FOR AUDIO VERSION CLICK HERE.The clear theme of the parable of the soils is hearing or being fully receptive to the Word of God, and it seems that this theme stretches from 8:1 where Jesus is traveling from village to village "proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God" to 8:21 where Jesus says that his true family are those who hear God's Word and do it (8:21).
In the first paragraph here (16-18) Jesus gives the illustration of a lamp: "No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light." If you are going to light a lamp, then you place it at the highest point in the room in order to shine the light as wide and far as possible. Jesus' statement is almost funny-and he probably smiled when he said it. If you're going to light a lamp, you do it for illumination, not to hide or conceal it. If that were your purpose, you wouldn't light it at all.
Jesus then gives the purpose for using the lamp properly: "For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open."
In the previous paragraph Jesus tells His disciples that He is revealing to them the secrets of the kingdom. The light of revelation, the previously unknown mystery, has been lit by the coming of Jesus and His proclamation of the good news of the kingdom. Jesus then lit up the disciples by giving them the secrets of the kingdom. Now, it is time for these secrets to be made known everywhere THROUGH THEM. The "lamp" revealing the good news of the kingdom has now been lit, and must not be extinguished until the mission is complete.
Jesus continues: "Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Those who have will be given more; as for those who do not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them."
NOTE, because you have been given the secrets of the kingdom to reveal these secrets to the world for them to hear, you must be careful how you listen. Again, this entire chapter is about hearing-being the good soil that is receptive to the seed of the kingdom knowledge. Then Jesus inserts a warning that those who are listening intently so that they have receptive hearts will be given more understanding of the kingdom and those who are not listening well will lose what understanding they have.
It's all about hearing-having ears to hear. In the parable of the sower there were 6 uses of the word "hear" or "hearing". James, the brother of Jesus, wrote "Don't be hearers of the word only who delude themselves, but be doers of the word." What he means by "hearing" properly is to act upon what you hear. Practice what you hear from Jesus.
Now Jesus' mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you."
He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice."
Hearing God's word and putting it into practice is the message that must be indelibly tattooed upon our minds. So, here Jesus makes a clear, yet difficult comparison regarding His mother and brothers who have shown up to visit Him. He says, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice." Jesus is talking Kingdom talk. He isn't anti mother and brothers, but is demonstrating that in the kingdom your real family members are those who hear God's word and practice it.
I return to Jesus' earlier words, "Be careful how you listen", because Jesus will give much more to those who have ears to hear. Are you listening?