Faithlife Sermons

Luke 8:1-15



What is a parable?
If you have been in church for a while, you probably know that a parable is a story.
It’s a story that teaches a truth in a really memorable way.
Once we go through this parable carefully, you will probably always remember it.
What a wonderful method of teaching this is!
But it is only wonderful if we understand the significance of the story.
This parable will teach us about how different people receive the Gospel.
Why do some people receive the Word of God with joy and others find it to be foolishness?
Why am I saved and my neighbor is not?
This parable will help us understand this.
Parables can be easily misunderstood.
People are tempted to read a lot of stuff into parables that were probably never intended.
Thankfully we can’t misunderstand the one we will read today...
I am a highly trained professional.
Really it is because Jesus tells us exactly what it means.
What we have to do is study it enough to really learn it, and then really apply it.
To be honest, we have gotten so complacent that many of us are willing to listen to a sermon,
we have no intention of letting it affect our lives in any tangible way.
Please realize how ridiculous and insulting it is to God to say,...
“I’ll do you the courtesy of hearing you out, but I don’t expect I’ll actually change anything.”
That cannot be the posture of a disciple.
So, let’s wake up, listen up, and expect to hear from the Lord through His Word.
The first three verses of Luke, chapter 8, come before the parable, but we need to give them a quick look.
Luke 8:1–3 ESV
1 Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.
Neither Jesus, nor Luke was concerned with our modern sensibilities.
Luke did not add this information about the women who followed Jesus because it was politically correct.
As a matter of fact, Jesus was the only Rabbi that allowed women followers.
Luke thought it was important that we see this peculiarity
that we know their names.
What was the profession of Mary Magdalene before she met Jesus?
We don’t know.
The Bible does not say.
I have heard various times that she was a prostitute, but that was first said by a Pope in 591 and it is not in the Bible.
The Bible does say that she was plagued by demons, and that the Lord delivered her.
She was a wonderful woman who ministered to the Lord and to the apostles,
was at the foot of the cross during Jesus’ crucifixion,
was among the women that were told by an angel of the resurrection of Jesus.
All four Gospels tell us that she was the first to share the news of the resurrection.
Joanna stayed with Jesus as well.
Luke 24:10 ESV
10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles,
These women were faithful disciples of Christ.
Susanna was only mentioned here so we don’t know her backstory...
Luke thought she was worth mentioning by name, so she too had been blessed by the ministry of Jesus, and she, along with these other women, were financially supporting His work.
Okay, let’s jump into this really important parable.
Luke 8:4–15 ESV
4 And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

The Sower

Jesus explains what the seed is - the Word of God.
He explains a lot about the soils.
But what about the sower?
The sower is the one who shares the Word of God...
the one who shares the gospel.
I want us to notice who we are to share the gospel with...
We aren’t called to be soil inspectors, but to be sowers of the Word.
We are to be like this sower and sow the seed indiscriminately and liberally.
Now, here is the part where many of us, probably most of us, will say...
“nah, not gonna do it.”
at which point we really desperately need reminded of
Luke 6:46 ESV
46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
Why do people not sow the Word?
Fear of rejection.
We just have to get over that one.
Luke 10:16 ESV
16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
So, in this verse we have you, Jesus, and God the Father.
You are the least of these.
They may reject you, but you surely will be in good company!! - Won’t you?
2. Fear that you will mess it up.
It is not the skill of the sower that is the variable in this scenario.
You should become adept at sharing your faith
If you truly are saved then you know how you were saved.
Repentance - unconditional surrender
Faith - Jesus in your place.
Sow the Word.
Share the gospel liberally with anyone that will listen.
Now let’s look at...

The Seed

Remember, the seed is the Word of God.
Just like the skill of the sower is not the variable here concerning the reception of the gospel...
neither is the seed the variable.
The seed just needs to be sewed, sewn… I don’t know - cast out there.
I know that the popular thing for preachers to do these days is to read a Scripture or two,
then spend the rest of the time walking around telling stories that have little or nothing to do with the actual meaning and application of the Scripture.
… and you are supposed to be impressed that they don’t need notes.
I am afraid not a lot of seed gets sown that way.
I might make a half-way decent motivational speaker - I don’t know, and don’t really care
instead of trying to talk you into better behavior...
I want to help you get to know Jesus better
He can, and will, bring radical transformation to your life!
That is more valuable and lasting than anything else I could say.
The seed, the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus, is perfect just like it is.
Now the thing that is the variable in this equation is the condition of the soil.
Let’s examine...

The First Soil

The first soil was that which landed along the path.
In order to get through these fields or even in among several fields together, there would be well-worn paths.
The soil here had been packed down through years of foot and animal traffic.
This soil was very hard, and the seed had no chance to penetrate it.
The odds are pretty good that if you have this kind of heart, you are probably not here this morning,
If you are sharing the gospel, as every Christian is called to do, you will encounter people with this kind of heart.
When you share the gospel and someone rejects your message...
It is not the fault of the sower or the seed.
Now, of course, if you come off as a judgmental jerk when you speak to someone they probably aren’t going to listen...
If you present the truth in love, and they reject it - you have done your job.
All you can do, and all you are called to do, is sow the seed.
The preparation of the soil - the plowing of the soil, so to speak, is the purview of the Holy Spirit.
So, does that mean if you find that hard ground you are supposed to give up?
Not necessarily.
If this is someone you will have a continuing influence on, then pray for the Holy Spirit to change and soften that soil...
He can do that.

The Second Soil

The second soil is the superficial heart.
Luke 8:13 ESV
13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.
When you share the gospel with this person they seem receptive, maybe even eager to hear the message.
What does it mean that “they believe for a while”?
Don’t we believe that once someone is saved, they stay saved?
Don’t we, as baptists, believe in the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints?
Yes, we do, but not because we are Baptists, but because the doctrine is biblical.
Look with me at...
John 8:31 ESV
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
To “abide” means to stay, remain, reside - this is speaking of permanence.
The same thing is taught in...
1 John 2:19 ESV
19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
They would have continued...
These are second soil people, who believe for a while, but then in a time of testing, fall away.
They weren’t the real deal - they seemed to be for a while - but turns out they were not.
To be candid, there are a lot of folks in our SBC churches that absolutely do not get this.
They think that anyone who showed an interest, prayed a prayer, may have even been baptized, is signed, sealed, and delivered, even if they subsequently have nothing to do with God, His Word, or His Bride.
The problem is, that is the opposite of what the Bible is teaching here.
1 John 2:19 ESV
19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
If you persist in thinking that your friend or relative that has left the church is saved, you are not arguing with me...
You are arguing with Jesus and the Apostle John.
I do not say that to distress you, but to motivate you to tell them the truth.
Take them the gospel like their soul depends on it, because it does.
I know that you know this,
I am always willing and available to help, if you think you need me.
We are talking about how trouble drives away the shallow, superficial, temporary church attender.
What about the true disciple of Christ?
How does he or she respond?
We see how in James and other places, but look at the beginning of James.
James 1:2–4 ESV
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Trials produce steadfastness in the believer.
Here is another verse that shows what happens to the believer under pressure.
1 Peter 5:10 ESV
10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
It is quite a contrast to the response of the unbeliever.
In the unbeliever, trials cause them to say,...
“I quit.”
“I’m out of here.”
“This Christianity stuff did not live up to the hype.”
There is probably not a lot of this kind of people here either, because these folks don’t hang around...
But we are about to get to the soil that makes up, I believe, a large number of church goers...

The Third Soil

Luke 8:14 ESV
14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
The soil here looks to be okay, good even.
It is not hard like that along the path.
It is not rocky and shallow like the previous one we saw.
This soil looks good, but it has competitors to the seed that was sown.
Let’s look at those competitors.
cares of the world
pleasures of life
What distracts you from what you are supposed to be doing for the kingdom?
Is this parable helping you understand how spiritually deadly these competitors are?
If you are like most church-goers, the answer is “no”, you do not understand.
Let me ask you some questions to help you see the problem.
Do you go to work, or the store, or the beauty parlor just fine Mon-Sat., but miss worship fairly often because you can’t make it to church on Sun.?
Do you refuse to join a small group because it is new to you?
Do you consider witnessing to be optional or not your job?
Do you contribute financially to the church...
only after you have enough riches in savings
or only after you have whatever pleasures of life you happen to desire at the moment?
Don’t get mad at me - do a self-checkup.
If all is well, PTL.
If not, deal with it, rather than hide from it.
Am I saying you are to show up at church every time we gather unless genuinely providentially hindered?
Because God says don’t forsake assembling and He is the boss.
Am I saying if you do not join a small group after the pandemic is over that you are lost?
No. - But I am saying that if you have a problem that keeps you out, we can probably help you with it.
You do need to be in fellowship with other believers
They need you.
Am I saying that if you don’t share the gospel with x many people/month you are lost?
No. - But I am saying that we have to do what Jesus tells us to do if we are indeed his disciples.
That is what the Word says...
so it is what we have to come to terms with.
Am I saying that you have to live like a monk and give all your money to the church?
No. - I am saying that...
Matthew 6:21 ESV
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
To sum up the point that I am making let’s look at how Jesus said it in
Matthew 6:33 ESV
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
It is okay for us to enjoy nice things, but seek his kingdom first, not with your leftovers.
Are you watering the thorns in your heart, or are you watering the seed of the Word and the Gospel?
If you give first place to sin and wordly desire it will grow and choke out the Word and the Gospel.
If you seek God’s kingdom first, it will slowly, but surely choke out the sin and selfishness in your life.
This is not about rules.
Rules are great for children, but adults need to think beyond rules.
We need to be guided by principles.
So, do a self-examination and see what you are seeking first in your life.
Are you watering the weeds of sin and selfishness, or are you seeking God and the things of God first?
If you will dare to take time to ask the question, God will help you figure it out.
(I’ve heard of pastors stepping on toes - this sermon may have been more like the front kick to the face at the end of the Karate Kid
I don’t do that to be unkind
I do it because when Jesus says hard stuff like this, I have to say hard stuff
Then we all have to go check ourselves to see where we stand.)
Let’s look briefly at the...

Fourth Soil

Luke 8:15 ESV
15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
This person is not double-minded.
They aren’t trying to pick between weeds and seed.
They have chosen the seed of the Word of God and they are bearing fruit.
Luke 8:8 ESV
8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

What do we do?

I. Inspect your own soil.
If not the fourth soil - pray for the Spirit to plow the ground of your heart.
Pray for Him to kill those weeds!
Then, if you really mean it, I have some awesome news for you.
I can give you the formula for Miracle Grow for the seeds and weed killer for the weeds all in one...
1.Bible reading, study, and memorization
2. Faithful church attendance
3. Surrounding yourself with the fellowship of Christian brothers and sisters - like in a small group
Re-prioritize - Seek God and His kingdom first.
(but that might mean actual change - Yes, yes it might.)
II. Sow seed. - liberally!
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