Monday, March 29, 2010



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?



In chapter 8 verse 4 we come to a familiar scene where Jesus introduces the parable of the sower: 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 rock, 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. 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.'

"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.

FIRST-UNRECEPTIVE SOIL-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.

SECOND-INSINCERE SOIL-Those on the rock 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.

THIRD-DISTRACTED-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.

FOURTH-GOOD SOIL-PRODUCTIVE-But the 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.

1-Jesus is the sower of the seed. In Matthew's version of this teaching (Matt. 13:37) Jesus says that the Son of Man is the sower. When Jesus was physically on the earth, His words were pitched out to those who listened to Him. Today, Jesus is still sowing the seed as we introduce the person of Jesus to others through our lives and through our own stories.

2-The seed is the word of God. What the word of God meant to Jesus was the "Good News of the Kingdom of God." This is what His primary message was as He taught throughout the villages and synagogues. Therefore, the word of God is the active presence of God in us in the form of a seed.

3-This word of the kingdom of God has tremendous spiritual power within us to be productive-to be fruitful. It was able to produce amazing levels of fruit.

4-Its effect on you is determined by your response to it. It's all a matter of responsiveness. NOTE that you are not responsible to bring forth the fruit, but the power of the seed will produce the fruit if planted in the good soil.

In the past few years I've come to realize that these soils are dynamic in our lives. I have been each of these soils at one time or another. So, I must concern myself with having ears to hear the word in order to be receptive as good soil. This also answers what I see with people who all of a sudden "get it", yet they have been around this sowing for years.

Now, here is what blows my mind about this teaching. Jesus is saying that if you have ears to hear, are receptive to the Good News of the kingdom, be sincere about it with a single-minded focus, then you will be very fruitful. He uses 30, 60 and 100 fold in fruitfulness. Fruitfulness is basically the spiritual growth and maturity in your own life and the effects of your life on others around you. He begins with 30 fold. To be 30 fold is three times that of a normal crop. So, this means that the lowest level of fruitfulness will be outstanding. Then, He goes on to say you may enjoy multiples of that, even to the point of 60 and 100 fold. That's incredible-beyond belief!

So, which soil are you right now? Since you are reading or listening to this daily instruction, I'm going to eliminate that one for you. That leaves, the insincere, the distracted and the good soil. So, where are you when you measure your receptivity to the seed Jesus is sowing in your life right now?