Friday, February 19, 2016

The Rocky And Thorny Ground

I'm still chewing on the parable of the sower in Luke chapter eight.

"Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience." - Luke 8:11-15 ESV

Parables are interesting things. They are very good to chew on because the meaning of the parable is deep and lasting but if you play with them to much they will break because they have a central meaning and it can be lost if you focus on the wrong things.

Someone could say, 'We are not farmers. Does He want us to be farmers? Is farming a more spiritual profession?'.

Whole groups of people have gone in directions like this. Jesus used Earthy illustrations and so people surmised that Jesus preferred rural activities and therefore they must be more spiritual but that is a stretch. Grace is white collar and blue collar. Grace is God's method for dealing with all people.

Robertson McQuilkin calls a parable one of the 'figures of comparison' in his book 'Understanding and Applying The Bible'. Figures of comparison are a distinct form of literature. Like a question or a command it has a primary usage and that must be known in order for it to be understood correctly.

The disciples understood that what they were hearing was a riddle of some kind. Jesus goes deeper and explains...

"And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, 'To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that 'seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.' " - Luke 8:9-10 ESV

So, I want to avoid how 'others' would interpret Jesus' words about the seed and the ground and find the way that is 'given'. The grace way. The gift way.

On the wayside the seed gets trodden down before it takes root. On the rocky ground things begin in joy but never progress. If there are thorns the plant grows to a certain point but never produces fruit. Only the good ground has fruit.

We talked about wayside ground but today I'm looking at rocky and thorny ground. Rocky ground is shallow and thorny ground has three aspects in the Gospel of Luke.

"...they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature..." Luke 8:14b

That is distilled further in Matthew.

"As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful." - Matthew 13:22 ESV

Grace understanding is good soil. The seed is given and the understanding is given.

If our understanding is shallow we will like what we hear but it won't take root because we have a system underneath that is incompatible with growth and maturity.

Thorns are unlike rocks. They are allowed to grow. They happen and they have benefits attached with them. Those benefits are deceitful ones but pleasurable for a season.

"The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." - Jeremiah 8:20 ESV

It is a sad lament. Jeremiah said this of Israel. Opportunities were wasted in their window of opportunity and there was no spiritual food to satisfy the hunger that was to come upon them.

God has good seed but do we have good soil?

Grace. Grace. Grace. That is what is needed.

My effort will fix nothing. God's grace is everything. Truth is given as a gift. I don't want to be shallow or distracted. There is to much at stake. The harvest season is only so long and what is planted today is needed for tomorrow.

God help us. Help us to handle the truth with care. Cause us to receive the truth with depth. Teach us grace. We want the principles to turn into application in our lives. We want to live the message. We want the fruits of the Holy Spirit to abound in our lives. Thank You God. You are the farmer and we are your field. Thank You God.


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