Luke 8 – Parable of the Sower – ‘Hearing’ the Word of God

November 5, 2017

Luke 8:1-10….[15]

1 After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

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, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”

When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 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.’” 

EXAMPLE: Road sign concerning speed.

 In the old days, the signs used to say, “Please slow down”! These, apparently, were largely ignored! So a new sign was made saying “REDUCE SPEED NOW!!”.  

With the new sign, there is both a sense of importance to pay attention and a sense of urgency and do what it says!!

In some respects, the parable of the sower is similar in that Jesus is coming with a message that all will hear, but many will simply not hear and understand; see and yet do not see. It’s about those who think they have heard, but have not really heard. 

The Scene: 

Jesus was travelling from village to village “proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God”.

As Jesus began to speak, people from many towns were gathering; i.e. a “large” crowd!! 

The Parable:

Begins describing a farmer who goes out to sow seed (i.e. the Word). The remainder of the parable can be divided into four parts, dependent on where the seed falls (i.e. how we hear the word)….. 

1) V5: “fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up.”

 = V12: “…. are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved.” 

2) V6: “Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.” 

= V13: “…. when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.” 

3) V7: “Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out.” 

= V14: “…. have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” 

4) V8: “Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” 

= V15: “…. who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”

The KEY similarity for all 4 scenarios is that of first “hearing” the word. 

The Response

Following the parable, Jesus calls out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”! 

The fact that Jesus ‘calls out’ emphasizes both the importance of what He is saying and the urgency with which to hear what he is saying! 

SERIOUSLY LISTEN NOW!! – not only with your ears, but with your HEART!! (compare to traffic sign [SLOW DOWN] about speeding concerning the ‘emphasis!)

But we also need to remember that the crowds heard only the parable (they were not told the meaning of the parable)! 

Interestingly, Jesus explains that He speaks in parables so that “though seeing they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand” (cf. which is explained more in Matthew 13: 11-15).

This hard word is a quote from Isaiah 6:9-10 where God says to Isaiah, 

“Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand.’ Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” 

i.e. the hearts of the Israelites were no longer truly ‘hearing’ God’s Word in a way where they sought God and to do His will. Rather, they had repeatedly turned from God’s way and had rendered their hearts insensitive, and their ears dull, and their eyes dim. 

Here, Jesus explains that amongst the crowd there will be some that will be “hearing but not understanding”. 

What does it take to hear and understand? (linked to heart)

One key element is a seeking heart! 

EXAMPLE: If you were listening to a speaker, who was saying some kind-of interesting stuff, but then “yelled” out saying that this is really, really important, how would you respond? 

When Jesus spoke in parables, he often preceded the parable with “the Kingdom of God is like….?” = this is really important!!

Upon hearing the Word of God, a person can either come to Jesus asking for an explanation [as did the disciples] or go away thinking, “oh that’s a nice story” and never really understand the truth behind it. 

Worse still, one could criticize, or make excuses as to why the “message” does not apply to them.

Ultimately, Jesus spoke in parables because He wanted people to come to Him and ask for an explanation. 

Unfortunately, those whose hearts were hard may have listened to Him teach, but then gone away thinking they had heard some great stories, and not ever really grasped the truth [and application] of what He had said.

What is Your Response?

As you hear this message this morning, where is this “SEED” falling in your walk with Jesus?

  1. Perhaps you hear what I’m saying and by all means think, yes that’s a good message, 
    1. but by the time you get home, you may have forgotten this message.

  1. Maybe you hear the Word spoken this morning “receive the word with joy”, and even ponder it’s meaning for you for the rest of the day. 
    1. But with a busy day tomorrow, the urgency of seeking, hearing and understanding God’s word is replaced by the excitement of other self-centered desires.

  1. Maybe you have heard the Word spoken this morning, and it’s really challenged you to seek Jesus for further understanding His Word and truth. E.g. As you wrestle with understanding scripture, you start implementing strategies that will help you to fruitfully follow Christ. 
    1. But you soon find that the demands of work, or family and friends, or other time-demanding commitments slowly invade upon your commitment to seeking the things that Jesus has called you to. 

  1. Or maybe you have heard the Word this morning with ears of understanding. It’s challenged you to seek Christ for understanding and clarity in every Word you read or hear from the Bible or from sermons, and importantly, to do what it says that it may produce “fruit with perseverance”.  

It’s all about hearing and responding

Today I don’t want to focus on this passage in the context of the effectiveness of sowing the seed. But rather the effectiveness of hearing. 

The point is not, “Take heed how you sow.” But: “Take heed how you hear.”

As Jesus ultimately summarizes in vs 18

…………………………..Therefore, consider carefully how you listen.