Authored by Pastor Eric Nana Kobina Baisie
The Parable of the Sower
4 And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. 8 But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
The Purpose of Parables
9 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?”
10 And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that
‘Seeing they may not see,
And hearing they may not understand.’
The Parable of the Sower Explained
11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
The Parable of the Revealed Light
16 “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light.
Memory Verse: Luke 8:12 (NIV)
” THOSE BY THE WAYSIDE ARE THE ONES WHO HEAR; THEN THE DEVIL COMES AND TAKES AWAY THE WORD OUT OF THEIR HEARTS, LEST THEY SHOULD BELIEVE AND BE SAVED.”
One Seed, Diverse Soils (Part 1)
Our Lord Jesus Christ continued to preach, teach, heal and exorcise demons in Palestine. On one occasion when he stationed himself to minister, many people came from different parts of the Land to listen to him. They came from town to town to him because they knew what they had seen in him. As the people drew near to him, Jesus began to tell them a parable involving a farmer who went out to sow his seeds. According to Jesus’ parable, the farmer sowed the same seed through the broadcasting method. At the end of the day some of the seeds fell on four different soils. He explained the parable to his disciples later and said that the seed represent the word of God and the soils represent the diverse hearts with which people listen and keep the word of God. In this edition of Spiritual Nourishment for Today we want to think about the first type of hearers of God’s word, according to Jesus Christ.
According to the parable when the farmer sowed his seeds some fell along the path. Perhaps the ground was hard, having been travelled on by many travellers for many years. Consequently the seeds could not enter the soil; they continued to lie along the path. As the seeds lay on the bare ground the people who travelled along the path trampled on the farmer’s seeds rendering them incapable of germination. Not only did travellers trample on the seeds but birds of the air also ate up the seeds which fell along the path.
Jesus explained the parable to mean that the seeds which fell along the path represent those who hear the word of God and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts making it impossible for such people to believe and be saved. In this case the path along which the seed fell is the heart into which the word of God is received. The people who trample on the seed can represent the physical enemies which make it difficult for the word to enter and sprout within the human heart. The birds of the air which ate up the seed represent the spiritual enemies which reside in the air and prevent the word of God from entering and growing in the hearer. It is important to state that the physical and spiritual enemies are able to prevent the seed from germinating and growing when the path becomes too hard for the seed to penetrate. This leads us to the fact that when the human heart becomes too hardened and non-receptive to God’s word, the word of God stays in the shallowest part of the heart and is easily lost moments after hearing.
Jesus meant to say that when the word of God is preached or taught in any form, some fell along the path. It does not always get into the right hearts as expected. Some people listen to the word of God but do not open their hearts to receive it. They are unable to receive it because they are unwilling to allow the word of God entrance into their hearts. It is because their hearts are occupied with too many of the things of this world that they have no place for the word of God. They may show interest in listening to the word but do not retain it because their minds are full of things in the world such as their businesses, academics, marriages, health issues, financial challenges and many other problems which prevent the word of God the fertile grounds to grow in their hearts. When people allow the things of this world to take greater part of their lives thereby making it impossible for God’s word to enter into their hearts, the devil steals it away from them. This implies that if we do not hide the word of God in our hearts, but rather expose it to the busyness of this world, the devil can easily steal it away from us.
Beloved in our Lord Jesus Christ, it is sad to say that many of us reading this passage have hearts similar to the path along the road. This is because we allow so many things to fill our hearts and thoughts that we hardly get what the Lord tells us either through the still small voice or through his chosen messengers. When we listen to a sermon or read God’s word we easily forget because we do not make the conscious effort to keep it in our hearts. The messages we listen to every day do not go farther than our ear drums. We remember secular movies and books read than the word of God which comes to us. After listening to a sermon many of us forget after five minutes. Sometimes we are even unable to follow the sermons being preached because we may be thinking of many other things which are more important to us. This attitude is negative because it does not allow the word of God to grow in us. If we do not allow God’s word to find entrance and grow in our hearts we cannot grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:8)!
May we grow in our desire to keep the word of God in our hearts always!
One Seed Diverse Soils (Part 2)
Memory Verse: Luke 8:13 (NIV)
” THOSE ON THE ROCK 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.”
In the previous edition we looked into Jesus’ parable concerning the farmer whose seed fell on different soils. We began with the seed which fell by the wayside and made the point that those who refuse the word of God entrance into their hearts allow the devil to steal the word from their hearts easily. In this edition we want to concentrate on the seed which fell on the rocks.
According to Jesus, the road side is not the only place some of the farmer’s seed fell; some also fell on rocky soils. According to the Master, the seeds which fell on the rocks, unlike those who which fell along the path, germinated but withered soon after because of lack of moisture. Farmers know very well that the conditions necessary for the growth of a seed include fertile soil, arable seed, air and moisture. In the absence of any of the above conditions crops cannot grow well. According to Jesus, there was nothing wrong with the seed. There was something however wrong with the soil because it was shallow. The shallow nature of the soil on the rock made it impossible for the roots of the plant to grow deep into the ground. This made it impossible for it to stand firm. The rocky soil also lacked moisture because it could not retain the water which passed through it. It is all because the soil was very shallow. The lack of moisture made it impossible for the young plant to grow strongly. It became like a building with a poor foundation which could not stand the strong winds which blew against it.
Jesus made it clear that even though the plant germinated, it had no support to enable it bear any fruit. It died before it could bear any fruit. Jesus was making the point that those who hear the word of God but are unable to retain it cannot grow and bear any spiritual fruit. They may be seen to be growing but will soon die off.
The Master went on to explain that those on the rock are the people who joyfully receive the word of God as it comes to them. Unfortunately their hearts are not well prepared for the word and are therefore unable to keep it in their hearts. They are like shallow-hearted people when it comes to the word of God. Those people love to go to church and listen to God’s word or even take delight in reading God’s word. Their hearts are so much touched by the word of God that they quickly start practicing the word without allowing it to sink deep into their hearts. Such people may even start asking others to practice what they have learnt even though they may not understand it well. All may seem well at the initial stages but it does not necessarily mean they have fully understood and kept the word in their hearts. They receive the Gospel emotionally and lose it emotionally. It does not mean it is negative to receive the word emotionally. Emotion is good if it has strong roots to support it. Those who receive the word of God emotionally are expected to have deep understanding backed by strong conviction which leads to deep sorrow and penitence. Such people are more likely to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ than those whose joy is not backed by deep understanding arising from proper meditation of God’s word.
Jesus said that the newly and quickly sprouted plants withered when the scorching sun shined upon it. The scorching sun can be compared to the worldly challenges which confront believers from time to time. These may be temptations or trials but because they are not deep-rooted in God’s word they are unable to face them. They easily give up when they are faced with temptations. Such believers are those who will opt for rich though evil-minded men as their husbands when they have to make a decision on whom to marry. Such believers are those who may accept any job offer without considering their negative implications on their relationship with Christ just because they need money. They are those who easily stop following Christ when they are faced with difficulties in life. They move from one place to another seeking for solutions to their life’s problems instead of relying on Christ Jesus.
It is an undeniable fact that there are many of such people in our churches. Even some of you reading this message may be shallow-minded and emotional Christians who only delight in hearing the word of God without the conscious effort to retain and practice it. It is important for us to become delighted by the word of God upon hearing it. But it is more important to allow the word of God to touch the depths of our natures, wills and reasons in order not to shrivel when we have to face the toil and self-sacrifice inherent in the Christian life. If we do not allow the word of God to gain roots in our hearts, we cannot grow into maturity in Christ. May the LORD help us to develop deep roots by which the word of God can grow in us!
One Seed, Diverse Soils (Part 3)
Memory Verse: Luke 8:14 (NIV).
“THE SEED THAT FELL AMONG THORNS STANDS FOR THOSE WHO HEAR, BUT AS THEY GO ON THEIR WAY THEY ARE CHOKED BY THE WORRIES, RICHES AND PLEASURES AND THEY DO NOT MATURE.”
In the previous section, we thought about those who hear the word of God and receive it with joy and begin to live according to it. However because of the shallow nature of their hearts, the word sprouts quickly and dies quickly in them. Such hearts are like the rocky soils on which the farmers’ seed fell. In this edition we want to think about the seeds which fell among thorns.
The road side and the rocks are not the only places some of the farmer’s seeds fell. According to Jesus Christ, some of the seed also fell among thorns. The thorns at the time of Jesus were very identical with the grains which were sown by the broadcasting method.
Those which fell among the thorns got mixed up with the thorns making it difficult for the farmer’s seeds to be identified and separated from the thorns. The thorns in any farm seriously compete with the farmers’ seeds for space, air and water. The seeds may germinate and grow well to a certain stage but because of the thorns they may not be able to bear any food. The thorns may grow to cover the land and other crops on it, making the growth of other plants very difficult. This is because they may lack the right amounts of nutrients needed to grow well. Such plants compete with other occupants of the soil and eventually get less than the needed nutrients to grow. We all know that seeds which receive less moisture, air and nutrients cannot grow well.
According to Jesus, the thorns choked the plants thereby making it very difficult or impossible for the cereals of the farmer to grow to maturity. The thorns can represent the things of the world which compete with the word of God for space in the hearers’ hearts. They take away some of the nutrients in the soil needed by the plants. The thorns and other weeds on the farm also compete for moisture and air with the plants. Because the plants and the thorns or weeds may receive equal amounts of space, moisture and nutrients, they may tend to grow at the same rate, thereby making them very identical. Like the parable Jesus told in Matthew 13, the weeds can mingle with the wheat making identification very difficult at the initial stages until they reach maturity (Matthew 13:29-30). This is same with those who hear the word of God, allow it entrance into their hearts and begin to grow. Yet they are unable to sustain their growth due to the things of this world. Some of the things of the world which may stifle hearers’ growth according to the Master are worries, riches and pleasures of this world. These have been the major contributory factors impeding the growth and fruitfulness of believers of our day and time.
There are many believers of this world whose growth is being stifled by the worries of this world. They attend churches alright, study God’s word, pray and try to grow into maturity in Christ. But they are always worried about what to eat, what to wear, where to sleep, how to travel, how to go to school, how to raise money to start business, how to find a job, how to find a future partner, how to live healthy among others. They are never at peace with themselves because they always have one thing or another to worry about. They forget that as believers we have been admonished by the Master not to worry about what to eat or wear because the Father who feeds the birds of the sky and clothes the lilies of the river will take care of us. The Apostle Paul also admonishes us not worry about anything as believers. He says in Philippians 4:6 as follows:
“NEVER WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING. INSTEAD, IN EVERY SITUATION LET YOUR PETITION BE MADE KNOWN TO GOD THROUGH PRAYERS AND REQUESTS WITH THANKSGIVING” (ISV).
A believer who always worries about everything demonstrates lack of faith in God. He undermines the greatness of God and magnifies his own problems. This attitude will not help the believer to bear any fruit.
Another reason which prevents the hearer of the word of God from bearing fruit is pleasures of this world. Many believers delight in God’s word and are willing to live it yet their attention is divided between things of the Spirit and pleasures of the world. Most often, believers allow the desires of the flesh to take over them which consequently affect their relationship with Christ. If we allow the things of this world to occupy our hearts and thoughts at all times, we shall lose our focus on the things above where God resides and has prepared for those who love him. Such things may include the desire to be wealthy in the things of this world. There are some Christians who think that the riches of this world are all they desire. They therefore seek after the things of the world before the Kingdom of heaven. This will not help us in building any good relationship with God. Let us refrain from the worries, the pleasures and riches of this world in order to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! May we never allow the worries, the riches and pleasures of this world overwhelm us and stifle our growth as believers!
One Seed, Diverse Soils (Part 4)
Memory Verse: Luke 8:15 (NIV).
“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.”
In the previous sections we tried to understand Jesus’ parable told in Luke 8:4-16. We thought about the first three places (soils) where the farmer’s seeds fell. We have come to understand that the road side, the rocky soil and the soil full of thorns are not the right places to grow seeds which could bear good fruits. Each of the soils represents a heart of a hearer of God’s word. The only soil which is good enough for growing crops is the fourth soil mentioned by Jesus as we find in Luke 8:8. Jesus describes that soil as the good soil. In this edition we shall attempt to better understand the ‘good’ soil Jesus mentioned.
In the first three soils described, we saw some defects. The soil by the roadside was dry and hard. It did not allow water and air to pass through easily. The seeds thus became exposed to the birds of the air which ate some, while those who walked along the road trampled upon some. These made it impossible for the seeds to germinate. The second type of soil is the rocky soil which had shallow amount of soil. It could not allow the seeds which germinated to develop deep roots into the soil. It could also not retain moisture because of its shallow nature. The seeds which fell in the thorns grew relatively better than those which fell on the rocks. Unfortunately the thorns competed for moisture, nutrients and space with the crops rendering the crops incapable of yielding any fruits. The crops were so close to the thorns that the thorns choked them and rendered them fruitless. The only soil which eventually bore fruit was the good soil. What then is a good soil?
The good soil is the one which is soft, deep and clean. Because it is soft, the seeds can easily enter, just as moisture and air can also enter to aid in germination. It has the ability to retain the right amount of water needed by the plant. Sunlight is also able to penetrate the soft soil. Its dept allows it to develop deep roots to keep the plant firm and strong. Winds cannot easily blow away plants with deep roots. A clean soil is the one devoid of unhealthy plants which compete negatively for space, nutrients and moisture with the farmer’s seeds. Such soil is said to be good because when seeds are sown in them, they do not just sprout and wither soon afterwards; they sprout, remain firm till they bear fruit and produce multiples of the seeds sown. If a farmer plants two seeds of grains and harvests just two seeds of grains, it will turn out to be a great loss.
Jesus explained that the good soil is the person with noble and good heart. Such a person listens attentively to the word of God and keeps it in his or her heart. He is not a passive listener of God’s word as many of us are. He is a good listener of God’s word and allows the word to sink deep into his heart. He does not just keep it in mind and professes it to show how knowledgeable he is in the word of God but he practices what he learns from God’s word. There are many people who have studied God’s word for several years and can even quote scriptures by heart. Yet they hardly practice what the word of God teaches. It is important for believers to keep reminding ourselves that the acquisition of knowledge of God’s word will remain useless until it is put into practice. A mere knowledge of God’s word cannot let one produce any fruit but the practice of God’s word can. That is why James admonishes believers not be mere hearers of God’s word but the doers (James 1:22-23).
Jesus further hinted that even those who retain the word of God in their hearts after listening to it need to persevere before they can bear any fruit. This also implies that it is not just easy to listen and practice God’s word to enable a person bear fruit; perseverance is very much required. This means that even as the Christian listens to God’s word and desires to practice in order to bear fruit, he or she may face some challenges which can deprive him or her of fruit bearing. Some of these challenges may be wealth, pleasures of the world, anxieties, health, marital and financial. Without perseverance, a Christian may be diverted from the course of following Christ. Every believer whose heart is prepared to listen or study God’s word and retain it, must of necessity persevere in order to be able to overcome the challenges which seek to draw him away from Christ! It is my prayer that we shall all allow God’s word entrance into our hearts and receive more grace to be able to persevere in times of difficulties.
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.