And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “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. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out,
– Luke 8:4-8 (ESV)
In this often read parable, Jesus (the Word made flesh) is speaking of the seed as the Word of God (see Luke 8:11-15). As He tells them the parable, He says this interesting statement in verse 8 regarding those with ears and their hearing. His “calling out” this statement is a way of Him indicating that believers should be able to understand or comprehend the parable without needing further explanation. Nonbelievers would not get the deeper meaning of this parable. Jesus said this phrase at the conclusion of other parables as well.
The Greek word for “hear” as used means, “to understand or comprehend.”
Jesus wants us to understand that when we share the Word of God whether we are teaching it, quoting it, etc., we are sowing it as a farmer does when he sows seeds into the ground. As we share it, our audience contains a variety of people (soil). Some will receive the Word and follow it. The other three types will let the Word die because they don’t have what it takes to keep it going and growing.
What encourages me about this as a teacher is the fact that Jesus didn’t say that we should plant the seeds of the Word on soil that’s fertile only and with ample supplies of water for growing. He says sow the seed of the Word but know that it won’t take root in everybody who hears it and that it is no reflection on the sower. Nonetheless, this should not prevent us from sowing the seed. Period. Sow it. Say it. Speak the truth no matter the audience. Speak it in and out of season. Speak it when it’s not convenient or politically correct. Speak it when you know you’ll be mocked.
Speak it to those who are receptive and who will pass it on. Those are the safe ones with which to share it. The fruit from those grows quickly and it is rewarding and refreshing to share it with them. It’s easiest to share it with them. There’s less chance for disappointment by the sower in the soil here.
Ultimately, we have to get past the point of excitement in seeing the fruit and get stuck in our ruts. We have to be willing to go where it’s unpredictable. Because in all of this it is just not about us sowers. It’s about the seed. The only way for the seed to be planted is through willing sowers who will sow it because that’s what Jesus says to do. We are doing it to please Him and to be obedient to His call to make disciples. Ultimately, we have to get to where it’s about Christ and Christ alone.
Sowing it anywhere else is difficult. Jesus says we are responsible for sowing the seed. We are not responsible for the seed’s growth or death. We are to simply sow it. He says so.
I think of Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. God told him to say some things to his fellow Israelites and He also told him that they wouldn’t listen but He was to say those things anyway. And Jeremiah did as He was told. He was obedient. The people reacted just as God said they would. But, Jeremiah was obedient to God rather than his fears and the audience that would not hear.
Points to ponder?
- Where can you sow the seed of the Word today?
- If you won’t, why?
- Are you able to “hear” with your ears? Can you comprehend what the Word says?
- Have you been sowing seed but see no harvest? Don’t give up.
The bottom line is this from Romans 10:17, “So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.”
If you won’t sow the seeds on the soil, who will?