Luke 8:4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable.
About twenty-five of Jesus’ parables are found throughout the gospels. They are short comparison stories, from everyday life, that make a spiritual point. This parable is dear to me because of the way God used it early in my Christian life.
I was eighteen years old, and had only been a believer for a few months. I shared my faith with friends, but most of them thought I had lost my mind. As my popularity declined, I wondered if I could back away from Jesus, and recover my reputation. I knew little of the Bible, but opened it up at random, and came to this parable. Here I saw myself so vividly that I got down on my knees and recommitted my life to Christ.
Luke 8:5 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.
Most of Jesus’ audience recognized this scene because it was so common. Farmers would take a bag of seed into their field and scatter it on the ground. Every field had a path where some of the seed would fall, and birds would eat it up.
This is one of the few parables Jesus interpreted, so we know exactly what he meant. The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved (Luke 8:11-12).
Like seed on a path, the word of God rests lightly on these people. It has little more significance to them than children’s stories. If you want to know where the devil is on Sunday morning, he is in the parking lot of many churches, waiting to steal God’s word from people’s hearts.
Luke 8:6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture.
[These] are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away (Luke 8:13), said Jesus.
If there is rock beneath an inch of soil, plants will shoot up quickly because all the growth is above ground. They appear to be healthy, but do not last, because the roots are very shallow. The plants soon wither and die beneath the scorching sun.
This is where I saw myself in the story. I believed for a while, but in the time of testing, I began to reconsider. The disapproval of my peers felt like the scorching sun. Maybe Christianity was not the best way for me. In fact, there are many unbelievers who once claimed to be Christians. They made a profession of faith, but did not put down roots. It was only a matter of time before their faith withered and died.
Many years ago I led a young man to Christ, and his eyes lit up with faith. I encouraged him to read a chapter of the Bible almost every day, to spend time in prayer, and to join a good church. I said, If you do this your faith will grow. If you don’t, it will wither and die. He stayed with it for a while, but his church attendance declined, and then he fell away. I wish I could say this was unusual, but it has been a pattern for two thousand years.
Luke 8:7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.
Thorns and weeds are nasty things that want to take over the world. They compete for sunlight and soil, keeping good plants from reaching their potential. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature (Luke 8:14), said Jesus.
Many make a profession of faith but never mature in their faith. Instead of growing up in Christ, they do not grow at all. Instead of bearing fruit for God, they remain fruitless due to the many weeds in their lives.
And all we have to do for this to happen to us is nothing. The weeds will grow all by themselves. The only way to grow in faith is to pull out the weeds whenever we see them cropping up.
Luke 8:8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.
[T]he seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop (Luke 8:15), said Jesus.
This is how to make the most of our lives. It is not a matter of wealth or fame, but of hearing God’s word, retaining God’s word, and living God’s word to the end.
My mother-in-law is in her eighties, but continues to visit women in prison, to share God’s word with them. It is not always easy, but she has done this faithfully for decades. Through her many years of service, countless women have believed, and will thank her in heaven. Serving the Lord is more than a duty; it is how we make the most of our lives.
Reflection and Review
Why does God’s word rest lightly on some?
What things hinder spiritual growth?
How can we make the most of our lives?