Jesus Loved to Tell Stories
Jesus was a master storyteller. His insistence of using parables instead of just teaching has given preachers fodder for their sermons for two millennium. Oftentimes you can hear the same parable preached with differing action points pulled out. Parables allow for this because they leave the moral open for discussion. However there are some parables that get the same action points preached so often that we may miss what else Jesus was trying to communicate.
I believe this has happened with the parable of the sower (Luke 8:1-15). This most often is taught that the seed is the gospel and there are four ways people respond to it. I don’t want to negate this approach, but allow for me to pull out another interpretation that I believe will encourage your personal prayer life.
The Seed is the Word of God
The seed is the word of God. This phrase includes the gospel being preached, but it also includes the Bible. And, it includes anytime God wants to communicate to us. This communication is how I want to read this passage today.
There are four ways we can respond to God speaking to us. God may send us inspiration in our times of prayer or just in the midst of our day, and we doubt it is from God where the enemy steals the word from us. Other times we hear from God, and while we initially are encouraged, we don’t follow through with the word and lose it. Still another time the word is pressed out of us because life tells us another story. Finally we have the good soil that allows God’s word to transform our lives.
The Good Soil Needs to be Maintained
Each of these ways can be demonstrated by us. For one word we hear from God we may respond perfectly with good soil, but at another time we may hear something not as easy to accept and we are the rocky soil.
One word may travel through each of these soils. For example, my wife and I believe we heard the word of the Lord to move to Asia to provide a family for orphan girls as they leave the orphanage system (see more). To many this word landed on good soil as we left all we knew in America and moved our family to Asia. However the cares of providing financially for our family has at times threatened to strangle the word. There has been a time of testing where locals questioned the possibility of the government to allow for this. And, the enemy has tried to steal the word by creating doubts. Since we have heard this word, we have had to actively maintain good soil.
What is the Lamp on the Stand?
Jesus follows this parable with the parable of the lamp on a stand. Again we often teach this as an exhortation to live our lives in such a way that people would see Jesus in us. This is a good interpretation, but in light of Luke 8, I propose that it also explains the word of God.
“There is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed” (Luke 8:17). Jesus is telling us that it is the nature of God to reveal things. He is the one putting things on the table. He is revealing things He wants us to know. Jesus highlights this by telling us to be careful how we listen (Luke 8:18). God wants to share His secrets with us. The question is: will we listen and will it fall on good soil? If we do this, more will be given us.
Who Are His Mother and Brothers?
Jesus continues to expand on this concept talking about those who are truly His mother and brothers. He said, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice” (Luke 8:21). Are you starting to see a trend in this chapter?
Putting God’s Word Into Practice
The rest of the chapter reveals several miracles Jesus did. In the first example, Jesus calms the storm. After the sea became calm, he rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith. Why is this? Should they have not been scared? What should they have done?
We know that Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing (John 5:19). I believe that the disciples should have been listening to the word of God. If they had heard it, and put it into practice, maybe they would have been the ones calming the sea.
I believe each of these examples in the rest of the chapter were revealing more to the disciples about hearing the word of God. I will give one more example. When Jesus reached the home of the synagogue leader, people were all saying that this girl was dead. Jesus introduced a new word, “she is not dead but asleep” (Luke 8:52). He heard the word of God, put it into practice by speaking it in faith, and then He commanded the girl to rise.
Now It’s Our Turn
The last half of this chapter is awe inspiring. We are left glorifying God and admiring Jesus. However, God designed this chapter to lead us to also listen for the word of God and, as Jesus showed us, put them into practice. Do you doubt this? How does chapter 9 start? Jesus sends out the twelve to do the same things they just saw (Luke 9:1-9).
Therefore if we want this same power in our prayers, then we must do what we can to prepare the good soil in our lives. The first is making time to listen for the word of God being spoken in our circumstances. The second is to put that word into practice. The more we do this, the more God will speak to us (Luke 8:18).