The Big Idea: The way you listen to God’s Word reveals the condition of your heart and creates a faith trajectory for your life. Text: Luke 8:4-15
(Here is the outline from yesterday’s talk at the Origin worship gathering.)
The Parable is preceded by some dramatic scenes:
1. John the Baptist questions if Jesus is “the one.”
2. A woman crashes Simon the Pharisee’s party and hears the announcement that her sins are forgiven; her faith has saved her.
3. Jesus begins going through the cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God to large crowds with a contingent of committed men and women.
Two Important terms
Kingdom of God: The age and reality of God’s rule and reign, initiated by Jesus, the Messiah and King, in order to deliver people from the kingdom of darkness through the forgiveness of their sins they may know God and participate in His redemptive work.
Heart: For biblical authors the heart is more than the organ pumping blood; “it is the control center of our lives, the place where we take in all the data (whether through our brains, our emotions, our imaginations), sort it out and make decisions. The problem says Jesus, is that not enough of those who hear the good news with their ears are allowing the good news to take over the control centre. Something or–someone else–runs the control center.” Darrel Johnson, The Glory of Preaching, p. 42
Four Heart Profiles Revealed by Gospel Proclamation
- Hard Heart.
- Shallow Heart.
- Cluttered Heart.
- Submissive Heart.
1. The Hard Heart. Vs. 12
“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.”
God “gives” His word, the good news of the Kingdom, to bring salvation. The devil “takes” so that the process of hearing, believing, and being saved is interrupted.
“But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news?’ But they have all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?’ So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:14-17
This heart is hardened against God, His Word, His Kingdom, His life. It is habitually unbelieving. People with a hard heart do not “understand.” That is they do not grasp, comprehend, or “stand under” the revealed word of God and take action accordingly.
Note Jesus’ interaction with His disciples regarding this parable.
a. Jesus issues a call to all the crowd to “hear.”
b. The disciples ask Jesus what the parable meant. vs. 9
c. He affirms God’s grace to them–the secrets of the Kingdom have been given to you. vs. 10
d. Jesus identifies the parables as part of God’s plan to reveal the condition heart condition of people: they hear, but do not “understand.” vs. 10
2. The Shallow Heart. Vs. 13
“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.”
These people are happy to receive Jesus and the good news of the Kingdom of God. However, when adversity because of that word and this relationship comes they walk away.
They have the appearance of discipleship, but they have a hardness just below the surface. They are shallow. The Shallow Heart is unwilling to allow the Gospel to penetrate areas of significance in their lives and therefore have no root.
They are not willing to give extensive thought regarding the implications of the Gospel for their lives. Their primary value remains happiness. They are easily offended and therefore depart from their walk with Jesus and the fellowship of the church before “the time of testing” accomplishes what God desires in the formation of their heart.
3. Cluttered Heart. Vs. 14
“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.”
Like the shallow heart, these people hear the word and have the appearance of a great start with Jesus. However, their lives are pre-occupied and cluttered with other affections. Their lives are ruled by other matters. Jesus identifies three controlling concerns:
3. pleasures of life.
The Cluttered heart refuses to allow Jesus to reorient or reorder the priorities of their lives. They may be around the fellowship and show promise of fruit in keeping with the kingdom however, they never become multipliers or reproducers; they never reach maturity. They hang around, but never produce.
4. Submissive Heart. Vs. 15
“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.”
The good soil represents those people who hear the word of God and are responsive. In the final sense of this parable they are the one who have been graced to hear, believe, and be saved.
Jesus notes three aspects of their responsive.
1. They hold it fast.
2. They hold it fast in an honest and good heart.
3. They bear fruit with patience.
This parable has both promise and warning for us as listeners to God’s Word. The way you listen to God’s Word reveals the condition of your heart and creates a faith trajectory for your life. As a listener there may be seasons or areas of my heart that are hard, shallow, cluttered or submissive.
For those engaged in the ministry of God’s Word through personal witness, proclamation, discipling, or teaching or preaching, this parable serves to instruct us and encourage us to persist in that ministry even though we do not immediately see crowds changed by the good news of Kingdom of God. The “seed is good.” Our task is to keep submitting and to keep sowing.