devotion 1-8-15

Good Morning!Enjoying this cooler morning – for those of you outside the Keys it is 60 here on Big Pine this morning, expected to warm up to 72. Of course, this cool spell is not supposed to last long. So sorry that many of you are where it is really, really cold today!

Luke 8.4-15

4When a great crowd gathered 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 on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. 7Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. 8Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” 9Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’ 11“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12The ones on 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. 13The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. 14As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones 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. 15But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.

As Luke told us in the transitional passage we looked at yesterday, he is now talking about Jesus going from town to town teaching about the Kingdom of God. This parable is his first example of that teaching. The people are coming out in great crowds from the towns to hear Jesus teach – he uses a story that the people can relate to, that of a farmer sowing seeds. Everyone knows about sowing seeds!

If you or I were to plant a garden, we would start by renting a tiller and tilling up the ground, maybe even having a load of good topsoil brought in. But in Jesus’ day, they did not have tillers and such. The farmer would have plowed up the field with a team of oxen and a plow. But then he would take the seed in a basket, or a bag he carried around his waist, and he would scatter the seed by hand, broadcasting it over the general area where he had plowed. Some of the seed fell on the rocky places – we in the Keys know what those look like – there are places in my path where I have nice smooth rocks to walk on, but nothing would grow there, and places where there is shallow soil just over the rocks. Seeds may sprout there, but they do not take root. They shrivel and die. Some seeds fall on the hard packed earth of the path where they are walked on, and then are eaten by the birds, as they would be here. This is like trying to get grass to grow where people pull onto it to park. Some seeds fell into the briars and thorns, and as they tried to grow, they were choked out. But even with all this loss, some seeds fell on good soil – and that seed grew and produced a crop, a hundred times what the farmer had sown.

The disciples did not understand – why are you talking about farming? What does this parable mean? Like them, we can sometimes misunderstand, and like them, we ask questions.

And Jesus explained the parable: the farmer and the seed are the kingdom of God. When Jesus speaks to the people he is sowing the seed – later they will sow the seed; today we must sow the seed of the Kingdom. But we do not control where the seed lands – Jesus says that even he did not control where the seed landed. The soil had been prepared by John the Baptist, but still, some hearts were hard, like the hard packed path, and they do not receive the Kingdom – what they hear shrivels in their cynicism. Some receive the Kingdom, and it begins to grow, but their roots are not strong – theirs is the sort of faith that is shallow and quickly shrivels in the face of adversity. Some hearts are open and the Kingdom grows, but they succumb to the worries and stress of the present day and the Kingdom is choked out by those thorns of worry and stress. But some of our seed, like that Jesus sows, falls in good soil, and grows, and the Kingdom is like that – from one seed that falls on good soil, it grows into a hundred. Praise God for those who take the seed into warm and loving hearts, and grow in their faith, and spread the Kingdom of God!

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