The Parable of the Sower
One man’s Progress

Based on Luke 84-15 and also Mat 131-23 or Mark 41-20

  unfold biblical text here
5 A sower went out to sow his seed : and as he sowed, some fell by the way side ; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell upon a rock ; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns ; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold.


The way, the rocks, the bushes and the humus. Every reader of the parable of the Sower will easily identify the four grounds where the sower’s seed is sowed. Commentators all agree to say that the Christ here evokes four types of people, four different categories of listeners. However, I like to see in this story one and one listener only. The four grounds are actually the four hearts of a man — of one and the same man.

1 · The Way: seed is trodden down by passers-by and eaten by birds.
The first ground where the seed falls is, by any human standard, the most spiritual one. It is made of black asphalt, very even, smooth and clean, shiny and pure, consciously elaborated and high-tech. That first land, boulevard-like, is the position of a man that is perfectly supervised by a most highly moral code of conduct. In that first heart, the asphalt of Laws is melted and it draws a road on which the homo sapiens tries hard to spread out all his glory. This is the heart of the religious man, of the wiseman, where the gods of the Torah work together with the gods of atheism and humanism. Those deities, avatars of the pure Reason, hover above the earth as they run our reality through their unbendable laws. This is why, when the Gospel is sowed in such a heart, the winged-Beings of scientific and religious Logic immediately come to rob the seed and take it away. « What on earth is this clown who dares challenge our authority? » ask the majestic fowls. So do they remove the seed from that man’s heart, because they are its masters. According to them, the Gospel is a much too silly and archaic discourse to be planted in the eminence of a heart they advanced by injecting high knowledge in it. Any possibility to leave the high road is then taken away from that man. That is, any possibility to step in doubt — to step in Faith.
the religious way
What the gods aren’t aware of is that the seed of the Gospel is, at the start, a fire thrown into the heart. It is in truth a plough beginning a strange work: it turns a man’s heart over, ploughing through it, inciting it to contest the moral and scientific laws which rule over it. Little by little, the Sower wants to lead the individual man to Another world. Over there, gods and truths have reverted to their serving position.

2 · The Rocks: seed springs up soon but, lacking soil, withers away the next moment.
In this context arise a tragedy, a trial, or a fall of some sort or another. That stifling heat of doubt against which the individual man had conscientiously tried to protect himself, is yet happening. Misfortune affects our man and he is overwhelmed by despair. Now, as he leaves the concrete road of the beginning, he enters his second heart. There, looking for solutions, he strays from the wisemen’s road and dares to reach to the rocky places of a world clearly less conformist and less systematic. It is there, in that new place of enthusiasm that he suddenly sees the evangelical seed crack open in him. It brings him hope in the midst of the turmoil that has just hit him – the hope of an extraordinary way out of trial. On his knees, hands thrust out to the heavens, crying, singing and praising God, our man here is right in the middle of the second type of ground: he is in the process of opening his second heart.
time of trial
Now the Gospel has just been growing to an almost technological speed that recalls the construction of the first road our man, however, thinks he has left for good. What kind of Gospel, then, is this? It is the Gospel of the artifice, of the immediacy, the Gospel of that kind of faith that wants to see in order to believe — a faith, therefore, that is not faith. This is the Gospel that bears no hardship. It is precisely for that reason that it was rewritten to become a sort of anti-hardship charm. But of course reality and its trials do not back off before illusions or other amulets, even though these would be given the noble name of the Nazarene! The circumstances’ stifling heat is in no way impressed nor disturbed by a blooming truth which is but a pseudo-revelation. Much the opposite. In the face of disillusion, powerlessness and failed hopes, and as belief evaporates under the heat, the furnace will then be doubly felt by our man. In no time at all, the great enthusiasm for the Extraordinary will burn down. This blissful heart’s spirituality will dry on the spot even faster than it had grown.
3 · The Bushes: seed fall in the middle of thorns choking their germination.
At this stage, what is our man to do? Either he will return onto the asphalt ribbon, secure and comfortable – onto the first land and into his first heart – more or less enriched by the trial and vaguely ashamed of an episode he will see as eccentric. Or he will persevere and reach his third heart, which is also the third type of soil.
Thus ploughs on the plough of the Gospel. After it turned over the tar, the seed found stones, yes, but it also found a little bit of soil where growth had succeeded in making a small breakthrough. From now on, the sower’s ploughshare is tracing deeper furrows in the heart and it discovers much more loose soil in it where seed may be deposited. Unfortunately, that soil is still too close to the first road, it still is too much influenced and contaminated by the technology of the road workers of Morals, of the scientific order, of that monotheism yelling its laws of good and evil. That ground, that heart still hopes to turn the Sower into a King of this world: the third heart also demands that the sowed word give out immediate results, and give an earthly happiness as proof for the All-Might. Unable to see that which the Gospel leads him to, our man therefore remains in deep concern for this world, for his own security and for his own prosperity – in short, for his Ego.
In the course of that third stage, whereas belief seems to find more root and moist to grow and develop, the commonest attitude of man is the following: he will build a church, a synagogue, a mosque, a university… and change the world! Much more. Thorny bushes will be transformed into religious flowers and wreaths to adorn civilization, as man offers himself to serve Society. That is to say he will be working at embellishing the first ground’s asphalt, he will try to please the first heart, to receive from it and with it the goods that the land of the Civilised men can bestow. He will build a Messiah that is commensurate with man, an idol really, a God that can be venerated without travelling over to the land of the impossible, meaning, without having to find a new heart – that of the fourth ground.
moral calling
Everything, then, has come full circle. The man in the parable is going round and round in circles around his three hearts. This trilogy makes up an optical illusion in which each heart is in the service of the other to simulate an impression of Progress. Through a certain course, at times antagonistic at other times collaborative, it all makes up a coherent and complementary whole, bringing about the well-known process of man’s positive evolution. The first three hearts of the parable of the Sower are one and the same heart, that of the « earthy man », that of the homo-sapiens for whom the fourth heart remains unattainable – this one last ground of the parable where live the men who have broken their hearts of clay — who have smashed the Adam.
4 · The Humus: seed finds a well-prepared and rich soil and harvest is plentiful.
This is the not-yet-here earth. Here below, that soil is incognito, it’s a land-from-over-there. It is the Other-man and it is a miracle — it is that coming harvest, hidden in Resurrection and hardly perceptible in our reality.
The fourth ground of the parable of the Sower is another identity. It is the nature that proceeds from the Son of man. This is the very nature that has seen the « No » of the Gospel ploughing through all human possibilities. To the man of Faith, that fourth soil is his true heart, whereas the other three are a permanent temptation to turn Christ into a reasonable and logical being, the temptation to turn Him into a co-builder of those eternal truths ruling our reality here below in such an inhumane manner. Thus the man of Faith, from the depth of his fourth heart, is engaged into a merciless fight against the return of everything religious, dogmatic or ecclesiastical - against the three hearts of the « earthy man » that still lie within him. The fruit he bears in that fight is that authentic spirituality wholly given by the Sower. An invisible fruit that no scales can weigh nor ruler can measure. That particular fruit shall be uncovered after death, for it is not about obedience nor good deeds nor virtues, but it is all about the impossible of the Resurrection.
German poet R. M. Rilke – though he loathed official christianity – wrote these words somewhere in his letters about his task as a poet. According to him, this task was about “conveying to man the familiarity death has with the deepest joys and splendors of life”. He declared that death was « party to all that which lives. »
Such is the actual meaning of the parable of the Sower — The Sower went out to sow his seed… and all along that incomprehensible work, he confidently, and without scruples, ruins the logical collusion between life and death. What is he aiming at? He is aiming at ploughing through your hearts. What is his goal? His goal is to kill you! For that reason says He also, « I am the Resurrection and the Life », as he came to put man to death and beget the son of man. Indeed, the fourth ground is that land of Resurrection that, here below, can only be grasped in the incognito. It is this extraordinary identity towards which Christ leads the one who loves him… by opening the red sea before him! That is to say, by allowing him to go beyond both Life and Death, of course… but more importantly, beyond the eternal truths of the great-One, and of reason — those gods who still ordain, with an iron fist and in our world, the two Titans on earth (Life & Death).
The four grounds of the parable of the Sower are truly a one and only heart. They stand for the advance of a man whose « earthy » hearts the Spirit is working to break, so as to uncover the impossible heart of flesh God wants to give him. And if today you are standing at the far end of all your grounds, it may be that Christ is in the course of ushering you in the impossible of that new life, of that fourth heart, of that new being that in truth you are and that he will resurrect one day, this heart that will be full of living water one day and full of the infinite possibilities [1]… Can you see its horizon yet? Can you breathe its fragrance? If, like me, you take great delight in that air, if you also enjoy to be immersed in the darkness of Faith, hoping heavens will give you to persevere in that momentum until the end… then we probably are brothers, united through that strange existential work of the Spirit. In such a brotherhood, you do understand it, there is no more Church, as it lies among the thorns and on the tarred roads of the sociable and educated people. In such a brotherhood, you do understand it now - all are akklesiastical.
a new identity

ivsan otets

[1] To quote Kierkegaard.