T HIS PARABLE is so familiar we think we know all about it. In our mind, we see this parable primarily about how folks respond to first contact with Jesus and His word. But it clearly speaks to everyone in regular contact with Jesus as well.
Before we continue our look at this parable, let’s spend a minute to focus on what a parable is. A parable is a story drawn from experience or nature that leaves us in sufficient doubt about its precise application. That means we must think about it, ponder it, interpret it for ourselves.
In most cases, Jesus does not interpret these engaging stories. Listeners have the responsibility to listen, interpret and to act. What a parable says and does is largely determined by you.
The very purpose of parables is for each one of us to hear and to take responsibility for our own faith.
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WE’VE READ the parable again. The seed falls on three areas that keep it from bearing fruit: a path, which we addressed last week, rocky ground, and thorns.
Some seed also falls on good soil and yields a good harvest. Now you have to consider what this says to you.
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IN LUKE, Jesus helps us out by revealing, “The seed is the word of God.” OK. Good. A clue. The Word of God is spread, like seed over a variety of soils.
How is it spread? By reading the Bible, not just someone else’s interpretation of the Bible. By listening to an audio Bible. By prayer following reading. By attending worship or Sunday school. Through your conversations with others.
I’m sure there are other Word-sowing methods. How is the Word of God spread to your life?
Every time the word of God is read, proclaimed, or shared; this parable happens. Every day seed is sown and our hearts receive or reject the word of God.
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A FARMER WENT OUT to sow the Word of God. The Word falls on rocky ground.
What does that mean for you? Is there rocky soil in your heart?
Jesus helps us out with this parable. In Luke, the seeds sprout but die for lack of moisture. Another clue.
I think about outdoor potted plants. Outdoor potted plants dry out much more quickly than flowers planted in the yard. Soil in pots dries more rapidly because of heat and wind. Water seems to run right through the pot.
What in your life, in your circumstances, causes God’s word to wither instead of taking root? You and you alone have to wrestle with that question.
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MARK GIVES another clue — the word of God can’t penetrate the rocky soil to establish roots. Then trouble comes, hard times come, and we fade in faith. Does this address the shallowness of your religious character?
Listen to the way this reads in the King James Version. They “have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.”
Is there something said or done that offends you and prevents you from rooting God’s Word?
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THE GREAT 19th century British pastor Charles Spurgeon addressed the shallowness of faith roots. Having no root in themselves, people are dependent on the faith of others.
Perhaps a parent who is the sole nurturer of their faith. The parent dies; the child moves out. Perhaps being dependent on associating with other Christians.
While this is good and needful and important, if we find ourselves in situations where that’s not possible, can our faith survive?
Or faith dependent on a particular leader. Over and over in the Old Testament, the Hebrew people fell in line behind judges but when the judge died, they went their own way. Their shallow faith died with their spiritual leader.
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MAYBE YOUR FAITH is dependent on “enthusiastic surroundings.”
Spurgeon says, “They seem to have been baptized in boiling water; and unless the temperature around them is kept up to that point, they wither away.” Faith born and sustained by mere excitement will die when the excitement is over.” https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/no-root-in-themselves/#flipbook/
Hear and think about what Charles Spurgeon says.
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A FEW OTHER THINGS to consider:
■ If you are among those who “only believe for a while,” are you destined to shriveled faith?
■ What efforts must you make to grow deep roots?
Maybe you need to look at the rocks and boulders that hinder your maturing faith. With the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit, those obstacles can be removed allowing for moisture and penetration of roots in your spiritual life.
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JESUS WRAPS UP his parable by calling people to “hear it.”
Hear, discern, act.