I noticed for the first time today that Luke's account of the sower is placed after a short introduction to some women who looked after Jesus, out of their own means, on his journey. One was probably an ex prostitute, one from Herod's household and one formerly possessed by a demon.
Mark launches into the parable at the beginning of a chapter, with Jesus teaching it from a boat as the context.
Why does Luke do this differently? How about this? Some seed falls on the path, the rocks and amongst weeds. This farmer is rubbish. Can't he aim his seed straight?
Well no. Because this farmer is not a real farmer at all but someone doing a work with the word of God. Scattering it randomly and not worrying over much about the results. The sower is sowing the possibility that God will speak and reveal himself to those amongst whom he sows. And he is generous. The word of God is always good and will bear much fruit in the right place. But dens of iniquity, evil leaders' households and demoniac gatherings were probably not the places you would describe as 'good soil.' Yet it sprouted there.
That's the grace of God for you. It is not for the preacher to worry about the seed. It is always good. It will feel pretty depressing, by and large, as again and again your best work bears no apparent fruit. But God is up to stuff. And things take a while to germinate.
It may feel as if people are ever hearing but not perceiving. It may feel as if you have, as Isaiah did, to proclaim a message that will be ignored until all the people have been carried away into exile. But the parable is simply, as Bob Clucas puts it, 'Gearing people up for disappointment.'