Luke 8.9-

His disciples asked him what this parable meant, and he said, “It has been granted to you to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but the others have only parables, in order that they may look, but see nothing, hear but understand nothing.”

This is what the parable means:

     The seed is the word of God.

     Those along the footpath are men who hear it, and then the Devil
     comes and carries off the word from their hearts for fear they
     should believe and be saved.

     The seed sown on rock stands for men who receive the word with
     joy when they hear it, but have no root. They are believers for
     awhile, but in the time of testing they desert.

     That which fell among thistles represents those who hear, but their
     further growth is choked by cares and wealth and the pleasures of
     life; and they bring nothing to maturity.

     But the seed in good soil represents those who bring a good and
     honest heart to the hearing of the word, hold it fast, and by their
     perseverence yield a harvest.”

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2 responses

  1. Here we go on your previous focus on the message. Seed as the word of God. Helpful. I’ve been focusing on that. Sharing it with clients who initiate prayer regarding cases. It’s tempting for clients (me too) under stress to focus on themselves and get fault-focused. You made a reference to Hudson. How, “the widespread foreclosures leading to a destitute class of part-time agricultural workers, the dark background behind some of Jesus' parables.” Do you see this dark background here? The “devil” and “choked by cares” – as Jesus’s compassion for the poor? – the difficulties of systematic poverty making it tough to focus on the message?

  2. I have a personal suspicion (nothing more) that this is later than the actual parable. Minor evidence: the parable is in Thomas, but not the explanation. On another hand, the explanation is uniform across the 3 synoptic gospels, which suggests it's pretty early…Where did we get this libel: that Jesus didn't want people to understand him?The point of a parable, in disguising a message about 'The Kingdom'… is that people will understand, including people who don't like what they hear– but they can't hang you for it.We're being strongly thrown back on this really basic question: What is the kingdom of God?If that's the subject of this message, then what is it saying?Some people hear that God is offering a chance to live under divine care & guidance… but the forces of mechanical habit, of denial, distraction, of clinging to the evils they know– prevent them from taking the risk of accepting.Some people do understand what's being offered… but don't yet yearn for it deeply.Some people just have too many competing desires, and let them get in the way.But when you are determined to find your place in God's invisible government of the world… God will manifest his will through you. [Quite surprisingly so, sometimes!]—Yes, poverty can be a distraction– and can certainly exhaust the energy a person would need to study deeply. But it also tends to throw a person into realizing his absolute dependence on God… and seeing that God does come through in times of need.Monetary wealth… leaves people imagining that their wealth gives them security. They don't sufficiently feel the need to turn towards God. The "cares" we're talking about here are the demands that such wealth puts on people, all the thought and worry they devote to clinging to it.This is, as Crossan called it, a kingdom of nobodies; there are no entrance requirements.

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