Luke 8:4 And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Luke 8:9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
Luke 8:16 “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. 18 Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”
Luke 8:19 Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. 20 And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” 21 But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
If you’ve been following along with us in Luke over the past few months, we’ve been discussing and hopefully challenged by the ministry methods of Jesus. Jesus ministered to to people in a way that blew the doors off of anyone’s expectations of what the ministry of the messiah should be like. Instead of coming in judgement, he came to preach grace. Instead of consuming sinners in a baptism of fire, Jesus touched and healed and forgave. Instead of pointing people to the law of God and to the morality of man, Jesus extend love that stretched beyond the law, healing people on the Sabbath, touching lepers, letting a sinful woman touch Him. Jesus defied people’s expectations of him and his ministry so much that even John - the man who introduced Jesus to the world - even John doubted. He ate with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus’ ministry method can be summed up like this: Preach and Live Radical Grace. He saw no barriers, he viewed no one as outside of the love and reach of God.
That attractive message, as well as the miracles of healing and deliverance, drew great crowds as well as attracting great criticism, especially from religious people. And here is the criticism - if we throw open the doors that wide, if we preach grace so freely, how do we protect the movement from people who just come to Jesus for healing, or to hear a message of forgiveness, but do not illustrate any change of life. How do we reconcile John’s ministry of “Repent or perish” with Jesus’ ministry of radical grace?
The teaching of Jesus that we’re looking at today, can be taken as Jesus’ response to his critics. We saw a bit of his response last week. Last week Jesus defended grace: that radical grace actually results in people who passionately love God. This week, Jesus defends his ministry.
In the first parable that Jesus teaches, He uses the illustration of agriculture to speak to the great crowds and people from town to town who’ve gathered. Notice that throughout the parable their is one farmer and there is one seed. Jesus explains that the seed is the Word of God, meaning that He is the farmer and that he is describing his ministry. yet though their is one farmer, one seed, and one action of sowing, various results occur depending on what happens to the seed once it leaves the farmers hand. And in this passage it is very important to take note of the prepositions used by Jesus.
- The Seed that Falls Beside the Path
- The Seed that Falls Onto the Rock
- The Seed that Falls Among the Thorns
- The Seed that Falls Into the Soil
- The Seed that Falls Beside the Path: some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it ... 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The path is hard. It’s been trampled on to make it hard. These are people who have hard-hearts to the gospel, They are closed to the gospel and so you can preach to them and the word just sits there. Satan’s smart about these people, and he knows that hearts that are hard now may be tilled tomorrow, so he does what he can to take the seed away. So yes, Jesus says, somtimes I preach the word of radical grace and people just don’t want to hear it. Some of our friends won’t hear it because they’ve been trampled on - sometimes by Christians. What can we do for these? Pray. Pray and keep sowing. Pray and sow regularly so the the moment the Spirit tills, their heart, you’re ready with the seed of God’s word.
- The Seed that Falls Onto the Rock: 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. Here’s what Jesus is describing. Every farmer tills the soil so that small rocks are removed. That’s not what Jesus is talking about. Notice he says - the rock. In Palestine there are places in which their is a layer of limestone just under the soil. When your first clearing land to sow, your not sure where this limeston is, so you sow everywhere. The first sign that you’ve planted on stone, is not that the plants don’t grow, but that they shoot up faster than usual, because the energy of the seed, not being able to penetrate downward and deeper, sends the stalk upward. But this is all just wasted energy because without any root the seed has no penetration, so the plant withers and dies. Jesus says these are like people who hear the word of God and immediately they receive it with joy, but they have no root. It has not oenetrated them. It has all been external. Here is the danger: there is an emotional response to the gospel that looks like belief, yet is not repentance, has no root, and you will wither away. We’re not trying to drum up emotions about jesus - we’re trying to point you to him that you nmay follow him and experience the true joy of sharing in the life of God.
- The Seed that Falls Among the Thorns: 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. Here again, there seems to be some initial response to the gospel, but the person’ life is more characterized by the values and ambitions of the world than that of Christ. This seed bears no fruit. We’ll come back to these people in a bit.
- The Seed that Falls Into the Soil: And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. Notice that this is the only seed said to fall into the soil. These people hear the gospel, but hold it fast in their heart, and then, with patience, bear fruit.
That’s pretty basic right? Two ways this parable speaks to us:
- What sort of soil are we?
- How do we sow like Jesus?
- What sort of soil are we? Jesus is speaking this parable to the crowds, so we should first consider ourselves as part of the crowds following Jesus, and we should consider that we might be one of these scenarios that Jesus is talking about. A few of us in this room, might be the first scenario - the on-the-path people. not many, because on-the-path people would probably not be in church listening to the Word of God every week. You know who has to be the most careful about being an on-the-path person? Youth. Some of you still come to church because your parents make you come. The best way to harden your heart:
- Be always connected to the internet.
- Never read any Christian books.
- Never pray.
- Judge judgmental people.
How about the other soils? The on-the-rock emotionalistim and the in-the-thorns worldly response? What is Jesus saying to us? Instead of detailing each of these soils, let’s ask
this, what response is Jesus looking for?
Jesus is obviously directing us to respond as the fourth soil. It’s important to understand this because some people interpret this passage in such a way that it would seem that you could be a Christian and be either the second or third soil. They often refer to these believers as carnal Christians. They would try to persuade you that these two soils represent saved Christians who either fell away because of trials or were rendered fruitless because of their pursuit for the things of this world. But they’re saved, they are just fruitless. Here’s there argument:
- The second soil is said to receive the word with joy and believe for a while. In other parts of scripture, receiving the word and believing is equating with saving faith. John 1:5: As many received him he gave the right to become children of God. Ephesians 1:13, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation and believed in Him, you were sealed with the promised holy spirit.
- to fall away one must have a faith to fall away from.
- In the second and third soil there is some growth. The second soil springs up fast, and the third must have some growth to be choked out by weeds. Therefore, since there was some growth they must have been saved.
- Theological argument #1: Grace is free and our salvation is not dependent upon our response. Therefore, they argue, these carnal Christians are saved because of their faith, not because of their fruits.
- Theological argument #2: Once saved, always saved. this is the theological position that if a person at any moment believes, they are sealed and cannot be snatched away from the father’s hand, even if they reject Christ the next moment.
The interpretation I described above is sometimes called easy-believism. I’m going to try to persuade you this morning that this position mot only misses the point of the parable, but also is very dangerous theology, and I need to tell you this so that you might inspect your heart, ask what sort of soil you are, and perhaps come to true saving faith and repentance in Christ.
- Notice the prepositions. Jesus says that it is only the last case that the word of God penetrates the soil. This is very intentional by Jesus. You can have the word of God around you, near you, on you, but is it in you? Has it penetrated your heart?
- Second - we need to understand this parable as a farmer would. What does a farmer look for when he sows a crop? A harvest. It does the farmer no good to have plants that shoot up and whither or get choked out by thorns. The farmer is looking for fruit to gather up and bring into his barns. This would have been obvious to those hearing Jesus’ parable.
- Notice that Jesus’ teaching doesn’t end in the explanation of the parable, he goes on: (16-18). The idea Jesus is saying here is what is lit will be seen, and what is hidden will come to light. We are to take care of how we hear (of what sort of soil we are). And we can be deceived (what we think we have, will be take away)
- Third - notice the focus on hearing. Take care of how you hear. In verse 12 Jesus calls out “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” But how to hear? The first hear without understanding, the second hear but have no root, the third hear but go on their way, the fourth hear the word, hold fast to it in and honest and good heart and bear fruit. Notice the final story of the scripture: Luke 8:19 Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. 20 And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” 21 But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
Do not be deceived by people who would teach you and you can be assured of your salvation while falling away and following your own way. Don’t be a person who thinks he has salvation, but has not. Hear is the message of the gospel: Salvation is free, you can’t work for it, it can’t be earned - but salvation bears fruit. So how much fruit? What type of fruit? What does fruit mean or look like in my life? Here is the safe thing to do - turn to Jesus! Follow Jesus! Fruit will come and assurance will be had in its proper time. Second thing - read 1 John. My 1 John sermon series is online - you an read or listen to it.
- How do we sow like Jesus? So Jesus is being criticized because he is spreading his message of grace to people who are responding in these various ways. He’s being criticized by the Pharisees and you can see why - Yancey, grace is dangerous. How can you ensure that people will truly repent and bear fruit? the answer is you can’t ensure it - some people will hear the word, and look like Christians for a time but fall away, or they will seem to be receptive but go on their own way and go back to the cares of the world - but true grace is transforming grace! And when grace transforms it reaps a harvest. So how do we sow like Jesus? Spread the word to everyone you know and trust the grace of God to transform some.
(show slides on younger unchurched)