The Sower…and His Sons

Mark 4:2-8; Luke 15:11-32

Recker_Kreisel_sm copyListen, my friends and you will hear,
Some stories that will not be new to your ears.
For today’s translation is sure to surprise,
So pay attention, and open your spiritual eyes…

A sower went out one day with his seed
Yet he took only half of the help he would need.
His older son, Jeb, would be found by his side,
But his younger son, Eb, had ventured out in the wide-
open spaces because he said to his Dad,

“I’ve had a great time here, really I have.
But there has to be more than this life on the farm
I need some excitement—a girl on each arm!
You’re throwing seeds, but I’ve got oats to sow!
I’m outta here, Dad! Can I please have my dough?”

So a sorrowful Dad and his dutiful son,
Were out throwing seeds when the birds began to come.
Old Jeb said right quick,

“Dad, the future is bleak
For any seed on the path—it goes right to the beak!”

His father said,

“Son, you are wise, I can see!
I’m glad that you’re here—you’re a great help to me.”

So they sowed and they sowed till their seed was all gone
Then Daddy Zeb and son Jeb turned and headed for home.
Now Jeb stewed all day since he worked twice as hard
Because his brother Eb had left him holding all the cards
He thought to himself,

“I worked out in that heat,
While my no-good brother’s probably sitting down to eat
At a five-star restaurant with some fine-looking chicks!
Why the thought of it’s starting to make me feel sick!”

Speaking of Eb, the youth in absentia,
He was living a life of financial dementia.
He partied each night till the break of the dawn
Each morning finding friends who’d passed out on his lawn.
His approval rating, soon was higher than most,
And because he was buying, his friends would all toast,
Saying,

“Eb is the greatest! He’s our new best friend!”

And Eb basked in the glory he thought wouldn’t end.
Guys said,

“Man, he’s cool! His soirees are the best!”

Dolls said,

“He’s so cute! He is always well-dressed!”

But then, one day, quite out of the blue,
Bills started to come, and they all said,
“PAST DUE.”
In a flash he was minus his car and his boat!
Gone next, his apartment, his hat, and his coat!
And as soon as his friends recognized the situation,
Did they comfort Eb in his desperation?
Yeah right! They all dried up like grass in the summer
Life had just hit the skids, and he said,
“What a bummer!”

(You’d think that since they had been there for the good,
His friends would all stay—Yes! Of course, they all would!)
But that wasn’t the case, and Eb failed to see
That their departure came with a great irony.
The former friends left, saying just what he had:

“We’ve had a great time here, really we have.
But life in the fast lane is what we’re about,
And you’re out of gas, so we’re heading out.
We might have all stayed, if you still had your speedboat,
But we’re outta here now! So, adios amigo!”

And to make matters worse, if you could imagine,
No sooner had they left, than there came a great famine!
And if poor Eb had thought things couldn’t get worse…
Well, they could, and he was stuck with a Jewish boy’s curse!
He was mired in a job where you couldn’t go lower
This boy, who’d run out on his father, the Sower.
The only work in this land of the famine he’d find
Was to feed a small herd of disgusting, unclean swine.
Yep, things were so bad that as he slopped out their food
Even the pods pigs were eating began to look good.

Now of course this whole drama took more than a week,
And back on the farm, crops were starting to peak.
Older brother Jeb was doing well now,
His seeds were full grown and he’d bought him a cow,
As harvest grew closer, he began to discover
That he was much richer, than his stupid younger brother.
He surveyed his fields and he said to his Pops:

“I’ve noticed a difference in some of our crops.
Some of the seeds, came up really fast,
But they withered away, and they didn’t last.
Was there something wrong with the seed that we threw?
Or a problem with moisture, the rain and the dew?”

The wise father said,

“No, the problem is below,
Rocks under the surface, are why nothing grows.
Oh, it grows well at first, springing up awfully quick,
But its roots have nothing on which they can stick.
What looks good at first, soon dries and turns brown,
For seeds cannot thrive on infertile ground.”

“Well, Dad,”
said Jeb,
“What about all those weeds?
Were they in the mix when we cast out our seeds?
Because that patch looked great from the start,
Then weeds sprang up, their growth off the chart!
They crowded our wheat, taking its food and water,
And soon ours were dead, not even good for fodder.”

His Daddy was pleased and he smiled to himself
Cause his oldest son surely would increase his wealth.
For now they both looked at their prosperous fields,
With 30 and 60 and 100-fold yields.
This intense bumper-crop was surely unheard of,
They stood at the fence, then they looked above.
They knew that they’d helped with their hard work and sweat,
But this harvest was far from the finish line yet,
And though Zeb and Jeb were the ones who would sow,
Only the Lord, tells the seeds how to grow.
And so both were grateful, thanking God for the day,
Then Jeb left his dad to feed his cow, Deb, some hay.

So Dad watched the sunset painting the sky,
Then he glanced down the road, and he started to cry.
Everyday that had passed since Eb left the farm,
His father had prayed,
“Lord, keep my son safe from harm!”

For despite how his son had disgraced Zeb and snubbed him,
A Dad’s always “Daddy,” and he’d always love him.
So he prays, and makes offerings to cover Eb’s sin,
And his love holds out hope that he’ll see him again.
As sunset begins and as Dad lights his torch,
He also lights a candle for his son on the porch.
And far out of sight of love’s flaming candle,
A boy’s head hang’s low, with more than he can handle….

[“Home Tonight” by Chris Rice]

So a party was started for a son who was lost,
He was back from the dead! So his Dad spared no cost!
He killed Deb, the cow, to serve at the feast,
(Don’t you think that he should’ve asked Jeb, at least?)
Well, speaking of Jeb, he’d been out hard at work,
When he heard a commotion and he started to smirk,
He thought,

“A surprise party for my dedication!
My dad’s the most loving man in this whole nation!”

Well, yes—and no, Jeb, a surprise is for sure,
But it’s a party for your brother, who’s been out on tour.
And that delicious aroma that’s wetting your lips…
That’s your best friend, Deb: medium-rare beef tips!

So who can blame Jeb for exploding in rage
Pacing outside the party like a beast in a cage?
Dad came running out, joy turning to sorrow,
Eb returned today, but would Jeb leave tomorrow?

“Daddy why have you never done this much for me?
When I’ve WORKED and I’ve sweated planting all of your seed?
But this loser who wasted your money on women
Comes home and there’s cooking and dancing and swimming!”

The father shook his head, he’d been misunderstood,
The party, the dancing, was all meant for good.
So he said, with his heart overflowing with love,

“Son, your brother’s return is a gift from above!
He was dead—he’s alive! He was lost—now he’s found!
Hear the laughter, the music, and the merriment sound?
So please, come inside, and join my celebration
If you do, I can guarantee you’ll see a revelation:

My party’s not about all the mistakes of my boy,
It’s about a loving Dad, who wants all to share his joy!”

And so our story ends, with the end still up for grabs,
You’ve heard it all before—the seeds, the 2 sons and their dad.
So at this point, God’s story is told,
And a question comes, for young and old…
That the Father is God, we’re certain you knew,
But where in our story, is the person called “YOU”?

Are you hard like the road? Or maybe you’re shallow?
Or do the cares of this world, cause your life to be fallow?
Or maybe you’re faithful, maturing, and growing,
Your fruits of the Spirit would surely be showing!

Or maybe, like Jeb, you’ve always been good,
Doing just what’s expected, going to church like you should.
Or maybe, like Eb, you’re running away,
From the Love-that-loves-too-much to force you to stay.

These truths from Christ were spoken, long ago, and here today,
For folks with weeds,
hard hearts,
no depth,
for those who run or stay.

His love is always waiting, like the rainbow after rain,
He loves poor soil, and prodigals, and good kids all the same.

So which one in our story are you? It’s time now to decide,
Would you rather miss the party, or will you come inside?
If you’ll let down your defenses, you’ll feel the Father’s warm embrace,
Let’s all come to our senses, and accept God’s restoring grace.

This post originally appeared on First Baptist Greensboro’s blog.

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