GOD BRINGS THE GROWTH
Lord, we labor by faith.
Read LUKE 8:1–15
The Parable of the Sower
8 After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,
“‘though seeing, they may not see;
though hearing, they may not understand.’[a]
11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
a Luke 8:10 Isaiah 6:9
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Tho’ sown in tears thro’ weary years, / the seed will surely live; / tho’ great the cost, it is not lost, for God will fruitage give” (Jessie Brown Pounds, 1861–1921).
I remember a pastor being shocked that so many young people he had baptized had fallen away. There was a sense of failure in his voice; a fear, perhaps, that he had not taught or supported them well enough.
Jesus’ parable of the sower can be taken as a preparatory talk to the disciples about just such disappointment. Of all the seed sown, only a fraction flourishes. Some fail to grow at all; and some start to grow but soon peter out. This is not a glamorous view of evangelism: it suggests effort but with discouragement and difficulty. Many will show no interest in the Gospel message at all, and many of those who do respond will not keep on following Christ. Jesus is preparing his disciples for the reality of evangelism. It is not easy. Indeed, Jesus has experienced this himself: not everybody responds positively to his preaching and many of those who initially accept his message later turn away (John 6:66).
It’s human nature to want instant results, and we customarily measure success by numbers. Therefore, this teaching may seem disappointing. However, Jesus’ story also makes it clear that the Gospel is no ordinary message, for the seed that does grow flourishes beyond all expectation and goes on to produce “a crop, a hundred times more than was sown” (8). That is as much as ﬁfteen times more than what would normally be expected (John Nolland, Luke 1:1—9:20, 371). This reminds us that God is at work in our evangelistic toils. Results do not necessarily stem from us and how good we are at explaining the Christian message, or how attractive our witness may be. So, don’t get disheartened if attempts to reach out with the Gospel produce disappointing results. We have a God who can bring incredible growth from the tiniest of beginnings.
Are you discouraged or frustrated in your evangelistic efforts? How does it encourage you to recognize that, although you sow the seed, God brings the growth?
Lord, I know that we must do the planting and watering in Your vineyard but that You give the increase.