A Sower, Seeds, And Ground
Whether it’s a hostile crowd or an angry individual, the best method to use is a good story. Hit an angry person with the bare facts, and the response will be fists, plots against you, and even death. A good story, on the other hand, ducks the punch and lures even the hostile listener to ask questions, slow down, and try to solve the puzzle in the story. All of us like a good story, and Jesus knew how to tell one.
So far in Luke Jesus has given sight to the blind, legs to the lame, and even life to the dead. But the issue that generated the most passionate response from the crowds that gathered was that He claimed He had the power to forgive sins.
His first century audience took this far more seriously than audiences today who often believe that a confession to Oprah on national TV or a pronouncement from the Pope is sufficient to remove guilt. In fact, God is the One we have to worry about when it comes to sin, and He is the only One who can forgive us and make it stick. Jesus’ first century Jewish audience understood this, and this is why when He said again and again, “Your sins are forgiven,” some in His audience, especially legal religious folks got mad. Jesus, fully aware of the growing anger against Him, responded by telling stories—parables. Luke sets the scene and then lets us listen to one of Jesus’ most penetrating stories.
“Now when a large crowd was gathering, having journeying from one town after the other to hear Jesus, He told them this story. ‘A sower went out to sow his seed. In the process of sowing some of the seed fell beside the path. It was trampled and the birds of the heaven devoured it. Other seed fell on the rock. After coming up, it withered because it didn’t have any moisture. Other fell in the midst of thorns. When it grew up, the thorns choked it out. Now other seed fell on good ground. It grew up, and produced fruit—a hundred times.’
While He was saying these things, He shouted out, ‘The one who has ears to ear, let him hear!’” - Luke 8:4-8
Now I know that many of you have heard countless sermons explaining this parable, but lay aside for a few minutes the fact that you already think you know the answer to the puzzle. Place yourself in the crowd who heard the story for the first time. What does the seed represent? Who is the sower? What do the different types of ground mean? And note that Jesus doesn’t answer all these questions for the crowd. Why not? Maybe there are times when it’s best to let a story simmer in hearts?
In tomorrow’s devo we will go on in the text as Jesus’ inner circle asks Him to explain the meaning of the story. But for today, let’s carefully listen to the story again and allow it to raise its questions in our hearts.
LORD, give me the wisdom to know when it’s not wise to just come out with the facts and nothing but the facts. Teach me how to tell a good story like You do and help me to have the patience not to solve the puzzles too quickly. Help me to let a good story simmer.
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