By Daniel Cosico
A parable is really a simple tool that is used by Jesus to share something about a spiritual truth. He is a master teacher that uses ordinary things to explain to the listener what he needs to learn at that time.
Luke 8:4-15 tells about the parable of the sower. It says, “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, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
The Purpose of the Parables
And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 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.’ Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 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. 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. 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. 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.”
Using the parable, Jesus uses common images to share spiritual truths into the human heart.
The Sower is the Lord, the seed is His good news and the soil is the human heart. When we hear the good news, we can either accept it and it would produce a harvest of spiritual fruit, or if we are not prepared, we may not produce anything at all in the Kingdom of God. Sadly, many people will grow old and die not knowing that they are supposed to produce fruit. They heard the good news, they accepted it but they did not bear fruit.
The Plan of the Sower
When you plant a seed, what do you expect? You expect it to grow and bear fruit right? So just like God, He has a plan for your life. The sower, who is Jesus, will come back whether we are ready or not, and He will look at the seeds that He spread. God’s plan is for us to be saved, for us to turn away from sin, repent and come to Him. His plan is for us to bear fruit. John 15:4-5 says, “Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” You cannot bear fruit alone. You must remain in Jesus Christ, the vine. That is the plan.
The Potential fo the Seed
By nature,when you plant a seed, it will grow. Do you know of a seed that produces only one fruit? Again, by nature, when you plant one seed, it will bear more fruit and more seeds. The same is true with our life. We heard the gospel, that Jesus died, He was buried, He rose again on the third day and conquered death, sin and satan. When we heard that, by nature, we are supposed to produce more seeds. That is the plan. But it is up to you if you will do the plan of the sower. But what will be the fruit?
A. Sanctification means we become more like Him. When the good news is planted in your life, we become more like Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 6:11 says “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Our goal is to be like Jesus.
B. Spirituality means we behave more like Him. When the good news is planted in your heart, we behave more like Jesus. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Can you choose just one? It is a package deal. John Piper said, “When you are full to the brim, you will spill when bumped. What do people feel? Acid or grace?
C. Souls mean we are burdened like Jesus. When we see people who require extra grace, we are burdened like Jesus because it is another soul to save. Matthew 9:36 says, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Heart check. How is your fruit? As a Christian, have you become more like Jesus? Do you behave more like Him? Are you burdened like Him?
Since you know the plan of the sower and the potential of the seed, I want to show you the problem of the soil, of the human heart.
3. The Problem of the Soil (responses to God’s word)
A. Hard soil/hard heart - Hebrews 3:7-8 says, Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness.” The plan of God for the Israelites is for them to reach the promised land. But because their hearts have been hardened, they did not allow the plans of the Lord to work in their life and keep on complaining, they did not see the promised land. It is their fault, not God’s. Why do you think they hardened their heart? Maybe because they are not yet ready or they have a sin that they cannot let go of. If this is the case, then the devil and his minions can snatch the gospel away from you.The hard heart is not ready for the grace of God that will result in His salvation and his bearing fruit. When Jesus comes back, you only have two options - whether you accepted Him or not.
B. Stony ground/shallow heart - A perfect example for this is a person who heard the good news in emotional distress. He heard that Jesus can give him peace so he received Him. But when another problem comes in his Christian life, it was easy for that person to forget because of his shallow heart. Remember that our goal in our Christian walk is not the blessing but Jesus, the one who blesses. If your being a Christian is anchored in anything else other than Jesus Christ, then we have shallow hearts and we will not produce fruit. John Owens said, “ My goal is God Himself. At any cost dear Lord, by any road.”
C. Thorny ground/unruly heart - My dad always says that no life is problem free, whether we are a Christian or not. If we only think about life’s problems, we will not mature. The only difference between a life with Jesus and a life without Him is, if we have Jesus, we will not easily falter. Worrying is a sin. They are any burden or decision that preoccupy people at the point of choking out the word. We worry so much that we do not hear the word of God anymore. We have to calm our hearts and not worry. Deceitfulness of riches, or anything that gives us a false sense of security and happiness such as money, power and position can also kill the seed or the word of God inside us. The problem is, because you are not focused on the plan of the sower in your life, you become unfruitful. You do not prioritize the sower’s plan in your life.
The apostle Paul was beat up, tortured and was in prison most of the time when he was writing his letters. If you are in prison, you have many needs. You need supplies, you need someone to talk to, you need to become free. But Philippians 4:10-14 says, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.” Paul says he is content as long as he remains in who makes him who he is, and that is Jesus Christ. Matthew 6:33 also says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Hellen Hogarth Lemmel also says, “ Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of the earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” As Christians, our eyes should for us on Jesus only. Because everything else will be added after.
D. Fertile soil/open, receptive heart - Did it mention that the last kind of soil is not thorny or hard? Why is the soil good? Because it bore fruit. It was called a good soil because when the seed was planted, it bore fruit - he became more like Jesus, he behaved more like Jesus and he had a burden like Jesus.
We have no right to tell somebody else what kind of soil they are. The only one who can classify the soil is the sower. We may be on thorny soil or shallow soil. But be assured that if we follow the plans of the Lord, we will bear fruit. Philippians 1:6 says “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Whoever threw the seeds will take care of the soil. Let us be the soil and let the sower do his thing.