As we near Harvest Festival time, I recently read a passage from the Bible: Luke Chapter 8, verses 1-15, which is the Parable of the Sower. This was one of the daily readings on my Bible in One Year App and I share the commentary by Nicky Gumbel, the founder of Alpha, with you below.
A great deal of Jesus’ ministry was about sowing seeds. Jesus went about “proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God,” (v1), wherever he went. Sometimes this involves travelling to sow seeds, e.g. on a mission. At other times Jesus gathered people together and then sowed seeds – “A large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town,” (v4).
Jesus did not do all the sowing on his own. He had a team, at the heart of which were twelve men and “also some women,” (v2). Women played a very important role in Jesus’ ministry, which we looked at in some depth in one of our recent House Group meetings. Among other things they helped “to support” the team “out of their own means,” (v3).
Jesus then describes what they are all doing in terms of the Parable of the Sower. They, like us, are sowing the seed of the Word of God. However, do not be disappointed if not everyone responds equally:
Some will not believe: “The seeds on the road are those who hear the Word, but no sooner do they hear it than the Devil snatches it from them so they won’t believe and be saved,” (v12).
Have you ever stopped to consider that strong people are those who have not had an easy past? Faith is tested, trouble in life is almost inevitable. Some seem to respond enthusiastically, but it does not last – “they have no root,” (v13).They hear with enthusiasm, but the enthusiasm does not go very deep. It is only another fad and the moment there is trouble it is gone.
Others seem to be very responsive, but later drop out due to the “thorns of life,” (v14) – anxieties, cares, riches, pleasures. These are the ones who hear, but then the seed is crowded out and nothing comes of it as they go about their lives worrying about tomorrow, making money and having fun.
The first three categories lead to great disappointment and sadness. However, Jesus says that some will be responsive and “steadily bring forth fruit with patience,” v (15). These are the people who seize the Word and hold on to it no matter what, sticking with it until there is a harvest – they might “reap a hundred times what is sown,” (v8).
So, when you might be disappointed because someone has rejected an offer, do not be surprised. There are others who will respond wholeheartedly to an opportunity and you could have a huge impact in their own and others’ lives.
These words of Jesus are not just about other people. It is about you and me, every time we hear the Word of God – for example when we are reading the Bible or listening to a talk. Listen carefully – in one sense the whole of your life is a response to the Word of God. The more responsive you are, the more you will be given.