Sermon: Hearing God’s Word (part 1) (Luke 8:1-15)

Hearing God’s Word (part1)

Last week we looked at a scene of unprecedented extravagance.  The former prostitute who had been forgiven by Jesus of her great many sins and she loved much.  She loved Jesus so much for showing her grace that when she heard He was eating with Simon ran to his house to show Jesus her gratefulness for what He had done for her.  In just a short number of hours, she was beginning to bear fruit.  She was showing everyone present that this man in front of her has all authority and has the authority to forgive sin.

Luke writes this account and then following it gives us the explanation in the beginning of our passage today that there were a great number of women who had been healed of demons and disease, and a great number who have had their sins forgiven.  A great number were following Jesus and showing Him and His disciples love as they cared for their needs while Jesus and His apostles preached and taught the multitudes.

All of these women were bearing fruit.  They heard the Word, understood the Word, believed the Word, and the result was that they began living different lives as the Word changed their hearts.  Fruit for the Kingdom was the result.

Jesus had been healing and preaching for about two years now.  This really marks a shift in Luke’s emphasis from healing miracles to the preaching and teaching ministry of Jesus.  Luke introduces the next section by recording that: Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God.

So the thrust in this text is really hearing the Word of God.  In the first 21 verses, the word hearing occurs 9 times.  To really hear means that you will obey what you hear and this will result in fruit.  The type of hearing Jesus speaks of when He says, those who have ears to hear, is a hearing that is deeper than just having sound waves enter you ear but a hearing that results in application.

Please…hear God’s Word:

Luke 8:1 Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.  4 And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 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. 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. 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. 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.

May we be Doers of the Word and not hearers only…

1. True Hearers (8:1-3)

Luke 8:1 Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.

After about two years, many have been saved and healed.  Many were following Christ and exercising their spiritual gifts and bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God.  This is a picture of a ministry where all the pistons are firing.  Everyone had a job to do.  Everyone was doing what God had called them to do.  True hearers of the Word are bearing fruit.

Jesus was preaching, Apostles were learning and preaching some, and because there was a great need for this to continue, the women were working to see to it that Jesus’ ministry could continue.

A hearer of the Word is bearing fruit in their lives.  If you’re not bearing fruit, you’re not truly hearing God’s Word.

As we think through what Luke shows us in the first three verses, we can see how important it is for everyone to have a ministry in the church?  What has God called you to do?  Everyone has a job to do.  If a ministry is to be functioning well we must all be doing our part.  Bench warmers must get in the game.  Being doers of God’s Word is Kingdom work.

Why were the women working so hard and giving so much?  They understood that their role was crucial.  The three women mentioned are just a few of the many who were busy in the ministry of providing for Jesus and the apostles.

They had all received amazing things from Christ.  They had been healed, had demons cast out and were now partakers of the kingdom.  They are great examples of what it means to really hear the Word.  They had ears to hear and they heard.  They understood just what Christ had done for them and they showed their gratitude by supplying the needs that He and the apostles had while they did for others what these women had experienced.  Theirs was not an attitude of selfishness…What am I going to get?  But an attitude of gratefulness…How can I give so others can be saved and reap benefits?  They had truly heard the Word of God and were acting on it.

2.  The Parable About Hearing (8:4-8)

And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Here in Luke, we have the first major parable recorded from Jesus’ teaching.  In verses 1-3 we have real life pictures of women who had really heard the Word.  In other words, the seed fell on good soil and was bearing fruit.  Now, Luke records the parable Jesus tells as further proof of what it means to have the Word bear fruit in one’s life.

Because this is the first major parable, I want to make sure we all understand what a parable is and what it accomplishes.

A parable is a teaching device which illustrates a truth in story form.  Most of the time the parable was a story Jesus made up to teach a spiritual truth.  A parable uses well known things often to illustrate spiritual things.

What a parable does is really two-fold.  It reinforces a truth and helps explain the truth to those in the Kingdom of God.  It hides the truth from those who are not in the Kingdom.  Jesus does this to help His disciples understand and lessen the responsibility of those who are not His disciples.  Parables open up truth to God’s elect and hide truth from the non-elect.  Those who will never trust Christ, He is hiding the truth so that they will not be held more accountable to God for the truth they’ve heard.  He opens the parable to His followers so that it yields fruit in their lives.
Matthew 13:10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
“‘You will indeed hear but never understand,

and you will indeed see but never perceive.
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

This particular parable is set in an the agricultural world.  In the culture of the day, farmers used a method of planting called broadcasting.  Here they would through the seed out onto the ground and some would land on prepared soil,

-Some would land on the path between the good soil where people would walk either in through the field or around the field.  As they walked, the seed would stepped on or because it just sat on top, birds might come and eat it.

-Some seed as it’s thrown out might even land on rocky places.  Here the seed may receive a rain or two and sprout.  However, because all the moisture goes right on down past the little bit of shallow soil and the roots, it withers away.

-Some lands among weeds and thorns and the thorns use all the nutrients and the plant doesn’t grow much and never bears fruit.

-Finally, some seeds fall onto good prepared soil and when rain falls they sprout.  Because the soil has nutrients and because there are no weeds the plant grows and matures and bears fruit.

3. The Secrets of the Parable (8:9-15)

And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 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. 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. 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. 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.

Notice that the disciples didn’t understand the parable either.  They were left scratching their heads along with the others.  The difference was, they had a relationship with Jesus.  They were a part of the Kingdom of God and they could ask the King what He meant by this story.

To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God…

Jesus begins to unfold this privileged insider information to His followers.  He begins to share the secrets of the Kingdom.

-The seed is the word of God. God’s Word is broadcast like the seed.  The Sower throws the seed out and the preacher broadcasts the Word.  In this case it was Jesus doing the preaching.  God’s Word goes out like the seed.

-Hard Heart– 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.

This is a picture of a hard-hearted person who hears the Word but it never penetrates their heart or touches the conscience.  Very quickly Satan, like the crow, snatches the seed up.  Jesus clearly says these people never believe and are never saved.  This is an explanation of why some people can hear the gospel many many times and remain unaffected by it.

-Superficial Heart- 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.

Here, the plant spouts and is green and lush.  It looks amazingly a lot like the plant growing in good soil.  But there is a problem, what you see is only what is above the ground.  You don’t see what’s beneath.  The plant has no roots.  When the plant goes for a couple of weeks without rain, it dries up and withers away.  Like this plant is a person who hears the Word superficially but doesn’t really put it to practice.  They seem to be excited about Jesus at first and even have some level of belief and faith.  But when struggles come into their lives they fall away much like the plant.

Have you ever known someone who at first seemed very enthusiastic about the things of the Lord but in time the fire burns out and they are no where to be found?  This has always been the case in the life of the church.

Even back as far as the 3rd Century we have a lamenting pastor sharing his experiences,

Cyril of Alexandria sadly comments,

Some people joyfully receive instruction, yet when they go out of the churches, at once they forget the sacred doctrines and go about their customary course, not having stored up within themselves anything for their future benefit…When persecution troubles them and the enemies of the truth attack the churches of the Savior, their heart does not love the battle, and their mind throws away the shield and flees.—Ryken on Luke pg 361

These are the folks whose Christianity is not deeply rooted in Christ and when trouble comes fall away because they’re not rooted in the truths of Christ.

-Distracted Heart- 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.

These are the people who continue to go to church and listen to sermons and attend other things in the life of the church.  They continue doing these kinds of things.  Jesus doesn’t say that these folks fall away, they seem to continue in their life of being associated with the church.

Because they are distracted with other things in life they never bear fruit.  These folks look the closest to the real thing but they are not Christians.

They’re looking for Jesus to give them happiness and pleasure ultimately in this world not in the world to come.  They want Jesus to give them their heart’s desires.  Jesus isn’t the end but a means to an end for these folks.  They really don’t want Jesu, they want what He can give them.  Their affections are really set on the world.

When I read this text, I always think of Demas, Paul mentions in 2 Timothy…

2 Timothy 4:9 Do your best to come to me soon. 10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.          

Demas loved this present world more than he loved Christ.  These types of people who flirt with Christianity when it meets some earthly need stick around until they discover that Jesus wants us to look to the future Kingdom when He is reigning eternally.

-Prepared Heart- 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.

Can you see here how these folks hear the Word in a different way than all the others?  These are the Christians.  These people really hear.  They hear and hold fast to it.  They cling to it.  They hold it tightly and act on what it says.

Hold it Fast– to hold fast, keep secure, keep firm possession of 2) to get possession of, take 2b) to possess

These have really heard, they have ears to hear.  They continually hold fast.  As they keep clinging to the Word and persevere through trials, they begin to bear fruit.  If a tree is to bear fruit it needs to withstand a few storms.  If we are to bear fruit we too will probably need to weather a few storms.

We are patient and we hold fast to the Word and we begin to bear fruit.  Perhaps a little at first but then the more we cling to the Word, the more fruit we will bear.

Are you bearing fruit?  On a personal level, are you exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit?

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

The bottom line is when we are holding fast to God’s Word couple that with the Holy Spirit living within us, outward works will begin to be manifested in our lives.  We will begin to do good works for God.  Our focus will be like the women who worked so that Jesus’ ministry could prosper.

Do you have ears to hear?

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