Come with me and turn in your New Testament to Luke Chapter 8. We read of Jesus Christ travelling around the various towns and villages, and what does He do everywhere He goes? He proclaims the good news of the kingdom of God. Jesus Christ is King. He moves around physically and geographically. He changes places for preaching and teaching, but He does not change His message.
The Kingdom of God – where Jesus Christ is king – that is the place of security, safety and assurance. The twelve were with Him – they would be learning so much as they listened, watched and observed. There were also some women following Jesus around – some of whom had been healed and delivered from evil spirits. They contributed their money to support and finance the work and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Jesus was so Pure and Holy and Perfect and Sinless, that He could allow these women to be around Him everywhere He went – without any rumours, whispers and suspicious talk behind His back. Amongst all the very real criticisms which were hurled against Jesus there is no hint or suggestion of impropriety whatsoever anywhere. There was never a question over his morality – over his holiness – over his purity in the eyes of The Father.
One day a large crowd had come together and Jesus began to speak to the people –
“A farmer went out to sow his seed – as he sowed some fell on the path – this roadway was hard – the seed could not penetrate – and the birds came and ate it up.” Jesus was teaching this in the countryside – by the Lake. He was in a horse-shoe shaped bay, at the water’s edge. He is facing a sloping field, which has perfect acoustics.
There were fields all around. Everybody knew what the situation was. They could identify with what Jesus was saying.
Verse 6. Some seed fell on rock. Now there were, and still are, many rocks in those fields. I have examined them on my various visits to the Galilee. There would a little soil covering the rocks – the young plants sprouted up – but they had no room to put down roots. Soon they withered for lack of moisture.
v 7. Some seed fell among thorns and weeds – what grew would soon be choked.
v 8. Other seed fell on good soil – it grew and produced fruit. The fruitfulness was as high as 100 times what was sown – that is a high yield.
Then Jesus cried out to the people – “Are you listening? Are you really listening? Are you paying attention?” Jesus is saying – use your ears – hearing is hard work.
That is all He said! Now, study this carefully. We should study every part of Scripture carefully to absorb what God is really saying. Often Jesus’ parables are brief. That is all he gave the crowd. But that does not satisfy the disciples. “What does this mean? What is this all about?”
Be prepared to ask good questions. These keen earnest disciples wanted more than just a story – a children’s address. They wanted Jesus to teach them. They wanted a little meat. Milk – sops – wasn’t enough for them.
Jesus begins to explain and this is the only place where Jesus Christ explains and develops and expands upon His basic message.
v 10. You can understand the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Jesus Christ is prepared to share with the likes of us – Sacred Secrets. Others will never really see – never really understand – and they will have to be satisfied with Children’s Addresses. But to these men – and to those of us who genuinely want to know – Jesus is willing to explain and develop and expand the basic message – so that we can grasp its meaning – the hidden meaning.
But this happens only after you ask a question. Remember – many of the letters we have in the New Testament are the result of questions that arose – problems that arose – the situation in a particular fellowship. These men did not sit down to write The Bible!
v 11. The sowing of the seed, and the explaining of what it means, is the most important part of my work, and that is what I seek to do in these studies. The seed is the word of God. This seed can come to life. There is potential in this seed. These are much more than black marks on white paper. This is the seed of God.
What gives rise to this question? Were these men a bit disheartened at the way things were going? Even cousin John had questions and reservations about how things were going and what was happening. Crowds were coming, but very few were actually hearing and paying attention. And this Word does separate the curious from those who really want to learn. Hearing is as important as preaching – to hear what God is saying. The ground is as vital as the sowing of the seed. And, Jesus begins to teach those who want to learn .
Seed – with all its potential – has to penetrate hearts before any life can spring forth. We must not expect quick results. We are farmers – not manufacturers on a production line. Jesus teaches that the word can fall upon hard hearts. If there are too many things trampling that heart – too much rushing around – too many commitments – too many irons in the fire – always having to be involved in something – a lot of effort and movement – all it can be doing is trampling down a person’s heart and making it hard. Seed needs a place to rest and germinate. That is why at the close of a Fellowship Meeting, we have to be very careful what we say. We can so easily distract people from what Jesus has been saying to them.
v13. Some seed falls on hearts that are like rock. Yes – there is soil – enough for a little show of life. But that weak seedling is growing in a tiny layer of earth.
There is nowhere for the root to go down – adversity comes – testing comes – and the early response fades and withers. Some people give up and give in and disappear.
Jesus says – they fall away. “No thank you – I’ve had enough – I don’t want any more – even though it is coming from You, Jesus, the Son of God.”
v14. In some hearts the seed grows for a little while. It can look so good. Some people can really impress you – fine healthy plants. But the rubbish and rubble in their hearts has never been cleaned out – not really. Soon the weeds begin to grow, and they can take over, and these growing weeds can choke out the promising life. Something comes along and grows – something which should have been rooted out – too many demands – too many places to go – too many cares – riches – pleasures. Prosperity can lead a man astray, and such a life never produces any fruit. The early growth was intended to produce fruit in due season.
This is what Jesus is leading up to – is there any fruit? Are there results? Do you sometimes wish the question had never been asked? The answer is so detailed and so relevant.
The Word does find good ground too. The Word finds hearts and minds of men and women who are open and unprejudiced – willing to receive – wanting to be taught – and prepared to obey – and determined to cultivate their faith – allowing it to grow and blossom and mature – as the seed is given every encouragement to grow.
Jesus is speaking about quality – reliability – perseverance – patience.