When I was young in my faith I would get greatly frustrated when Jesus would teach in parables. I remember being a teenager trying to figure one of them out and wanting to yell at my Bible “Just say what you mean!” Now that I’m older and a little wiser, I enjoy the parables a lot more. Often times, the examples used by Jesus in these stories paint a vivid picture, giving you visuals to help illustrate whatever point it was he was making.
In Luke chapter 8, Jesus delivers what is referred to as the “parable of the sower” and it stands two thousand years later as an important concept for believers to understand. This is directly tied to our mission here on Earth, which is to spread the good news of Jesus to as many people as possible. Let’s read it real quick.
Luke 8:4-8 One day Jesus told a story in the form of a parable to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him: 5 “A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. 6 Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. 8 Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had said this, he called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
Jesus explains this parable shortly after giving it, but before we even get there I want to look at something. Look at verse 6. “Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture.” I wanted to look at this idea of rocky soil from a very practical standpoint. According to Jesus, the thing that caused the plants in rocky soil to die was a lack of moisture. Remember that as we listen to Jesus explain the parable to his disciples and then we’ll look at rocky soil gardening techniques.
Luke 8:11-15 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. 12 The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. 15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.
Again, let’s focus on the rocky soil. “The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation.” Okay, so now we see the full picture. But there’s no mention of moisture this time. The cause of the rocky soil plants falling away here is a lack of deep roots. Now, plants absorb moisture through their roots, so in a sense Jesus is still talking about a lack of moisture here. The rocky soil plants don’t develop deep enough roots to take on enough moisture, so when they face temptations they fall away.
I’ve learned enough in my time discipling people to know that there’s a very dangerous period that hits for someone when they first dedicate their life to God or when they first start coming to church. It’s almost like someone starting to get on track with God sets off alarm bells in hell and the enemy launches an attack on that person before they’re able to get fully established in the faith. Before their roots can grow deep enough.
The reason that this part of the parable felt so important to me is that I see things that we as more mature believers can do to help these “rocky soil” people. Firstly, we need to make them aware of the importance of developing deep roots. This is done both practically (by making connections in the church and with other believers) and spiritually (by studying the Bible and praying). They need to know that by joining up with God, they put themselves in the enemy’s cross-hairs. Not to scare them, but to prepare them.
But here’s something else that occurred to me. If a plant is struggling to grow and get water, what can I do about it? I can water it. Until it’s got deep enough roots, I need to do whatever I can to keep that plant alive. This means recognizing those believers who are still developing and doing all that is possible to assist them. Quality teaching, encouragement, invitations to Bible studies and worship nights, anything you can do to keep the moisture of God in their lives. And if we see rocks in the soil that might be preventing them from developing deeper roots, shouldn’t we be helping them identify and pick up those rocks? When I rededicated myself to the faith there were things in my life that I didn’t even realize were wrong. I look back now and can’t believe I was still allowing certain elements into my life while also trying to follow Jesus. Back then it didn’t occur to me that they were “rocks” that might be causing me to stumble or keeping my roots in the faith from growing deeper.
There is nothing more beautiful than a person dedicating themselves to Jesus. The heavens rejoice over it.
Luke 15:10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
But equally, there are few things more hurtful and heartbreaking than seeing someone who attempted to follow Jesus falling away from the faith. I’ve dedicated my life to doing whatever I can to stop that from happening. I know there’s personal responsibility represented in the parable of the sower, I know the plants have to do their part to deepen the roots and clean up the soil. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a responsibility on the more mature believers around that person to work with all of our strength to help that person. It should be one of the primary aspects of our lives to do so.
That is it for this week on the Bible blog. I love all of you very much. I am currently a few hundred miles away from home on a work trip. I’ll be enjoying the rest of the weekend out of town having some fun and learning some great work related skills, so I hope all of you also have a great weekend. God’s so incredibly good to us and He does not ever leave those behind who truly seek Him.
If there’s anything you need prayer for, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to pray for you.