A man of folk-lore and legend in the Midwest is John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed. During the 1800’s he wandered the country-side of large parts of Pennsylvania, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and West Virginia planting apple orchards…some of which still stand today. This American pioneer nurseryman spent his lifetime scattering seed in hopes of a harvest someday. In these verses, Jesus is likening the kingdom of God to the mystery of germination and growth and what man’s responsibility is in it all. We are told to plant or scatter seed…the Good News of the Gospel Message, and then to allow God to do the rest. For God’s kingdom grows in His time, in His way…always moving forward. So just like Johnny Appleseed, we are to be sowers of hope and leave the progress up to God.
The early Church was forced to disperse after the stoning of Stephen, “for on that day a great persecution broke out against the Church at Jerusalem.” (Acts 8:1) Because they no longer had the support and encouragement of the Body of Believers around them they could of given up, gone into hiding, and denied their faith…but they didn’t. For it tells us in this verse that wherever they went they declared the Word of the Lord to those around them. They refused to allow persecution to silence them, and instead became Itinerant Evangelists sharing the Good News of Jesus.
All of mankind can agree….”I have strayed like a lost sheep.” (Psalm 119:176) But the wonderful thing about these verses in Ezekiel is how proactive the Lord is. It’s Him that is searching us out, looking after us, and rescuing us from the thick darkness of sin. Jesus is called the Good Shepherd who gathers and watches over His flock and tells us in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” And like the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus will leave the 99 on the hillside to go looking for the one that has wandered off. (Matthew 18:10-14) Have you strayed away from the Lord? Know that Jesus is actively looking for you today.