“While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” (Luke 8:4-15, NIV)
The sower, of course, is Jesus. The seed is the good news. We’re the soil—-you and me, and all other men and women who have ever lived or ever will live. The question seems to be the quality of the soil. And our question back to the sower might be, “How can I be held accountable if my soil is good, productive soil, or rocky, poor soil?”
But let’s first look at the parable closely. There are two things to hear Jesus’ parable: 1.)What the parable tells us something about Jesus, and 2.) What the parable tells us something about ourselves. The parable tells us what kind of Sower Jesus is. He sows God’s word, God’s love and compassion here, there, and everywhere. He preaches in the Temple, in the synagogues, in boats, on mountains and in the open field. He sows God’s love among saints and sinners, among religious leaders and teachers and among the outcasts of society, the lepers, tax collectors and prostitutes. Jesus appears to be an overly generous or even wasteful sower. He seems to throw the seed everywhere—perhaps where a more cautious farmer would not. But Jesus is showing us, I think, how rich and extravagant Gods love and mercy is. He wants all to hear the good news and bear fruit to so that others will also enter into the kingdom.
But the parable also tells us something about ourselves, and it can be a bit scary. Jesus tells us that it is possible to hear God’s word… and forget it. We can allow accept the truth, but then let “worldly anxiety” or the “lure of riches” strangle us spiritually. You see it all the time in churches and among folks that once loudly professed their faith in Jesus, but then, over time allowed other things to cause their faith to whither. Everybody has a bad day, and some of us go through times of wandering perhaps. But the test is to simply ask yourself this: Am I bearing fruit? Is my life one of such love and compassion towards all I meet, especially to the outcasts of society, that they look at me differently?
So this parable is rather challenging. This Christian ideal of being full of love and grace begins not with us, but with God. It is He who sows His love, compassion, and mercy into our hearts. Our task as Christians is to recognize that God’s love is already sown in our hearts and live off of that love. We are to tend the sheep, feed the lamb, and be food and drink for those that are spiritually starving.
The seed is divine—-flawless and perfect. But without good soil it will not take root and grow. Consider whether your soul is a proper soil for His seed; whether it be trampled upon continually by distractions and idle thoughts; is it be stony and full of the cares and occupations of this life, and consequently not susceptible of the divine influence of heavenly grace.
It’s important to see that Jesus, the sower, goes everywhere, looking to scatter seeds, not just the places that it’s easy to grow. He wants everyone to hear the good news—-so should we.
We began by asking the question how God can hold us accountable for being born, raised, and limited to “poor soil”. If I am by nature short sighted, easily tempted to give up, focused upon the pretty things that are omni-present in this physical world, how can He judge me and condemn me for having “poor soil” for my heritage and upbringing?”
I think the answer is found in the passage, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” He’s talking to all of us, but He also knew then and now, that some of us would refuse Him. Just like one-third to the angels that rejected God before the world was created. The same is true of the ancient rules of Israel, the Hebrews in the wilderness, and the folks that actually saw Jesus do impossible things and then called Him, “demon possessed”.
Their hearts were wrong and never got right. I don’t think that they were born with a hard heart, but it’s a sad matter of fact that some folks will never became a follower of Christ on His terms. Some of us will hear and be saved and some will hear the same message and not. Why? The answer He gives is so important to grasp!
1. “The devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.” Satan is only able to take what we surrender! He tempted Jesus but Jesus did not surrender! He fought back and Satan ran away. Satan is a coward—-but he’s sly and is the father of lies, half-truths and deceit. How has he fooled you and what are you going to do about it? He offers you and me cheap thrills, short-lived experiences and then leads us away with a hook in our mouths. Fight him when he tempts you—don’t lie down and die or blame it on your circumstances! Rise above it and seek the divine and the eternal Lover of your souls!
2. “Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” You will be tested if you decide to come to church, join the youth group, read your Bible, pray. And if start to even consider proclaiming that Jesus is Lord, you will be tested. Are you ready for that? Have you burned your bridges and decided to follow Jesus? No turning back? He’s either Lord of all or not Lord at all. Friends, it sounds pretty clear that some folks ARE going to be saved, but quite a few are not. It seems quite true that many folks that go to church and act religious are, in fact, just acting. It appears that the appetites, pleasures and temptations of earth can block out heaven and eternity with God. The Bible verses of just believing and confessing notwithstanding, you can’t deny what Jesus implicitly says in the parables—-and then explains so that there is no confusion. Our actions prove our salvation in Christ.
3. “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” Becoming a child of God is to be born again. That means that you totally surrender to Him your fears, dreams, hopes, expectations and your very future. You become a child of God, not a co-equal with God, and not the owner of a genie-in-a-bottle!!! God is God and you recognize yourself as a little child that’s holding His hands, looking into His loving face and trusting Him to teach, lead, discipline and protect you. You demand nothing from Him….you humbly thank Him for whatever He does, wherever He sends you, whatever He challenges He presents to you—-because you are His now. HE is in control.
4. “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by fixing their eyes upon Him produce a crop.” Are you producing a crop? It’s a sober question to ask yourself. If your heart is “good soil”, a yield, or increase is going to happen quite naturally. You don’t have to make it happen—the Holy Spirit will.
Let me encourage you today with this thought though. At our camp we have good soil and poor soil. Some was covered in rocks, some was worn out and hard, a lot was covered with weeds, and so on. But we moved away rocks, plowed up the hard-pan, pulled up acres of weeds, fertilized the ground and mixed it with mulch it became good soil. Rocks, debris and garbage can be removed from your life, if you want it. God can send His plow into your life to break up a hard heart, if you’re willing. In the parable none of the soils are called “sterile”—-neither is the soul of any man or woman. He can work a miracle in your life.
Where are you in the parable?
What kind of soil do you really want?