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Living Out the Parable of the Sower

31 Jan
sower

from Google Images

Luke tells us that the people gladly received Jesus when he returned and, in fact, were waiting for him (Luke 8:26, 40). If Jesus had been simply visiting towns along the coast of the Sea of Galilee, no one could have expected Jesus to return to their village. Therefore, Jesus must have returned to his home town, Capernaum. It is the only city on the coast of the lake that could have rightfully expected him to return. Knowing this, and understanding that folks came to Jesus out of every city (Luke 8:4), puts the timeline of these events during a Jewish festival, probably the Feast of Purim that occurred in the twelfth month of the Jewish calendar.

It is interesting to see how Jesus’ Parable of the Sower played out in the lives of the people who interacted with him, immediately following that event. Jesus had been preaching to the people and casting out demons, but the Pharisees accused Jesus of both being a demoniac and casting out demons by the authority of Beelzebub, whom they claimed was the prince of demons (Matthew 12:23-24; Mark 3:21-22).[1] Both Matthew and Mark place the Pharisees’ accusation just prior to Jesus’ Parable of the Sower. It is evident, first of all, that the Pharisees nearly always play the part of the birds (Satan, the devil)[2] in the parable, devouring the seed (Jesus), before he is able to change the hearts of the people who listen to him (Luke 8:5, 12).

Mary, Jesus’ mother, and his brothers and sisters (Luke 8:19-20) seem to play the part of the rocky soil into which the seed was sown (Luke 8:13), because they believed what the Pharisees claimed about Jesus (cf. Mark 3:30-32). The crowd who thronged him later, as he and Jairus made their way to Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:41-42), play the part of the soil that produced thorns, for they were carried away by the cares of the world (Luke 8:14). The good ground (Luke 8:15) is represented by some surprising figures, such as the demoniac of Gerasenes (Luke 8:27, 39), a ceremonially unclean woman (Luke 8:43-48) and a ruler of a synagogue, who also turned out to be a secret believer in Jesus (Luke 8:41).

Luke tells us that out of the welcoming crowd came Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, presumably, there in Capernaum (Luke 8:41). He requested that Jesus go with him to his home where Jairus’ only daughter of twelve years old lay dying (Luke 8:41-42). Jesus went with him, but their progress was hindered by the crowd, because the people thronged (G4846) Jesus (Luke 8:42). This same Greek word is also used in Luke 8:14 for the cares, riches and pleasures of life that choked (G4846) the life of the seed (Christ) that was planted in their hearts. So, spiritually choking out the life of Christ in one’s life is similar to physically thronging him or resisting his liberty of movement.

Whatever the demon represented in the demoniac’s life, once it was cast out of the man, he welcomed Jesus into his heart, which was now fertile ground. He would not be intimidated by the townsfolk, who asked Jesus to leave their land (Luke 8:37). He would not do what the enemy or slanderer (the townsfolk) desired to do; they wished to remove the seed (Jesus) from his heart. Rather, he published in his town and throughout the Decapolis what Jesus had done (Luke 8:39), forcing the townsfolk to reconsider Jesus, whom they welcomed when he returned (cf. Mark 5:20; 7:31).

The woman, who was made to feel ashamed due to her physical condition and was persecuted, in that she spent all her living on what amounts to be spiritual healers, who failed to help her (Luke 8:43, reached out in her ignorance for Jesus. She was a part of the crowd that was encumbered with the cares, riches and pleasures of life, yet she reached out for Jesus and found he not only welcomed her, but found him also to be her healer (Luke 8:48).

Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue (Luke 8:41), believed Jesus, but hid his faith in order to keep from being cast out of the synagogue in which he held such a high office (cf. John 12:42-43). He preferred the glory associated with his present life rather than the glory associated with obeying God. Nevertheless, when what was most important in his life was unveiled and came into jeopardy (Luke 8:42), he reached out of the thronging crowd to make a request of Jesus, and he found Jesus both willing and able (Luke 8:54-55).

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[1] Actually, all we have is the word of the accusers of Jesus that demons have a “prince” or leader. There is nothing in Scripture that would substantiate their claim. In Matthew 10:25, 12:27 and Luke 11:18-19 Jesus speaks according to their understanding, but even while doing so, Jesus never says there is such a being or that he does, in fact, rule over sentient beings referred to as demons. The understanding that a spiritual “prince” named Beelzebub exists and leads an innumerable army of spiritual beings called demons must be assumed by the reader, if such a claim is to be believed.

[2] The term or name “Satan” actually means enemy, and the term or name “Devil” actually means slanderer. Both of these terms can literally be applied to the Jewish authorities, including the Pharisees, who stood against Jesus during his public ministry. They were Jesus’ enemies, and they slandered his name. We don’t have to assume a spiritual enemy or a spiritual slanderer in order to understand the roles of the Jewish leaders at Jerusalem and the Pharisees throughout Judea and Galilee.

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Posted by on January 31, 2017 in Gospel of Luke

 

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