Sowing the Seed

By James Merritt

One of the greatest encouragements for and lessons about evangelism is found in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. It is simple in its teaching but strong in its implications. Jesus taught three simple truths in this passage that not only reminds us of our role in evangelizing but God’s role in the ultimate results. I was reminded of this on a recent trip to New York City to spend a few days with my son Jonathan.

First, I took a cab to Brooklyn with a driver named Mohammed. I immediately started asking him where he was from (Indonesia) and his spiritual background (Muslim). I asked him how long he had been driving a cab (nine years) and then my big question: “Have any of your clients ever talked to you about Jesus?” He smiled and said “not many.” I asked if he minded doing so, and he said “sure.”

From the get go, let’s just say there were plenty of birds circling around to pluck the seeds before they hit the ground. (Matthew 13:4) As practically all Muslims do, he denied that Jesus was the son of God and that He really died on the cross much less was raised from the dead. However, he reiterated his belief in a salvation by works and his corollary uncertainty that he would indeed be good enough for God.

I then explained to him that those two things were characteristic of every other religion in the world. I challenged him that the only “good enough” for a perfect God is perfection, and his “good enough” would never be good enough! I then explained the one thing that separates Christianity from every other religion in the world (which also means it isn’t even a religion in the truest sense of the word), which is grace. I explained that what every other religion is trying to achieve (forgiveness, eternal life, nirvana, paradise, etc.) is a gift bought and paid for by the crucified risen Lord.

Mohammed wasn’t buying it totally, but he did agree to take one of my “SURE” cards and read it. No decision, no convert, no harvest but I was faithful in “sowing the seed.”

Then two days later I found myself in deep conversation on the subway with a man named Ismael. Jonathan and I were discussing the issue of the judgment of God and His review of our lives when Ismael interjected that he was robbed at gunpoint and saw his entire life flash before his eyes. From there I was treated frankly to a bizarre, non-stop diatribe that ranged from his having a magic water that cures cancer to something about a snake being expelled from his body after drinking said water, to a denial of the historicity of Jesus and an eclectic view of God and his version of salvation that would have left Einstein totally confused.

This lasted until our stop where he got off with us and I said “Ok, it’s my turn.” I shared with him that there is not a reputable historian on the planet that denies either the historical reality of Jesus nor his crucifixion. The game changer I asserted was the resurrection. I gave him a version of Pascal’s wager and asked him if he owned a Bible. He said he did. He then agreed to read the gospel of John and ask two questions after each chapter: 1) Who did Jesus claim to be? 2) What am I going to do about it? I gave him information on our media ministry and a way to contact me and I would follow up with him if he did.

Again, no decision, no convert, no harvest but I was faithful in “sowing the seed.” Now there was no rejoicing in the presence of the angels on either repenting but I know there was a smile on the face of my Heavenly Father for just “sowing the seed.”

I was reminded of the three lessons of the parable when it comes to evangelism concerning us, the person we are witnessing to, and God’s part namely:

  • Our part is sowing the seed.
  • Their part is receiving the message.
  • God’s part is producing the harvest.

So let’s just fill our bag each day, and drop our seed along the way and leave the results to God knowing we get the joy of sowing and God gets the glory of reaping.

Published May 30, 2018

James Merritt

Pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Georgia.