Sermon for March 20, 2022

Dense Soil — Luke 8:4-15

I. Study Notes

A. Leading up to this portion of scripture, Jesus is traveling from town to town with his 12 disciples and an unnumbered total of women.  Then, a large crowd started following him from town to town.  After these verses, Jesus reveals that initially, only the disciples would be the first to understand the truth of God.  The famous question of who Jesus is, is answered by Peter as Jesus being the Messiah.

B. Passage Notes: This area of Scripture is very interesting as Jesus makes a statement in verse 10 that for some these are parables, or stories, or riddles, as the truth is within the story, yet they do not perceive it.  Therefore, it is secret ONLY because our understanding is blind.  These verses of Scripture are broken down into three different parts, they are:

1. Potent Seeds and varied soils

2. Knowing the secrets of the Kingdom of God

3. The parable explained[1]

As I was researching this, what I found the most interesting is that verses 1-3 set up who the audience is, which are the 12 disciples and women. One then must slow down and research the women who are named as followers of Jesus. Also, Luke 8:1 to 9:20 set up an entire pericope of same teaching about the Kingdom of God.  The question that opened my eyes in my study also, was the Luke deletes the opening clause in Mark that is a parallel story that has Jesus alone.  There is a Markan source and another source to this story, it appears.

We should understand that there are various effects when sowing the seed about the kingdom of God.  Jesus points to the need of a proper response to the preaching.  When we understand, this is a supernatural act of God of privilege and grace that has been gifted to us.[2]

The average yield of grain in Palestine in that age was between 7 and 15-fold.[3]  There are references in Genesis 24 of God blessing them 100-fold.  Jesus is suggesting to simply sow, even if some falls to places you wouldn’t normally sow, like the sides of a path or on it.  Delivers and it may take root in a place you didn’t purposefully sow.

II. Sermon Outline:  This is done after the extensive exegetical work is complete and where the rhetorical work begins.

A. Big Idea: You can’t reap where you don’t sow.

INTRODUCTION: Have you ever bought something that needed put together?  You look at the instructions and you just don’t understand them.  When you Google Ikea, one of the biggest complaints are hard to understand instructions.  Jesus’ disciples had listened to his teaching, going place to place, and he spent the most time trying to help them understand the teaching of the kingdom of God.  However, they always struggled with their understanding.  However, at least they had a relationship with Jesus that allowed them to approach him to state, “Hey, we just aren’t getting it!?!”

Luke 8:4–15 (NIV): 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.’

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.

First Point: Following the teachings of Jesus can be hard to understand.

Explain the point:  We do not have the privilege to be taught by Jesus directly.  If his disciples and the women could not understand, we should expect we might struggle as well.  However, they still knew that there was something about Jesus that was worth following.

Illustrate:  Jesus’ teachings are hard.  Why?  Well, it boils down to the issue with human willingness to change their minds.  We tend to get set in our ways.  We tend to accept what the majority of our regional cultures accept.  When something then challenges one of those “accepted” ideas, it can be hard for us to understand.  For some, it is easier to change their mind and change is easy.  Those are usually in the minority.  In between, we see a variety of soil in which the easiness or the rigidity of our personal accepted convictions to accept a different truth that turns us towards the mind of God.

Apply:  Jesus’ disciples followed but they did not understand his teaching.   However, perhaps there is a reason for this: John 12: 16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorifiedy did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.

Second Point:  Even though they didn’t understand, they still followed Jesus.

Explain the point:  The disciples saw miracles.  They saw food multiply.  They saw all types of infirmities healed.  They new that Jesus was good.  They still went out 2 by 2 casting out demons and healing people, just like Jesus.

Illustrate:  John 6:60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 zIt is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Apply:  I love when Peter asks, “Where else would we go?”  There is more we could say about just Peter.  Even he struggled from here until the famous conversation on the beach after the Resurrection, when Jesus asks, “Do you love me, Peter” three times.  Eventually, at Pentecost, Peter becomes a bold preacher and understood the teachings of Jesus that leads to eternal life.  You could say that Peter was “rocky soil” and perhaps this is why Jesus changes his name to Peter?

Third Point:  You don’t have to understand everything to follow Jesus, however, you will gradually understand more as your trust in Jesus increases.  At some point, you’ll get it.  But beyond that, I think it was John’s openness to following Jesus, even when he wasn’t confident in his understanding of his teachings.  Perhaps it was his youthfulness, being the youngest of the 12 disciples.  We do not know if he was the youngest when you begin to count the female followers.  In fact, it seems to me that it was John and the women who were the closer followers of Jesus initially. 

Illustrate:  John 19:25–27 (NIV): 25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Apply:  At the end, when Jesus died on Golgotha, who was there with Him?  They didn’t all quite understand yet either, perhaps only Jesus’ mother truly understood, but the rest, they are still perplexed.

Luke 24:1–12 (NIV): 24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.

9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

John 20:1–10 (NIV): 20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Conclusion:  Insomuch, we understand that Jesus’ own followers struggled with understand the way of Jesus.  Eventually, like John, we look into it, and we believe.  There was every type of soil that was with Jesus.  Some became fertile ground, and his teaching grew within them.  Some were rocky soil, and through some trials and other issues, they had seeds planted that eventually took full root when the rocks were removed. Some, like Judas, were soils that it was planted but eventually choked out and sadly, he eventually hung himself, a little on the nose for the type of soil he was.  Still, Jesus taught them all.  Ate with them all.  Washed the feet of them all.  He did not pick and choose his sowing.  Some fell on the path, and they began to follow him as well.  Gentiles followed him.  Some priests followed him.  Samaritans followed him; even Roman soldiers followed them.  They caught a little seed and it grew.  Therefore, we must focus on the soil within ourselves, but also, allow the Holy Spirit to help us.

John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.


[1] John Nolland. Luke 1:1-9:20, Volume 35A. Word Biblical Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic, 2018. Pp. 368-381. https://search-ebscohost-com.libproxy.anderson.edu:8443/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=2026309&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

[2] John Nolland. Luke 1:1-9:20, Volume 35A. Word Biblical Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic, 2018. Pp.381 https://search-ebscohost-com.libproxy.anderson.edu:8443/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=2026309&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

[3] John Nolland. Luke 1:1-9:20, Volume 35A. Word Biblical Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic, 2018. Pp. 371. https://search-ebscohost-com.libproxy.anderson.edu:8443/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=2026309&site=ehost-live&scope=site

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