Seeds & Soils
Luke 8:4 And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable:
√ Seeds & soils
Chapter 8 records the third, and longest to this point, parable recorded in Luke’s Gospel. It’s been a few chapters since we looked at parables so it would be good time to ask…
"What is a parable?
"Parable" is a transliteration of para~bole, literally means…
"to throw along side"
That is, so that the hearer may compare something that is familiar…
…with something new and unfamiliar to them by laying them side by side.
More than simply an analogy, or an illustration, a parable communicates heavenly truths (spiritual) using earthly (material) comparisons.
Meant to help our natural minds comprehend divine truths, or spiritual experience, by using familiar experiences.
Jesus used this form of teaching often, in fact there are 35 parables recorded by the Gospel writers.
People and Provision (vs. 1-3)
Luke 8:1 Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him,
Luke 8:2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons,
Luke 8:3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.
√ People and provision
These three verses seem almost incidental to the Luke’s historical account of Jesus’ ministry ~ stuck as they are between the great miracles and the compassion of Jesus recorded in chapters 7 and 8.
What then is Luke’s purpose in indentifying a few of the ladies who ministered to Jesus and His disciples?
First of all to provide the reader with the identity of some of the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life and ministry. Remember, Luke told us the purpose for which he wrote his Gospel in his opening salutation…
“it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.
Here then are the names of three woman who were well known in the early Church who could vouch for the accuracy of Luke’s account.
(Good chance they were some of the eyewitnesses that Luke interviewed for his Gospel.)
Second, to remind us that every person involved in the work of the Kingdom is important!
Remember, Luke of all the Gospel writers focused on individual people ~ those to whom Jesus ministered & those who ministered to Him.
So, while the focus of the Gospel is on Jesus, and rightly so, nonetheless, Luke reminds us that Jesus was surrounded by a faithful group of people who provided for His needs so that He could focus on what He was supposed to ~ preach and teach!
Ap. Ministry takes all kinds of people
Did you notice that the woman mentioned here, Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna, did nothing more than…
“…provide(d) for Him from their substance.” ~ vs. 3
That is, out of their own resources they made sure that Jesus and His disciples were fed and clothed.
No miracles, nothing spiritual, in fact just normal practical everyday cooking, cleaning, and mending.
However, the Holy Spirit prompted Luke to record their names and their service to Jesus because it was necessary and appreciated.
Their faithful service freed up Jesus to do what He was called to do!
So, be encouraged if you’re called to cook, clean, weed, and you never do anything that even remotely looks “spiritual”…
…your labor is necessary and appreciated by Jesus and recorded in a book of remembrance!
The Parable of the Sower (vs. 4-8)
Luke 8:4 And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable:
Luke 8:5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it.
Luke 8:6 Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.
Luke 8:7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it.
Luke 8:8 But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
√ The Parable of the Sower
Note that Jesus uses something familiar to His audience, farming, to communicate something unfamiliar…
…how different people respond to the Kingdom message.
Ex. An agrarian culture
The people to whom Jesus was ministering understood farming because they all did it to some extent.
That is, if you wanted to live you had to plant seed to produce life-giving food.
However, everyone listening to Jesus' teaching understood that just because one sows (plants) good seed it is no guarantee that you’ll get a good harvest.
The key to a good harvest?
In this parable Jesus makes a comparison between bad soil and good soil to tell us something about how different people will respond to the Gospel.
Note that there are 3 bad soils:
Wayside (vs. 5)
The hard packed ground of the footpath. Seed can't penetrate the ground and is picked up by birds so that nothing ever grows, and no fruit is produced.
Stony ground (vs. 6)
Seed geminated quickly because the soil was thin (layer of limestone) but, when the heat of the sun came the plant withered because it lacked sufficient roots to provide nourishment. So, fast growth, but no fruit.
Thorny ground (vs. 7)
Seed grew to become a plant, but, the aggressive nature of the weeds (thorns) choked out the plant so that it could not produce a crop ~ no fruit!
One good soil (vs. 8)
The seed that fell on good soil produced an abundant crop 100 times what was planted ~ lots of fruit!
By the way, a 10-fold increase was considered a fine crop in Jesus' time so a 100-fold increase would have been super-abundant!
So, Jesus has given the people…
Both believers and unbelievers a divine Truth in the form of a parable about something common to all of them, farming.
But, note that He doesn't tell them at this point what in Heaven's name it means!
√ Listen up!
Jesus ends the parable with an exhortation to listen up!
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" ~ vs. 8
In the Greek text His statement is emphatic!
In other words, it’s not a suggestion…
…it’s a strong exhortation to pay attention!
The point, Jesus doesn't waste words.
He wasn't telling stories for the sake of entertainment.
He was communicating essential truth that had the power to save the people to whom He was speaking from eternal destruction!
The question, were they really listening? The point is that a person can hear the sound of the words that are spoken…
…and completely miss the message because they’re not equipped to understand what is being communicated.
Ex. Radio waves
We are being bombarded all day, every day, by radio signals.
There’s music, teaching, and talk shows being broadcast all around us.
While the sound of those words are passing through our bodies…
…we can’t understand a single thing they’re saying!
Because we don’t have the equipment to “hear” and understand what the sound waves are saying to us.
We need an antenna and receiver!
The same is true of spiritual knowledge.
The people to whom Jesus was speaking all had physical ears…
…but not all of them could understand what He was communicating because they didn’t all have spiritual antenna (“ears”), connected to a spiritual receiver.
Paul explains it this way…
1Cor. 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (their spiritual receiver hooked up).
Many of the people listening to Jesus could not discern the truth that He was sharing.
They heard His words, but did not understand the meaning because their hearts were hardened like the bad soil in His parable.
So, Jesus exhorts them to listen up lest they continue on their path of rebellion and miss out on the Kingdom of Heaven.
Ap. Are you listening?
I’m not asking if you’re hearing the sound of my words. Are you understanding them and allowing God’s Word to change your life?
Please listen to God’s Word and those He sends your way to speak into your life.
Lest you end your life with nothing to show, or worse having played the part of a Christian only to find that pretending doesn’t get anyone into heaven!
Ex. Pastor Chuck’s concern
Interview with Ms. Nude World who said…
“I go to Calvary Chapel!”
…she obviously wasn’t listening!
Purpose of the Parable (vs. 9-10)
Luke 8:9 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?”
Luke 8:10 And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that
‘Seeing they may not see,
And hearing they may not understand.’
√ Purpose of the parable
Luke tells us that the disciples, including the apostles, didn’t understand the parable so they came to ask Jesus what it means.
Mark tells us that this happened when they were alone with Jesus (Mark 4:10).
The change of scene is significant because it communicates that we have moved from a public setting to a private setting.
That is, Jesus revealed truth to His disciples, those who already believed that He was the Messiah…
…that He did not reveal publicly to those who had already rejected Him.
Jesus gives them three reasons as to why He was now using parables.
1) To reveal more truth to believers ~ vs. 10a
Luke 8:10a And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God…
Remember, that the context, or the climate in which Jesus is teaching, is one of unbelief and growing hostility.
Jesus still had a lot to teach His disciples before His ministry was complete.
Yet, the religious leaders were openly plotting to kill Him!
So, by using parables Jesus was able to communicate Truth concerning "the mystery of the kingdom of heaven" (vs. 10) so that the....
Believers would hear and understand.
Unbelievers would listen but not understand (protecting Jesus and the disciples from their hostility).
The key that unlocks the mystery of the parables and the Kingdom of God is a relationship with Jesus ~ if you don’t the Author then you can’t understand His Word.
Ex. Me reading scripture before and after I was saved
2) To hide truth from hostile unbelievers ~ vs. 10b
Luke 8:10b …but to the rest it is given in parables, that
‘Seeing they may not see,
And hearing they may not understand.’
The second reason that Jesus used parables was to hide spiritual truth from those who had already rejected Him..
In part so that He could continue to teach publicly and avoid the hostility of the religious leaders.
But also as a sign of judgment upon those who rejected Jesus as their Savior.
That is, since the religious leaders (and others) had rejected the teaching Jesus has already given them…
…they would be judged by God as unworthy to receive additional revelation.
Seeing, but not believing.
Hearing, but not receiving.
So, the truth would be hidden from them.
Ex. Pharaoh & the folks in Romans 1
Parable Explained (vs. 11-15)
Luke 8:11a “Now the parable is this…
√ Parable explained
Jesus now explains the parable to His disciples, important because He’s going to give us the keys to understand what He meant.
The sower & the seed (vs. 11)
Luke 8:11b “…The seed is the word of God.
Though not specifically identified here the sower of the seed is Jesus (ref. vs. 5 & Matt. 13:37).
The seed is the Word of God ~ vs. 11
Jesus came to Earth to bring the Word, the message of the KOG to Mankind.
The wayside (vs. 12)
Luke 8:12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
Just as a footpath (wayside) is hardened by the constant passing of feet...
...so this type of person has a heart that has been hardened by indifference and a continual rejecting of God’s love and grace.
They hear the Word of Salvation spoken, but their heart is hardened to the point that the Truth doesn't penetrate.
Like seed sitting out on hard ground is soon snatched up by birds…
…so in this case the saving power of the Gospel message is snatched away by the Devil.
In affect this person hears the Word, but because of their indifference and hardened heart there is no response.
That describes many people in the US who are blessed to hear the word of God in abundance, but because they have heard it so often and for so long they ignore it.
Rocky ground (vs. 13)
Luke 8:13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.
This person is the one who hears the Gospel and responds immediately (hastily) and with great enthusiasm.
However, their response lacks conviction of heart and mind ~ it’s only an emotional response.
So, when trouble comes as a result of having expressed interest in the Gospel…
…they turn away.
Ex. This is the person who responds at a Gospel crusade because all their friends do ~ it's so exciting. But, their profession of faith has no conviction to support it.
So, they continue to profess Christ until their profession becomes uncomfortable…
Loss of friends
Loss of opportunity
Threat of violence
No longer thought of as cool
These people are those who are happy to profess Jesus with their lips, but who are unwilling to profess Him with their lives.
Bottom line ~ their profession was not a genuine conversion of heart.
These kinds of people fill the churches in America but are won’t be found in churches in the Sudan and Iran where believers are persecuted for their faith in Jesus.
Thorny ground (vs. 14)
Luke 8:14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.
The people who are choked by the thorns are those who are preoccupied by the cares and riches of this world.
Three competing concerns enter into the life of this person that keeps them from being fruitful for God.
1) Cares of this world (that is the "worries of life")
This is the person who is so distracted with making a living and meeting their daily needs that they never invest their time, talent, treasure in the work of the KOG.
Jesus said in Matt. 6:33
Mat. 6:33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
They lack faith in the ability of Christ to provide for their needs so they spend all of their time working.
Or as Matthew’s Gospel describes it, “the deceitfulness of riches ~ lit. "the deceptive lure" of wealth!
These are the people who have been hooked by the lie that they'll be happy and fulfilled if they can only get that one more thing.
Truth is, temporal treasure brings only temporary happiness.
Eternal joy is found now and forever by seeking after heavenly treasure, as Jesus said…
Mat 6:19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;
Mat 6:20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Mat 6:21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
3) Pleasures of life
These are the people whose lives are dictated by their ungodly pursuits, it might be the desire for...
Bottom line is that these people may have made a response to the Gospel message…
But the lack of spiritual fruit in their lives’ is evidence that they are not true believers.
The apostle Paul warns the folks at the church in Corinth…
2Co 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove (test) yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified.
Remember that earlier in Luke’s Gospel that Jesus told us we can discern between a good and an evil person…
…by the fruit in their life! (Luke 6:43-45)
Ap. Could be fruitless believers!?
As described by Paul in I Cor. 3:5-15.
Saved, but with no eternal fruit or rewards.
May I suggest that the only way we can enjoy the assurance of salvation is to walk with Jesus in such a way that we can see His fruit in our lives!
Good ground (vs. 15)
Luke 8:15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
The last soil is good ground as compared to the three bad soils.
These are people who not only hear the Word ~ but understand it, receive it and practice it in their lives.
The point is this that a true believer (contrasted with someone who simply professes faith)…
…is one who responds to the Word in such a way that there is godly fruit in their lives (ref. Gal. 5:22-23).
√ Jesus expects a crop!
He's planted fruit-bearing seed. The seed wasn't sown to produce...
A flower to look at
Wood to build with
Fruit to multiply the seed
That is, each of us should be able to examine our own lives - before we professed Jesus as Lord, and after....
...and see the fruit of Godly character in our lives.
Character that reproduces itself in the lives of the people around us!
Because the seed that Jesus planted in our hearts is designed to produce more good seed that can be planted in others lives!
√ Seed and soil
Jesus continues to sow the seed of the Gospel today through His Body - you and me!
Our responsibility is not for the ground upon which the seed falls, but rather, to simply sow the seed!
How people respond is beyond our control.
Jesus tells us that people respond in four general ways to the Gospel message…
3 are negative
1 is a positive response
That means only 25% of those who hear the Gospel we preach actually respond in a way that leads to a productive Christian life!
So don’t get discouraged with the results of your planting…
…just keep planting!