“You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed” (Matthew 25:26)
In Sunday’s parable Jesus gives a hint as to how His stewards are to invest the “money” entrusted to them. In giving us the response of the wicked steward Jesus highlights a farming metaphor: Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed [v 24]. To this lazy steward Jesus continues the farming metaphor: You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed [v 26]?
The first recorded parable of Jesus is the parable of the sower. Might Jesus be returning His hearers to this parable when in the parable before us He uses the same illustration of sowing and reaping? The master’s expectation of His stewards is that they sow His seed, using what He has given them to do this.
God’s Word as a seed became an illustration of the Apostles’ work. Paul describes his apostolic work as the planting of a seed: I planted, Apollos watered, and God gave the growth [1 Co 3:6]. In his first epistle the Apostle Peter credits a Christian’s new birth to the seed of God’s Word: …you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God [1:23].
Truly the Lord Jesus created the super-powerful seed of the Gospel by His death and resurrection. This Gospel-seed must be the foundation of every sermon, every Baptism, every absolution, every celebration of Holy Communion, and of all outreach endeavors. It is by this seed that people are both brought to faith in Jesus and established in this faith. It is by this seed that the Holy Spirit enters the hearts of people, establishing them as eternal saints in Christ.
The Gospel-seed is fundamentally the “Word of the cross.” This seed, when sown, has power to grow and produce abundantly. Saint Paul explains its power: For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God [1 Cor 1:18]. And again a few verses later: …we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God…[23,24]. To the Romans Paul again sets forth the power of the Gospel: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation…[v 16].
The Gospel is a seed that is to be sown, and Christ has entrusted the sowing of this seed to His church. In this Sunday’s parable our Lord speaks of entrusting money to His servants. Though “servants” can be any Christian, yet uniquely in both the Old and New Testaments God’s called “servants” are the “official” proclaimers of His Word. They know it is their unique calling to scatter the seed of the Gospel, for they know that Jesus, even as he explains in the parable, will reap where He personally did not sow the seed…but He expects to reap! Woe to the pastor who does not thus scatter the Gospel-seed!
So what about the “money” entrusted to the servants in the parable? The money can be seen to represent all the Gospel-related opportunities entrusted to a given pastor and congregation. Not everyone will be given equal Gospel-opportunities. The “money” may represent the literal wealth by which a congregation supports the scattering of the Gospel-seed, or it may represent the community in which a congregation is located, or it may represent the willingness of God’s people to work together to support and share the Gospel. Some pastors and congregations have more and others less, but if we have less opportunities we dare not simply bury them. May we as congregations and pastors fully use the opportunities entrusted to us, and thus scatter the seed of the super-powerful Gospel within the church, as well as outside it to those who must yet come to believe in the Word of the Cross.