Text and image by Rick McVicar
Jesus describes the workings of an agricultural ecosystem in the Gospel of Mark when he tells a crowd the Parable of the Sower (4:1-20, NIV).
The parable tells what happens to seeds as a farmer scatters them on and around his field. Jesus provides a lengthy explanation, highlighting the story as being crucial to his mission.
The farmer represents Jesus, and the seeds are his words (v. 14). After the seeds are received, they become the people who hear those words (v. 15).
Lots of mishaps can happen to prevent the seeds from sprouting and taking root. They may fall on a path and be eaten by birds. Seeds may fall on rocks or upon thorns. They may fall on hard soil and get baked by the sun. However, a few seeds will grow and produce up to one hundredfold, more than enough food for everyone.
Is Jesus displaying a preference for plant food? After all, he makes no mention of a farmer’s livestock. Jesus does not compare himself to a cow or goat giving milk. He does not see himself as an ox pulling a heavy burden. He does not even mention a sheep, which has long been associated with Jesus throughout the history of the church.
No, Jesus does not see himself as a sacrificial lamb. He sees himself as a farmer sowing seeds.
In my own personal life, I have given up meat products for the sake of the planet. Time and again, Jesus does not just talk about food. He talks about how we get our food as well. Of course, how Americans get their food in the 21st century is a lot different than how food was produced in Jesus’ era.
Meat production in America depends on one crucial crop, corn. Corn is a key ingredient for livestock feed. Millions of acres in America are devoted to corn. I have often wondered how many acres are needed to feed one cow. I am sure that is a lot of land for a single animal.
That is land that could be converted back to trees and forests. Or the land may be used for a variety of crops rather than being devoted to a single crop. There might be more people fed by multiple crops rather than a devotion to one type of plant.
I hope I have provided you with some food for thought. May you have artful health today.
Click on image to view animated poetry video (YouTube).