claim to that classification. I cannot for the likes of me, understand what measuring rod or criteria we can use to distinguish between the three levels of productivity set forth by Jesus Christ.
Let me put it this way in simple terms. If I give ten percent of my $500 salary, and my neighbor gives ten percent of his $1,000 pay check, and still, his neighbor gives ten percent of his $3,000 salary, tell me who gave more than the other! To the eyes the last person mentioned gave more. But in realistic terms each person gave equally, not based upon the amount he gave from or the amount he had left over. Ten percent is exactly what it is even if the figures differ.
In other words, the seeds that produced thirty fold produced at their given potential; so did those that produced sixty fold and an hundred fold. Why is this so? It is because among men or mankind at large, each person’s potential differs one from the other and God does not require any of us to break rules and deal unfairly simply to break even with others. In politics and even in the U.S. Constitution we read that all men are created equal, and technically that is not true. First of all, please excuse me, but many great thinkers on the Internet do back me up on this; that the statement in the constitution referred only to white men, and moreover, white men who were property owners. Remember that it took another 140 years for women to be granted the right to vote.
Jesus recognized this truth and spoke about it in this parable. I like this version of events because it spells out exactly what we are talking about. “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.” Matthew 25:14,15. We love to say that God does not renew our old heart; he simply gives us a new heart. He brings death to the old man as he unveils the new man. But God seldom change the vessels we are. There are exceptions in just about every case, but in general I write like brother Kennedy, I preach and teach like brother Kennedy; not like brother Eby or brother Elwin or brother Scott, or brother Sigler. I have found that my limitations are designed to allow for other members of the body to function adequately. I have noticed over the years that in the body of Christ, where I reach my limit, another person fills the gap and so does another then another, and that results in each member of the body functioning like a body with joints and marrow holding together a well balanced body capable of meeting the needs of all its members. Yes, as men or members of the human race we are all equal. In my life, my multi-racial mix has never been a subject that begged for my attention. I have never had the need to discuss it or deny it or even wish it were not so. Why? Because first and foremost, I am a human being; a full-fledged member of the human race. But we must remember that out of the same lump, the potter created vessels fitted for destruction to show forth is wrath, and also vessels fitted for mercy to show forth his mercy. In a good man’s house there are vessels unto honor and
unto dishonor. In the parable of the talents, the master gave each servant talents based upon their several abilities. A servant got just one talent but we have to believe that the master knew that his ability dictated how many he got. Let us assume that he did like the idea of receiving a single talent. Let us assume that he could not get over the indignity of not receiving ten talents, and if that was not bad enough, surely he could have handled five like his fellow servant. Of course, the master was correct for even the one he received was too much for him to do anything worthwhile with. He hid it in a safe place to hand it back to his lord upon his return. His lord had him pegged alright!
“Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gathered where I have not strawed. (That was no excuse) Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.” Matthew 25:26,27. In 1971 I founded End-time United Church in Norfolk, Virginia, and we had a few elderly sister who were dear folks. In Sunday school when everyone would read a verse of scripture individually, a precious mother said, “Elder, I cannot read.” I replied, “sister_____I know you cannot read, so spell the word and we will pronounce it together. Take your time and do what you can. I already know what you can or cannot do, but we are here to help you learn.”
God does not expect any one of us to accept Christ as Savior, and quickly run off to turn the world upside down. Saul, upon his conversion began to talk about Jesus right away. But then he headed into seclusion into Arabia where he began to “learn Christ.” Let us consider Moses for a moment. This is what Stephen said of him: And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.” Acts 7:22.Now let Moses speak for himself! “And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” Exodus 4:10.
Do you think Moses was lying in his account of himself? I do not think so! Let me tell you what I think. He learned just about everything about Egypt but not very much about God. He fled to the backside of the desert for forty years during which time the very things he learned in Egypt was emptied out of him even the language of Egypt. Now he had to learn God’s language for God could not use what he acquired in Egypt. When he was not ready to do God’s bidding, he thought he was and moved prematurely that ended in his flight into solitude and forty years of ridding himself of all things Egyptian, and learning how to yield to a the power of the God of the Hebrews. Our Father does not ask us to trade in what we are just so he can use us for his glory. All he asks of us, is that we bundle all that we learned and all that we acquired by head knowledge and personal ambitions, and lay them at his feet, then as a new born babes ask to be taught his ways by applying the sincere milk of the word.
Do not forget that we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7. As human beings we are all made out of one blood; (Acts 17:26) but each person is endowed with different capabilities, and different amount of fortitude. We develop resilience and adaptability out of life’s experiences as our several God-given gifts will allow. To HIM be praise and glory!
The weakness in one is usually compensated by the strength of another showing balance. In this parable, every seed had the potential to germinate, grow, and bring forth fruit. The sower scattered the seeds exactly the way it is usually done by the professionals. But some fell by the wayside. Remember this entire story is depicting the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God. Those that fell by the wayside became food for the fowls of the air. Many hear the word of the kingdom but the moment they turn aside, outside influence snatches the word and it is gone.
Other seeds fell upon stony ground with shallow soil. They quickly sprang up because of the thinness of the soil. But when they begin to be tested by the very word of the kingdom that they embraced so willing, they had no depth and quickly withered and were scorched. If we care to apply this metaphor to evangelism in its true sense, this is exactly how it works. Results can never be measured according the text books used in the classrooms. By the same token, if the sowers do not understand these dynamics in terms of results, they are likely to become disheartened and frustrated.
Do not forget that good seeds fell into good ground, at the correct season for sowing seeds as determined by the sower. But even with all elements and factors playing positive roles, the harvest is going to show mixed results. Good seeds; Good ground; Expert Sower; Correct season for planting; and we call this—all things being equal. Everything is coming up roses in this scenario!
Judging by what we just offered as a level playing field, the bumper crop should show no variations at harvest time. Since the sower had no way of analyzing the yielding potential of each seed prior to planting them, it must be assumed that a higher power governed the germinating and growing process. It is like a teacher with a class of 30 students, or a minister teaching members of his congregation every Wednesday night. Both persons are gifted in their vocation, but rest assured that each and every student will not achieve the same result, because some folks have a natural aptitude to be fast learners, while others require more time and perhaps a slower pace.
Many motivational speakers will tell us to always challenge ourselves by setting high goals. But by the same token they will tell you not to set unrealistic goals for yourself that are likely to be unattainable. By doing so, you will simply blow yourself out of the race
and crush yourself into defeat. Although I teach Sonship and Kingdom, I also minister in churches where the congregations are happy on the level of being born again and waiting to go to heaven.
I walk in not to tell them what little they have and how much they will never have if they remain in their cocoon. I join them in giving thanks for where they have come, and for God bringing them from so far. But I always offer something for which they must reach up and take a hold of, and to do that they must get out of the cuckoo’s nest without even realizing how high they are actually reaching for. We sow the seeds; we water around the roots and weed away the wild grass and shrubbery. But having done all we are required to do, and our months of hard labor are passed, we gather the fruit into our barns. We organize a big night for garnering the rich rewards of our labor. I suppose if we are seasoned farmers or sower of seeds, we know to set out vessels for a hundredfold; other vessels for sixty fold; and receptacles for thirty fold.
The seasoned sower will not be surprised at the result, because that is the way it has always been. Friend; that is the way Father has designed it in his infinite wisdom.
What Jesus did in this parable, was to weave for us a tapestry of divine principles to which we should adhere, and in so doing, avoid schism within the body of Christ. As we know and have observed over many decades of Christian work and association with those who lead and teach the body of Jesus Christ has a single standard. Back in 1982 in Ottawa, Canada, I sat in a friend’s home as she outlined her early Christian philosophy which was based upon “no middle ground.” She grew up in what can be called a “hard line” Christian doctrine. She said; “Brother Kennedy, for me even at the age of twelve, either you were saved or lost. Either you were on your way to heaven, or on your way to hell.” With that mindset, she knew nothing about mercy and tolerance, until as the years elapsed, certain events transpired in her life for which others needed show her mercy and out that episode, she learned mercy. That is why Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” We receive mercy in the amount we have shown!
After I came to America as an evangelist, I quickly ran into local churches that carry the banner of “Holiness” while some are called “Pentecostal Holiness.” Of course, holiness is based upon their interpretation of certain scriptures and what they determine holiness to be. Of course, in truth and practical terms, holiness cannot be acquired by our good deeds, no matter what those deeds are. God accepts us, not by our good works, but according to his good pleasure and grace given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began. 2 Timothy 1:9. In the parable, the sower of seeds was not surprised at what the harvest produced, and the result obviously not used to determine quality. Our Lord did not infer that the thirty fold was inferior, the sixty fold was mediocre, and the hundred fold was of superior quality. Quality of the grain gathered into the barn was not an issue, because they were the product of good seeds planted into good soil, in an ideal season.
As I ministered on the road in these United States, I began to hear little phrases among various congregations that I never heard or used back in my country. For instance I heard the phrase, 99 and a half won’t do, it must be an hundred. Taken in practical terms, many who struggled over time to measure an hundred and constantly failed finally gave up trying, and in many cases simply walk away from the local assembly. In practical terms, who does the measuring? Who determines what each person measures up to? All of this is based upon outward objects and reasoning such as being in church every time the doors are opened, paying your tithes, giving to the building fund and the pastor’s aid.
The Lord already knows that holiness must be acquired as a nature that is found in Christ, and not by church rituals and empty ceremonies. So the lesson contained within the parable, is understanding the result at harvest time. The wise sower knows that every seed will not produce the same abundance of an hundred fold. But whether it is an hundred, or sixty, or thirty, the sower can offer a blessing and thanks for a fruitful harvest. He knows that every seed produced what it was capable of and that meant every seed produced at its maximum capacity. Isn’t that what God requires of us? Sometimes as parents, we push our children, saying, I know you are smart! I know you can do it! With very good intentions we sometimes overlook the child’s ability and try to force the kind of result we envision. Among your children, possibly one or more are not book smart, but can work wonders with their hands. Each person is endowed with different abilities and so we live and function to the benefit of the human family at large as required of the Creator. Our lives are full of pluses and minuses, but as a whole we succeed and even excel.
Royce O. Kennedy