John T. Willis

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Jesus' Parable of the Soils--Luke 8:1-15

Luke states that the events related in Luke 8:1-15 occurred "soon afterwards" the story of Jesus' conversation with Simon the Pharisee and the sinful woman reported in Luke 7:36-50 (see Luke 8:1a). This paragraph falls into four sections.

I. Jesus went through unnamed cities and villages accompanied by "the twelve" and several women. Luke 8:1-3.
a. Luke does not name the cities and villages mentioned here, but these must have been in Galilee because of the connections with Luke 4:44; 5:12. As Jesus went from place to place, he proclaimed and brought good news of the kingdom of God. 8:1a-b.
b. The twelve accompanied Jesus. Also several women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities accompanied Jesus. Luke specifically names Mary called Magdalene [foreshadowing Luke 23:39; 24:10 where she becomes a witness to the crucifixion and the empty tomb] from whom seven demons had gone out, implying the severity of her demon possession; Joanna the wife of Herod's steward Chuza [this is Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee, Luke 3:1, indicating Jesus preached and had great influence in high places, and foreshadowing the question of Herod Antipas in Luke 9:7-9]; Susanna; and many other women who provided for them [Jesus and the Twelve] out of their resources. 8:1c-3.
c. In this paragraph, Luke is carefully emphasizing to all readers that many women were closely connected with Jesus as Jesus travelled from place to place just as the Twelve did. Jesus surrounded himself by BOTH men and women. Women play as important a role in Jesus' ministry as men. This is an inescapable truth in the Bible that God through Jesus Christ desires to have women teach, preach, shepherd, support, and encourage all of God's people. This is a consistent truth found both in the Old and New Testaments.

II. Jesus proclaims his parable of the soils. Luke 8:4-8.
a. As Jesus was going from town to town, over time "a great crowd" gathered and came to Jesus, and then Jesus told a parable. 8:4.
b. Many people call this parable the parable of the sower. Others call this the parable of the sowed seed. But a careful examination of this text shows that this is the parable of the soils. 8:5-8a.
1. First, Jesus paints the picture of a sower going out to sow his seed. 8:5a.
The normal practice of sowing seed was to cast the seed over an unplowed field. After this, the farmer plowed the soil and waited in prayer for rain and growth.
2. As the sower sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled on before the farmer plowed the soil, and the birds ate it up. 8:5b-c.
3. Some seed fell on the rock, and as the seed grew up, it withered from lack of moisture. 8:6.
4. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. 8:7
5. Some seed fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold. 8:8a.
c. When Jesus described this parable, he said to the crowd: "Let anyone with ears to hear listen!: 8:8b.

III. Jesus explained the meaning of parables to his disciples. Luke 8:9-10.
a. When Jesus described the parable of the soils, his disciples [the context here shows that the disciples intended here are the Twelve and the women traveling with Jesus] asked him what this parable meant. 8:9.
b. Jesus tells his disciples [the Twelve and the women accompanying him] that God has given them the secrets of the kingdom of God, but Jesus spoke in parables to prevent the crowds from knowing the meaning of his parables. Parables are illustrations drawn from everyday Palestinian life. 8:10.

IV. Jesus now explained to his disciples [the Twelve and the women traveling with him] clearly the meaning of this parable. 8:11-15.
a. First, Jesus clearly states that the seed is the word of God. The word of God is God's oral message to faithful messengers to various audiences. 8:11.
b. Jesus clearly states that the soils represent four different types of HEARTS. The whole point of the parable of the soils is about the human heart.
1. One person's heart is like an individual who has heard the word of God, ando the devil comes and takes away the word of God from his or her heart so that he or she may not believe and be saved. The devil is a REAL person invisible to human beings. The devil is very powerful and attempts to persuade a human being's heart to reject God's message of mercy and hope and salvation. 8:12.
2. Another person's heart is like an individual who hears and receives the word of God "with joy." That individual believes in God "for a while," but he or she falls away from God "in a time of testing." Many people initially become very enthusiastic about receiving God through his divine message. People like this are quick to condemn others who do not seem to have that GREAT ENTHUSIASM. In my liftime, I have watched several so-called committed Christian movements determined to CHANGE THE WORLD. But when they were confronted with REAL LIFE, it was not long into they divided, fell into the darkness, and totally lost their so-called enthusiasm. Real Christianity is a daily commitment during times of THICK AND THIN. Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke I-IX, The Anchor Bible 28, page
714, writes aptly: "he [Jesus] has little tolerance for enthusiasts or fadists who espouse a cause as long as it suits their pleasure." 8:13.
3. A third type of person's heart is like an individual who hears and receives the word of God, but becomes concerned with (1) the cares of life: anxieties, fears, problems, the works; (2) riches: spending time and effort to make money in anticipation of fame and retirement; greed; covetousness; (3) the pleasures of life: smoking, drinking, sex, all types of fleshly indulgences; and thus his or her fruit never matures. One cannot serve God and money or anything else. 8:14.
4. Thankfully, the heart of some people is like an individual who hears the word of God, HOLDS IT FAST in AN HONEST AND GOOD HEART by prayer and meditation and persistent service and worship and the like, and bears fruit with PATIENT ENDURANCE. 8:15.

What a POWERFUL PARABLE with deep, lasting truth. One should spend much time mulling over this parable and its daily significance.

Share YOUR anxieties and concerns and thoughts and insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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