These were once my favorite posts to write because I would challenge myself to study the passages long before I ever composed a post. Now, I simply feel a need to revive this series, and perhaps the Facebook Group also. It’s about time that we all came to a better understanding of the Word of God; the Word of life.
“A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold.
And when he had said these things, he cried, ‘He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.’
And his disciples asked him, saying, ‘What might this parable be?’
And he said, ‘Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.’” –Luke 8:5-15
What does it all mean?
I know there was a lot there. That’s not the shortest of parables. But there’s a great deal of insight into witnessing and how people will respond or react to the preaching of the gospel after receiving it. Now, this parable isn’t for those who reject the gospel, only those who accept it as truth. But simply accepting the truth never saved anyone.
Let’s break this down:
Before I start my explanation, this is what I believe about these verse based upon study, reading, and listening to the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying I’m right, I’m human and there is still plenty of room for error here. All I wish to do through the Bible Book Club is share with you my observations on the passage and hopefully encourage you to study as well.
- By The Way Side
- “…and it was trodden down…”(V5) The seed thrown by the way side is seed that never has the chance to take root. Seed that is not firmly planted in the hearts of men. When we share the gospel and it meets with indifference” perhaps even joy, but those who receive aren’t prepared to believe…yet. Then what comes of them?
- “…and the fowls of the air devoured it…”(V5) If the seed is not accepted, not allowed to take root in the heart, the scavengers will come and devour it as if it had never been. “…then cometh the devil, and taketh the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.”(V12)
Those are the effects of the seed falling by the way side, but what is the cause? Have you ever used the term, “fallen by the wayside”? I have before, and it’s common enough in our culture to draw this parallel. When we say that something has fallen by the wayside, we are saying that it was lost in the mix, it wasn’t top priority so it never got done. That’s how these people of the way side are treating the gospel. They might believe and be saved one day, but not today. Yet, the Devil, fearing they should accept the gospel, comes to steal it away while they sit in apathy. It’s a dangerous game to put God on hold.
- On Rocky Ground
- “…as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away…”(V6) To those with rocky hearts, because the heart is the soil of the gospel, the seed meets with opposition. These are those who hardened their hearts against the gospel. They were not willing to allow become better soil for the seed or attend to the needs of their soul.
- “…because it lacked moisture…”(V6) Without the water of the Word, the seed of the gospel cannot grow. Seeds must be cared for and attended to in order to flourish. They must have proper conditions to thrive. “…they which, when they hear, receive the Word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.”(V13)
There is the what that happens, but here’s the why. Those who made their hearts rocky ground, the Word cannot abide in them, it cannot take root in their lives. There is no water, there is no tending to the seed. When the gospel comes to the rocky heart, it is glad! But the joy of knowing about salvation and the belief that the gospel is the Word and the Word is truth doesn’t save. The devils believe and tremble. It’s not about belief. These fall away in temptation because their belief is not faith; their head-knowledge is not heart-trust; God is great as long as life is good. But when being a religious means it’ll cost me something… I’m out. But really, they were never in. Having the appearance of Godliness, but not the presence of Godliness.
- The Thorns
- “…some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it.”(V7) These are those who live in the world; whose cares are the cares of life. And upon hearing the Word, they allow the cares of this life, peer pressure, circumstances, pride, selfishness, doubt, and ever other evil care and worry destroy the seed in their heart.
- “…they which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.”(V14) The thorny ground has soil rich enough for the seed to take root and begin to mature,–remember this is not the seed of salvation, merely the seed of the gospel–, yet the ‘faith’ of those living among the thorns is nearsighted. When faced with the choice, they choose this world’s fleeting enticements over eternal joy and glory.
Again we are faced with why. Why do they not accept, believe, and surrender to the truth of the gospel? Because they are more focused on themselves than God. They have an illusion of control over their own lives and refuse to surrender that control to God. The world, they think, holds more for them than God does. And their self-centric religion will be their doom.
- The Good Soil
- “…and other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold.”(V8) Why did this seed prosper? Because the ground was prepared to receive it. It fell on good ground; soil prepared for planting yields great crops. This was ground of hearts ready and waiting for the gospel, willing to allow it into their lives and change them.
- “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”(V15) Those prepared to receive the Word do so in an honest and good heart. But it doesn’t stop there, they also keep the Word and then bring forth fruit.
Why is fruit important to the verse? Because it is a seed being planted and a good seed on good ground brings forth a good tree with good fruit. The Scripture says the tree is known by its fruit, (Matthew 12:33, Luke 6:44). Every good tree bears good fruit, and every corrupt tree bears corrupt fruit.
The fruit is the evidence of The Holy Spirit working in and through us: the evidence of our salvation. For the seed by the way side, it never had the chance to bear fruit. For the seed on rocky ground, the tree died from lack of root and moisture and the fruit was corrupt. For the thorns, other things stole the nutrients that would’ve allowed the tree to grow and it too died. What is the great difference between the good ground and thorny or rocky ground? Having heard the Word, they on the rocks receive it with joy, and they on the thorns go forth. Yet, having heard the word, they on the good ground keep it.
These aren’t examples of different ways salvation manifests itself in those who profess Christ. No, these are examples of those who are preached the Word of God and the truth of the gospel. Only that seed which falls on good ground can grow a tree which brings forth good fruit: the evidence of salvation in that life.
As always, thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts, drop me a comment and we’ll chat!
—the anonymous novelist