Is the parable open to multiple interpretations, or is it making one point ?
Many scholars (most ?) think that these verses were added by the early church. The interpretation offered in these verses make the parable an allegory, with each part of the parable representing something different. The purpose of the parable is then to encourage self examination … How does my life match up ? Am I being fruitful ? Are there things that are choking the work of God in my life … etc.
Another widely held view (Jeremias) is that Jesus did not intend the parable to be treated in such a way. The early Christians added these verses, but Jesus was actually making just one point. That is, God’s ultimate purpose (the Reign of the Kingdom of God) is now visible and will be fully achieved in the end. The fullness of the Kingdom is represented by the harvest at the end of the parable in v. 9.
Whichever view you hold on how to read the parables, it is clear that this parable is about the work of God in the world, and that the seed is the image chosen for this work.
At the beginning of my week’s learning about trauma and trauma healing, we were all invited to share a symbol of some trauma that we had known. The events shared were deeply moving, as people talked about some of the most painful experiences it is possible to have.
At the end of the week, we were invited once more to share – this time a symbol of hope for recovery. One of the group said simply – My symbol of hope is this group – this small group of people who are committed to being involved in bringing transformation to traumatised people and situations. I think we were 26 in number, not many. But in using the seed as a picture of the kingdom Jesus gives hope that even a few people can make a big difference.
You see how it is with the seed …. says Jesus … this is how it is in the Kingdom of God.