Luke 8: 1 – 18 NLT
“Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, 2 along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; 3 Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.”
(Just a quick note about the three women mentioned here. Mary Magdalene was healed from demon possession. We see her again at Jesus’ resurrection when he meets her in the garden. Joanna is also mentioned as one of the women who finds the empty tom. Susanna is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. Those three were not the only women who followed Jesus and his disciples, just the only ones named. Jesus allowed these women to help him and the disciples with their own resources, humble way of doing ministry.)
Parable of the Farmer Scattering Seed
4 One day Jesus told a story in the form of a parable to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him: 5 “A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. 6 Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. 8 Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had said this, he called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets (mysteries) of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables to teach the others so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled:
‘When they look, they won’t really see.
When they hear, they won’t understand.’ (Isaiah 6: 9)
11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. 12 The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. 15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.”
Parable of the Lamp
16 “No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house. 17 For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.
18 “So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.”
The True Family of Jesus
19 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they couldn’t get to him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they want to see you.” 21 Jesus replied, “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.”
Jesus is now being followed by crowds of people. When his mother and brothers came to talk with him, they couldn’t even get close. That’s a huge crowd! Why were so many people following him around? The parable Jesus told about the farmer scattering seed gives us an idea. Many people were there to see this famous person they had heard about. Some perhaps hoped he could give them something – they had heard about his miracles. Some were likely skeptics. Not everyone was eager to hear and follow Jesus with their whole being.
Farmers back then didn’t have the machinery we have now. They didn’t plow their fields with the huge furrows we see in the fields we drive by. Charles Swindoll in his commentary on Luke says: “In the ancient Near East, farmers prepared a field by plowing just before the rainy season to loosen the soil and break up clods. Wooden plows dug shallow furrows, merely scratching the surface. After this, clumps could be broken up and the surface leveled with a hoe or, if it was a large field, by dragging a comb-like harrow over the surface. Sowing grain consisted of walking through the field, scooping a handful of seed from a sack hanging over the shoulder, and then throwing the seed in wide arcs. Afterward, the seed would be covered by smoothing the soil, either by hand or by another implement’. (page 213)
Some of the seed would fall on the pathways without a chance of germinating. There are people who don’t want anything to do with any religion – or people who are very against the Christian faith. Some people hear about Jesus, perhaps attend church for a bit, but then decide it’s not for them. Some might decide that faith is a good thing, but there is so much else in life that’s more important. Maybe they have problems that seem overwhelming (“the cares of life”) or they focus more on getting ahead in life (“riches and pleasures of this life”). For some people, their faith in God becomes the focal point of their lives and those people see a wonderful result.
That would describe the people listening to Jesus back then, and the people who live with us today. When Jesus told this parable, he wasn’t trying to be mysterious so the people in that crowd wouldn’t have any idea of what was going on. He knew many in the crowd weren’t really genuine in why they were there. He goes on to say you never hide a light. You don’t have a light that you cover with something or put under a bed. For those who were truly seeking a Messiah who would save them – not from Rome – but from their own sinful behaviour, they would see Jesus. They would follow him sincerely, just as the disciples did. They would know “everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all” They didn’t have to be one of the 12 disciples, they didn’t have to be one of Jesus’ family. “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.”
So how does that apply to us today? When we talk about our faith to others, some will just tell us they couldn’t care less. Some might listen and attend church with us a couple of times, but then decide it’s not for them. Some might decide that attending church is a good thing, but their focus is not really on faith in Jesus, but rather lots of other things that seem more important. But should that stop us from sharing our faith with others? No. We don’t know the results with them, but we ourselves with grow in our relationship with God. And that seed that was scattered in the parable did bring in a big harvest. Sharing is important!
Here’s a challenge for you this week. Be brave. Mention your faith to someone. Once we get back to meeting in person, invite someone to come to church with you. If you’re like me, you likely cringe at talking about your faith with someone you work with, or who is a neighbour. But if the seed isn’t scattered at all? Then what?
Our song for today is Until the Whole World Hears by Casting Crowns