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Matt 13:3-23; Mk 4:2-20; Lk 8:4-15

Luke 8:4-15 "While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed,

When he said this, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, "'though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.' "This is the meaning of the parable:

The seed is the word of God.

Discussion Questions

What is the seed?
What is the growing process?
Can you elaborate on each of these types of ground?
How can people in the first three develop good soil?
And how can those on the good soil maintain the condition of their soil?
Among which type of soil or soils represent the redeemed?
What type of soil are you growing on?

Comments and Meaning

Word of God
Birds ate
The ways of the world
philosophy of the world
Taken away
(Didn't understand)
No Moisture
Religiously shallow
Believed but
fell away after testing
(Not deeply rooted)
Distracted Christians
Worries, Riches, Lusts
100 X
Spiritual Believers
Noble & Good heart
through Perseverance

Christians are called to be the farmers, sowing the seed of the Word of God into the world. Of course the farmer wants to sow his seed only a good ground so that it will be fruitful. And there are often things he can do to prepare the soil. But this is not soley his responsibility. As he sows seed, I would imagine he would focus on what he perceives is good soil. But in the process, the seed also lands in places where the soil is not ideal.

The ones along the path are those who fail to understand how the word applies to them. They don't take it to heart. Satan blinds their eyes to the truth, or puts mental stumbling blocks in their way. I'm always amazed when I hear someone from the intellectual elite say that Bible is difficult for them to understand. I think they must simply be reading it incorrectly. The Bible pretty much says what it means and means what it says. And thus people of all ages and generations have come to understand it. But there is a spiritual blindness that veils people's hearts. Speaking of the blindness of the Jews to the revelation of the Bible, Paul writes:
"But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away." 2Cor 3:14-16
Those on the rock accept the word, but with a shallow faith not of salvific value, not on the level of a "conviction", but more of an opinion. They received it with joy but they didn't understand the implications. They may have accepted Christ as Savior, but not as Lord, which is not an acceptable type of faith to save. On the other hand, you would not have known from their initial reaction that they only had a shallow faith. It wasn't until they faced trials that their faith was reveal. It was not that they had saving faith to begin with, as if they had been deeply rooted, and then lost saving faith. But rather the quality of their faith was revealed by their reaction to trials.
Jesus says, "Whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." Rev 22:17 But that water is running under ground, and you must have a deeply rooted faith to obtain it. Those on rocky soil had their roots blocked by rocks. Rocks are our own deeply rooted convictions which hinder us from really believing. For example we may have convictions about having other people think well of us. Our whole lives may be dominated out of the fear of what other people think of us. We may already have religious convictions that we refuse to give up. But instead we try to fit Jesus into such convictions. Thus you end up with religions like Islam which, while not denying Christ, simply change him to fit their religion.

Those on the rock must in humility break up their soil and remove the rocks. They must be willing to give up their former convictions which hinder them from believing. Or else others can pray for God to break up their soil by bringing them through humbling circumstances in hopes of developing in them the necessary humility to respond to the gospel properly.

Those among the thorns I think are among the redeemed. Their problem is not one of being alive, but being mature. The Matt and Mark passages also say that they are "unfruitful". One must be mature before one gets married and has children. So also in the Christian life, to be fruitful one's faith must be mature.

What hindered their maturity was that they were growing in the midst of all kinds of concerns. And these concerns shaded them from the Son of God. They weren't getting sufficient light to grow to maturity. Furthermore, the plants around them were sucking the water out of the ground making it less available for them. The worries, riches and pleasures in life can suck the Christian life right out of us, leaving us drained, incapable of producing fruitfulness.

It doesn't take much ability or material things to be fruitful. It takes just five loaves and two fish. But we must, by faith, be drawing on the life of Christ free from distractions "casting all our anxiety on him." (1Pet 5:7) And we should view ourselves as soldiers and servants of Christ, no owning our own lives. "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs-- he wants to please his commanding officer." (2Ti 2:4) This is not to say that we live as monks, but to follow the examples of Jesus and Paul. For example Paul worked at a secular job, but it didn't define who he was. Similarly with respect to marriage. Raising a family can be like living among thorns. Paul writes:

"I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs-- how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world-- how he can please his wife-- and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world-- how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord." 1Cor 7:32-35

Of course most Christians are, or will be, married. In such a situation they must learn to fulfill their responsibilities while not compromising their devotion to the Lord, which can be a challenge. One wonders how Jesus would have handled the situation if he had been married and had kids to raise.

The seed on good ground are those who don't just simply understand the message, but receive it into their hearts and conform their life to it. This is not to say that they received it with a blind, gullible faith. But that they took it seriously. Consider the noble manner in which the Bereans received the message:

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Acts 17:11

These are not like people on the rocky ground who received the message quickly and gullibly. These were people that received it with some skepticism, carefully examining it, making sure that it was true. And having done so, they will also be prepared to defend their beliefs against skeptical unbelievers, having asked of themselves the same questions. Through slow gradual perseverance they produce a crop. Weeds grow up over night. But fruit-producing plants take a while. James writes:

"you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:3,4

One more thing to mention is that, though one may have started out on good soil, such soil has to periodically be broken up or else pride can harden the soil and rocks can also grow up. Many Christians who started off well, became popular and ended up not so well as they started. Becoming respected and popular is somewhat a danger. For it removes potential sources of humiliation which can keep the soil healthy. Respectable Christians must therefore be on their guard to avoid the pitfalls of pride and popularity. Nonetheless, I have found that institutional leaders tend to be the most arrogant of Christians.


(Rap from BBSRC)

One day a farmer went out to sow
Scattering seed to and frow
Some fell along the path
Which could not deliver from God's wrath
For the devil took what they hadn't craved
So they didn't believe and were not saved.
Some fell on rocks but withered and died
For their faith was not deep enough to be qualified
To receive the life God promised to those
Who really believed Jesus died and arose.
Yes at first they were overjoyed
But when trials came their faith was destroyed
For they received it without their faith being rooted
And so fell away after they were persecuted
But then some among thorns fell
But in the end didn't mature too well.
For they were too concerned for their security
To bring any fruit to maturity
But those on good soil retained what they heard
It wasn't taken away by any bird
Nor did they fall away like those on the rock
But continued to believe when others did mock
The problems in life would not make them stop
And by persevering they produced a crop

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