Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1
January 11, 2009
4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:
5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.
8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?
10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
1901 ASV Translation:
4 And when a great multitude came together, and they of every city resorted unto him, he spake by a parable:
5 The sower went forth to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden under foot, and the birds of the heaven devoured it.
6 And other fell on the rock; and as soon as it grew, it withered away, because it had no moisture.
7 And other fell amidst the thorns; and the thorns grew with it, and choked it.
8 And other fell into the good ground, and grew, and brought forth fruit a hundredfold. As he said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
9 And his disciples asked him what this parable might be.
10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to the rest in parables; that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.
11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 And those by the way side are they that have heard; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved.
13 And those on the rock are they who, when they have heard, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
14 And that which fell among the thorns, these are they that have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
15 And that in the good ground, these are such as in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, hold it fast, and bring forth fruit with patience.
- I. The "Intention" of "Parables".
- A. When the disciples raised the issue of the meaning of this parable, Jesus deliberately made a distinction between "them" and "the rest".
- B. When Jesus answered the disciples, He referred to the principle of Isaiah 6:9-10.
- 1. In that context, the nation is heavily into apostasy.
- 2. In that context it is indisputable that Isaiah's "commission" was one of judgment.
- a. From the beginning, Isaiah understood that his was to be a ministry of judgment, not significant revival.
- b. The issue was God's hostility toward the nation for a persistent, generational, stiff-necked rebellion and a refusal to hear the words of God unto voluntary obedience.
- 3. It is pretty difficult to "understand" Jesus' reference to that context without the parallel realities in His own context.
- a. The facts are indisputable: first century Judaism was arrogant and brash and just as wicked as it was in the days of Isaiah. The "appearance" of massive interest in both John and Jesus was mostly smoke and little fire. It is true that the people were flocking to Jesus by the thousands, but it is also true that the reason was "healing and exorcism" in an almost indiscriminate form. This is not a good basis for "salvation". It smacks of too much interest in the physical world and its pleasures and too little interest in the Kingdom of God and His agenda.
- b. That Jesus was crucified in that generation is sufficient proof of the almost total lack of "understanding". Even Jesus' declaration that the parable was "unto the revelation of the mysteries of the Kingdom" to His disciples is confronted by the necessity that He "explain" it to them or they would not have understood it either. The hardness of heart was profound and pervasive even among the disciples (Mark 8:17 and 9:19).
- 4. At the same time, it is necessary to the context that we understand that Jesus used the parable as a most fundamental presentation of the reality of mankind's response to the words of God. This chapter is all about Jesus preparing His disciples to execute the "ministry" of the word. The parable takes up a large portion of the text given over to that preparation.
- a. We must remember the fact that there was a Judas Iscariot in this group and that he was "trained" and "sent out" along with the others.
- b. Thus, genuine understanding only really settles in according to the principle of Matthew 16:17: whether in parable or in plain speech, fallen man only comes to an appreciable grasp of the Truth by the action of the Father.
- 1) This tends to weaken our perception of any kind of rationale for the use of parables (what difference does it make whether Jesus speaks plainly or in parables if real understanding is only by special action by the Father?).
- 2) That Jesus removed "understanding" one step further from men by resorting to parables is, however, indicative of His intention to keep the Truth from those who have no godly use for it. Matthew 7:6 says that it is not only useless to tell dogs and pigs the Truth (useless in the sense of any expectation that it will help them or change them for the better), it is dangerous.
- II. The Significance of Luke's "Setting".
- A. He tells us that "a great crowd assembling" and "those traveling to Him according to city"...
- 1. This is Luke's "Greek" way of telling us that he sees the present situation as a massive group of travelers from numerous cities who have assembled around Jesus. He puts the scenario in the present tense to attempt to get his reader(s) to mentally picture the reality. This seems to be a major element in the issue of whether the words of God will actually make any difference in a person's life. As long as Truth is treated like "so much information" (i.e., it is simply given a cursory hearing in the flow of life), it does not make any impact. It is only as a "Truth" snags one's attention, and snatches one's mind back to Itself over and over, that any kind of change occurs (this is the very essence of "nagging" and is the reason Nags nag). However, as every nag knows, it does not always work. This is also, by the way, the reason for bold, italic, and underlined text in written communications.
- 2. The point Luke makes by this setting is the point of the parable: though multitudes are willing to seek Jesus out, most of the individuals are there for ulterior reasons, not godly ones.
- B. He tells us that Jesus "said (to them) through a parable".
- 1. His "said" indicates the communication of doctrine.
- 2. His "through a parable" indicates an inclination to be misunderstood. This is a judgment from God. In John 10:24 there is a sense of exasperation in the "Jews" because Jesus has given heed to His own advice regarding "casting your pearls before swine", and in John 11:14 Jesus clears away the misunderstanding of His previous words regarding Lazarus. Then, in John 16:29-31 Jesus challenges His disciples' claim that, because He has "spoken plainly and in no dark saying", they "believe".