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 of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, 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, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Luke 8:4-8
This passage has been the subject of our Sunday school lesson and sermons several times. However the Lord has shown me that there is a number of comparisons in this parable that may not be apparent right away. Yet, it seems as if the lesson always centers on Christís explanation.
According to the text the seed (the word of God) was sown on four kinds of soil. The most apparent theme is that the seed needs certain conditions for it to sprout and grow. The path was calloused by constant foot traffic that treated the seed with little respect. It is also understandable that the evading feet would damage the vegetation along the path making the path barren. The consistent use of the path would not allow seed to grow and made the areas where seed was scattered open for the birds to spot the exposed seed. Needless to say, itís not long before the seed became take out food for the birds. The seed scattered along the path, which meant that the area closest to the path was affected by the hardness of the path. Even though the seed may have taken root the continuos foot traffic would damage the stalk.
When you think of rocky places, it could easily be a wide variety of rocks scattered upon a thin layer of pebbles, slivers, chips, sand and stone dust. It reminds me of the picturesque riverbank with very little soil and no vegetation. Some of the seed fell on rocky places where it sprouted and began to grow. Matthew said the soil was shallow and Luke gave a reason of no moisture, lets remember that rocky places shed water within a matter of minutes. When the seed sprouts it sends a root into the depths of the rock but the crust of the rock is almost always dry. The root will struggle using itís own moisture to look for water and finding no water will eventually wither and die.
The seed was also sown among thorns. Most farmers know that established thorns grow well in poor soil and almost always healthier than the weeds around it. However, if they were to fertilize them they would take over the field. The presence of the thorns also tells the farmer that the thorns have an established root system. This means that the seed they plant among the thorns would have to compete for available food. Because the thorns have a root system in place they have the advantage and rob the seed of what they need to grow. The outcome is that some of the seed sprout and then die because the sprout lacks strength to grow and mature.
In this parable, Jesus spoke of seed that fell on good soil that yielded a crop a hundred times more than was sown. It speaks of a knowledgeable farmer that knows poor soil conditions donít put food on the table or money in the pocket. Therefore he worked day and night clearing, cultivating, and conditioning the soil so that it would produce an above average crop.
The nature of parables is to take common examples from this world to explain a spiritual principle. Therefore we must consider worldly principles and kingdom principles operate in a similar method because of the truth. Letís also take notice that this parable in all three gospels ended with the same phrase that we seldom explore.
He who has an ear let him hear. Luke 8:8, Matthew 13:9, Mark 4:9
Jesus taught that the secrets of the kingdom were such that the average person would both see and hear, but would not understand. Even Godís elect have difficulty understanding the kingdom truth as you need to reflect on the example with the spiritís leading to understand the kingdom secrets. Then you must consider the truth as if it were a pearl found in a field, A pearl so valuable that you make an all out effort to obtain it.
Knowledge is important for success in this life and gleaning the knowledge from these two parables are key to your understanding. The successful Christian is constantly learning new things about the Kingdom because he knows its worth like the pearl must be obtained by your spirit, held sacred enough to give your all for it.
Its strange that Jesus said he who has ears let him hear when everyone has ears as a visible part of their body. However, it is also possible to be so engrossed in what you are doing that you do not hear what is going on around you. Like a teenager who is absorbed playing a video game that he or she doesnít hear you call them to supper? As a supervisor you have often had to take employeeís living in lah lah land off to the side to show them the mistake theyíve made so that they will correct what they do on subsequent attempts. Is your waitress really listening to your order when you have to repeat the order more than once? Hearing is an important part of communication and even though you may communicate well the listeners may not be paying attention.
Let them hear appears to be the operative part of the phrase. But Jesus also said within his explanation in Mark,
Consider carefully what you hear," he continued. "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you ó and even more. Mark 4:24
Within the parable of the sower, you can see the person who knows more than you do and doesnít need to pay attention or listen. There is the person who listens to the person who is always in trouble. Then there is the person willing to listen but considers what you are saying wonít work and is utter nonsense. There is the person who is indecisive and doesnít trust what he has heard. There is the person who hears about half of what was said and then fails because he or she didnít do everything he or she heard. There is also a person that only hears what he wants to hear. And then there is the prudent person who has been through the school of hard knocks and has learned that everything has a specific way of being accomplished. He listens to knowledge pertaining to his life and investigates its feasibility to gain some understanding. He learns what can be accomplished by changing practical ways things can be done. Then a prudent person applies his knowledge to gain experiential knowledge and learns he can accomplish greater feats and that knowledge rewards those who earnestly seek it.
Seeing is also important because what we may not be seen is the operative word ďhearĒ as it is used four times in relation to where the seed was sown. (Matthew 13:18-23, <a href="http://" title="Then Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop ó thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown." Mark 4:13-20">Mark 4:13-20, Luke 8:11-15). We find that Jesus is explaining two parables at the same time showing that they are related to each other. Hearing has a lot to do with growth in the Kingdom and the potential it has for fruit for the kingdom. The end product is due to whether the word was heard and put into practice. Look at this comparison.
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. Matthew 7:26
Weíve all seen the examples on the news of a house sliding down the side of California hill during mudslides. We have seen TV news stories showing a house collapsing when floodwaters have washed away the foundation. The idea is giving your spiritual life a foundation that will not fail, but will stand forever in our personal trials, is brought out in the scriptures. Jesus said, everyone hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. That foundation and rock is Jesus Christ.
In the parable of the sower, the seed represents the word of God, which was sown along the path represents the heart of man. The word of God was heard and Satan represented by the birds took the word of God from the heart of the man. The seed was good but the heart of man was so hard that the seed could not root. Weíve seen people who said its too good to be true, I donít need religion, thatís foolishness, when they see no need for God. They donít see how they personally benefit from the word of God and with that kind of mindset they refuse to listen. However in this case there is direct intervention by Satan who takes the seed away so the man canít be saved. This means that he heart of this man isnít resisting but is voluntarily standing back and allowing the birds to take the seed away.
Those where the seed was sown on the rock are the man who hear the word occasionally and are delighted to hear the gospel. The seed that falls on the rock doesnít have enough strength to live because the sun scorches the sprout. In spiritual terms when the young Christian is persecuted they quickly give up and return to old way of life. Young Christians fall away because they do not have the knowledge or experience to know that the battle is the Lords. When trials come they quickly forget all that God has done for them and has made a way for them to overcome the world.
For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Hebrews 4:2
Hebrews 4:2 says that they did not combine what they heard with faith to overcome the trials they faced.
The seed sown among thorns affect our growth in the Lord and strangle our ability to take root in our faith. Some Christians are in the wrong Church, and may only hear what it takes to be saved. Some are given ten easy rules to be a Christian and are left alone to fend for themselves. The change of turning from the sinful life to the spiritual life in Christ is the hardest part of Christian life. Without the strength of Christ in us and without continuous feeding in Godís word Christians fall by the wayside. It is the time that most Christians attempt to have the best of two worlds with one foot anchored in the world and the other climbing over the fence to the spiritual life. God says you canít have both, instead by seeking Christ and his righteousness first, these things will be added to you.
What we worry about are things that we focus upon and rob us of the strength of our faith. The thorns are the consuming part of our life and they keep us constantly struggling to have the things God is pleased to give us. The thorns of life make sure that you do not have enough money to buy clothes for the children or to put food on the table. We wonder what can we do to increase our income and worry about the promotion we think we deserve. We grieve over sickness and death of loved ones. The thorns keep us in defeat because we focus on our situation and not the solution found in Jesus Christ. While the people hear the word of God they are anchored in the world and kept busy with the things of this world. The result is that we struggle to have the things of the world and although they see a need for God, their life demonstrates that God is not among their priorities. They are double-minded people, neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm, demonstrating indecision by the way they live.
The seed sown on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart. They looked at the noble character of him that created them and saw that the plans and desires God had for his creation was only good. They learned from experience to place their trust in him who said.
I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11-12
I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. Jeremiah 32:40
The seed that develops the listening ear and sets his mind to hear the word of God will make every effort to gain additional insight on the matter. Understanding the matter requires the effort of the hearer to know and consider the facts followed with practical application of everything theyíve learned. The experience of doing retains the word of God and prepares a plan for a steady and advancing life that produces a crop.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
In the parable the farmer scattered the seed over the entire field without regard to the soil conditions. Although some seed would perish the farmer wanted an abundant crop. We should also reflect that the seed has a time to be sown a time to grow and a time to be harvested with the basic command of God that seed would produce seed after its own kind. Although its not mentioned the seed that was hindered by the soil conditions may have produced a smaller crop, but the remainder of the seed produced random quantities greater than sown.
God does not anyone to perish. However, the word of God was sown indiscriminately regardless of soil conditions, so every person would hear. According to the parable the hearts of man were calloused. What it means is that not everyone is going to believe gospel of God and many will find reasons to go their own way. Ultimately, it is not for us to decide whose heart will accept the gospel. The words of God will begin to grow where itís sown, but we must allow the ministry of the Holy Spirit to convict and justify those who hear.
In chapter 13 of Matthew the first half of the chapter deals with the parable of the sower. The symbolism is that the word of God is the seed and the soil represents the heart of man. In the later half of chapter 13 in the parable of the wheat and the weeds the symbolism changes. The good seed becomes the sons of the kingdom and the weeds the sons of the evil one. However in this parable the farmer allowed the weeds to grow with the good seed, because pulling the weeds out would destroy the good seed.
In todayís world, Christians live among the arrogant, the haughty, and foolish people who have not organized their lives to please God. Some serve false religions and gods that are not alive and can not speak or hear. While others know where God lives, know that God is love, that Christ died for them and yet have turned their backs on him. It is a choice that they have made and like turning the TV set off they have chosen to reject the only God capable of giving eternal life.
Normally parables explain a spiritual truth of the kingdom of God using examples that we see in this world. Jesus spoke in parables so that people who use their ears to hear him, would put into practice the wisdom of their heavenly father. God became the father of the human race when he created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve produced seed after their own kind, which continued the same process in every subsequent generation and has filled the earth with billions of like seed.
In the garden Adam and Eve chose to disobey God by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan deceived Adam and Eve into disobeying God but that act altered the lives of mankind for you belong to the one you obey.
The major difference in the good seed and the bad seed is in whom the seed belongs to. Jesus said my sheep, those who belong to me, know my voice and follow me. Jesus made it clear that is possible to listen to him and obey by following him. You are always listening to someone from the spirit realm but its in whom you obey that shows whom you belong to.
Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. John 8:43-44
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27
The parable of the good and bad seed also reflects Godís plan to harvest the seed he planted when he returns again. However there is also the growing cycle between planting and the harvest. We as human beings can make choices that effect the outcome of our lives. With this knowledge we have the opportunity to make our lives the fruit of he earth that God wants and is willing to keep. God has made it plain that he will separate the sheep from the goats, the weeds from the wheat, the good fish from the bad, and those who sin and those who serve him.
"They will be mine," says the Lord Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not. Malachi 3:17-18
All men and women have ears to hear, but hearing is usually a choice of listening to what grabs your attention. For the most part we listen to what we can place our confidence in and have determined to be a need, what is right and useful for our life. Just as the world rejects the truth, Christians can reject the truth because it conflicts with what we understand and place our trust in.
Jesus brought out the point that if people would just listen to him and make an effort to comprehend what he said with their hearts that understanding would follow. The understanding they gain would lead to repentance and because they turn God would heal them.
For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. Matthew 13:15
They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Ephesians 4:18
Jesus also said,
Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. Revelation 1:3
If you are reading this article it is because you are in the growing cycle of mankind and Jesus Christ has not harvested the earth yet. You still have time to prepare yourself to be accepted by God as one of his sons or daughters. Revelation 1:3 is an example of what God wants you to do in preparing for the day he swings the sickle.
So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. Revelation 14:16
We can prepare for the day when the harvesting sickle plucks the fruit of the seed God planted in the garden from the earth. Probably, the most difficult thing to realize is that human beings are the fruit of the earth, but it is human race that God is going to harvest. God said that he made his eternal power and divine nature clearly understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse (Romans 1:19-20.) At the same the fruit of the earth knows that God created the universe and although they are the part of the universe they are not interested in why they exist or how their existence can benefit God.
Is the human race considering that God has a plan for his or her future? Itís plain to see that God had a reason for creating man with the capability of thinking independently of him. However, the majority of the human race doesnít know about the choice God has given mankind. You can accept his plan and enjoy what he has planned for your future or you can reject his plan and be treated as one who rebels from his authority.
The question arises Ė are we taking God seriously? What are we doing to show God we are worthy of his gift of eternal life? Are we producing the fruit that God wants and is willing to keep? Are we cultivating the soil of our being to accept the seed and become something God can receive an increase from?