March 25, 2018

The Parable of the Sower and the Soils

Passage: Luke 8:4-15

Jesus pictures a farmer going out into his fields to scatter seed. He sows the seed over various different qualities of soil, and the different kinds of soil produce different results.

.4  Luke calls this little story a “parable.” A parable is a short story or wise saying that makes a spiritual point. Parables generally make one main point. So  want to import theological meaning into every single detail; we want to grasp the main point of the story.

The parable of the sower and the soils is unusual in that it makes several points. The main point is that people respond to the Gospel in different ways, with the majority response being rejection. The parable also shows that some of those who seem to respond positively to the Gospel may not be genuine converts. And the parable teaches that only those who produce good fruit have the right to think of themselves as real Christians.

Parables are quite easy to misunderstand and misapply. They are analogies or comparisons, so they don’t teach directly; they teach by way of illustration. We have to be careful when interpreting parables. Fortunately, in this case, Jesus interprets the parable for us. So we know exactly what the parable means.

Why did Jesus often speak in parables? Vs. 10 tells us that Jesus spoke in parables “that seeing they might not see and hearing they might not understand.” That seems very odd, that Jesus would not want his hearers to understand. But that seems to be right. Parables both reveal and conceal truth. To those who reject Jesus and the Gospel, the parables conceal truth. Speaking in parables was a form of judgment on unbelievers. But to those who seek truth and accept Jesus, the parables reveal truth.

As one writer put it, openness of heart results in greater perception and insight into God’s truth. The one who has spiritual insight is given more and the one who is spiritually dull becomes even less sensitive.[1]

Those who fail to respond to God’s Word will find that they are not only under judgment for rejecting what they have heard but also that they are unable to understand further truth.[2]

This parable both reveals truth to some and conceals it from others. Let’s make sure that we have open hearts so we can receive the truth that the parable is conveying.

[1] Stanley D. Toussaint, “The Introductory and Concluding Parables of Matthew Thirteen,” Bibliotheca Sacra 121 (1964): 354.

[2] Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor's Bible Commentary – Volume 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 906.

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