The Gospel According to Luke: Part 23 :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

An Exposition

Luke 8:4-15: “The Parable of the Sower”

“And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He told them a parable: ‘A sower went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some fell by the wayside and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock, and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop of a hundredfold.’ When He had said these things, He cried, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’

“Then His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘What does this parable mean?’ He said, ‘To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that, ‘Seeing, they do not see, and hearing, they do not understand.’ Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear, then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.

“Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience'” (Luke 8:4-15, NKJV).

As I write this, news has come out in the world of contemporary “Christian” music that the lead singer of a well-known group that has been around for a couple of decades announced that he no longer believes in God. He joins an ever-growing rank of young adults who have chosen to walk away from all forms of belief or demonstrations of faith in the God they had claimed to serve at one time, but for a myriad of reasons, they decided that it was all bogus. They decided to announce this to the world, disappointing followers, encouraging an ever-growing atheism.

Whether they are aware of it or not, they validate what the Scriptures tell us will be a sign of the coming of Jesus Christ back to this world (Ex. 32:1; 32:23; Deut. 9:16; 13:13; 17:3; 29:18;31:29; 32:18; Judges 2:12, 17; 3:6; 5:8; 8:33; 2 Chron.7:22; 24:18; 25:20; 28:23; Neh.9:26; Isa. 59:13; Jer.2:5, 11, 25; 3:8, 20; 7:9; 18:15; 32:33; 44:25; Ezek.5:6; 8:16; 20:32; 23:30, 35;36:20;44:10; Hosea 2:5, 13; 5:7; 7:13; 9:1; Acts 7:39; 19:13; 2 Tim.4:10; Heb. 6:6; 1 John 2:19).

These “fake believers” are also effective “word pictures” for what Jesus is teaching His disciples concerning the effect of the gospel upon people and whether it takes root as does a plant in the soil, or ends up as food for birds, or shrivels into waste that will be stamped into the hard ground.

Jesus, as the Master Teacher, presents His lessons primarily in the form of parables, which are stories designed to not just inform, but to get the listener to think through the implications of what had been presented in the story. He starts off His presentation by talking about an event that was part of the agrarian lifestyle the people with which His audience was familiar. Every year at planting time, they would see farmers going out into their fields to scatter the seeds that would produce the crops for the benefit of the community as well as the family. In this story, the sower was putting out the seed that he would expect to bloom, grow, and harvest at the proper times.

The parable presented (vv. 4-8)

  • There were seeds scattered that in turn were trampled down and devoured by the birds.
  • There were seeds scattered that fell on rocky ground, briefly sprouted, and withered just as quickly.
  • There were seeds that fell on soil that had not been cleared of all the thorns, and the seed was choked because they had no nutrients.
  • There were seeds that fell on good ground and produced an abundant harvest.

The parable defined (vv.9-10)

  • The lesson behind the initial story is given to the disciples in order to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of God.
  • The outwardly religious and the worldly minded would not see beyond the story or think about the deeper meaning. Only God’s elect would be given the opportunity to really see and hear what Jesus had presented.

The parable explained (vv.11-15)

  • The wayward seed represents the devil who takes away the Word from what seem to be spiritually hungry hearts, but turn out to be indifferent towards God’s provision, if not hostile towards it altogether. There will always be people who seem to want to learn more about the things of God but reject it as foolish and useless.
  • The seed thrown into the rocky soil represents the false convert, whose dedication and joy towards the things of God last as long as the first sign of trouble or adversity shows up, then they abandon all pretense of conversion and walk away from a faith they never possessed in the first place.
  • The seed that fell into the soil that had thorns represents those hearers who are more concerned with the things of the world rather than the condition of their soul. They are trying to please two masters and will end up with nothing of value for their lives in the process (Luke 16:13). These people really will not be able to be entrusted with anything.
  • The seed that fell into the good soil represents the work of the Gospel in changing a person’s life where the word and work of God take root and produce a spiritual harvest that will only be able to be fully gleaned at the end of the age. We are to never dismiss that one person out of many who will be used of God to do great things for Him. The following story is an excellent example.

In 1852, a Sunday school teacher in Chicago named Fred Kimball went to visit his pupils and decided to first call on one named Dwight, who worked as a clerk in a shoe store. Mr. Kimball witnessed to Dwight during a lunch break, and Dwight came to faith in Christ as a result. Dwight, with a limited education, felt called to preach and began to go around the nation and later the world as an evangelist. This man was Dwight L. Moody.

One of the men who came to Christ as a result of Moody’s work was J. Wilbur Chapman, who began evangelistic work in the Chicago area and reached the heart of a baseball player named Billy Sunday, who was saved and started going around the nation preaching in crusades and meetings.

His preaching touched the heart of a young man named Mordecai Ham, who began holding revivals in the Southern states and the Midwest.

Ham held a meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1935 where a young, spiritually indifferent teenager named William was saved and later felt called to serve God as an evangelist himself. William was known by his nickname, “Billy.” His last name was Graham. Billy Graham (1918-2018) ended up preaching the Gospel to over an estimated 100,000,000 people in his lifetime. We will not know how many men and women were called to the service of Christ due to Dr. Graham’s work until we gather around the throne of heaven.

Who has the LORD placed upon your heart to witness to this day? The harvest is ready to be gathered.

Let the hearer, as well as the reader, understand.