Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:1-15)

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.


So, why do you think this was included as part of the Scriptures?  We are learning that Jesus is traveling and that in addition to the twelve, there are women with them.  Not just any women, but women who have been cured and healed.  Joanna is somebody's wife and also the manager of Herod's household.  I wonder if this is the same Herod who was also king at the time.  Imagine that!  Herod's own household manager is following Jesus!  Susanna is also mentioned and we are told that there are other women.  Now, it's only given one line, but this is important.  These women were helping to support them.  This should be setting off all kinds of bells and whistles in your head.  Why?  First of all, during Bible times, men were the providers.  They are the ones who got jobs, made the money, supported their families and so on.  For women to be able to support men is unheard of!  I suppose if you are going to go against the system, Jesus' ministry is a good reason.


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.


I love Jesus' teaching style.  He speaks to the people in terms of things that they understand.  This group of people that he was speaking to might have been farmers.  They appreciate the message and know the value of good seed.  What he is saying is something they would have known well.  Whether the seed prospers and grows depends largely on the soil it is planted in, the moisture, and more.  Yet, Jesus did not come to give advice on farming.  There is a message in the parable, but not everyone will understand the message that Jesus is trying to teach.  They have heard the message but they have not understood.


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.


Jesus is actually quoting prophecy here.  The people understand this particular parable as nothing more than advice about farming.  They see Jesus but do not understand that he is much more than what they see.  They hear his words but don't understand that there is much more to what he is saying.  The disciples are blessed.  They know that there is more to what Jesus has said, but they aren't exactly sure what he meant.  So now, Jesus will explain the parable.


“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.


Jesus tells us there are four kinds of people:
Those who hear the Word of God,

  1. but lose it before they can be saved and believe because the Devil takes it
  2. but lose it when they are tested, because the Word has not taken root
  3. but do not mature, because they are choked out by world concerns
  4. retain it and persevere by producing a crop (of believers)
This is some pretty amazing stuff.  Some people hear the Word of God and before it has a chance to sink in, the devil dives in and takes it away before it even has a chance to take root and affect a person.  Some people hear the Word and believe it.  Everything is great until something happens.  Something in their life tests their new-found faith.  Rather than growing through the test, they fail and abandon their faith.  Some people hear the word and accept it, but they have too hard of a time letting go of world concerns.  They invest more in this world than the next and so they do not mature.  Think of these folks as constantly drinking baby milk when they should be devouring steaks by now.  Then, there's the last group.  These are the people that hear the word.  It is more than a passing fancy.  It is a lifestyle choice that they cling to, regardless of what is going on and what surrounds them.  Their faith and their walk is nothing less than holy.  It is inspirational.  These are the saints that lead others to a relationship with Christ.  Their crop is the new body of believers.

Jesus, forgive me for not clinging to your Word.  Forgive me for the times I have abandoned you when I have faced the tests and trials.  Forgive me for allowing worldly concerns to usurp your throne.  Jesus, help me to yield control of my life to you.


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