As I was reading Luke 8, the parable of the soils, I was taken back to a night in 1974 when the darkness in my soul was as deep as the moonless darkness outside. I was alone at home and picked up a Helen Steiner Rice book that I had given Emily some time before, to seek consolation. Opening the book I read the following poem, a poem that had such an effect on me that it has stayed with me ever since then:
“The farmer ploughs through fields of green
and the blade of the plough is sharp and keen,
But seed must be sown to bring forth grain,
For nothing is born without suffering and pain –
And God never ploughs in the soul of man
Without intention and purpose and plan,
So whenever you feel the plough’s sharp blade
Let not your heart be sorely afraid
For, like the farmer, God chooses a field
From which He expects an excellent yield –
So rejoice though your heart is broken in two,
God seeks to bring forth a rich harvest in you.
Although I wasn’t converted yet, after I had dried the tears away, it was as if a shaft of light suddenly shone into my darkness. “How exciting, the pain I am feeling is a sign of the fact that God is preparing me for a specific task!” There are a few signposts in my life which stand out as pointers that God has always had a very special plan for me. Of course I now believe He has a special plan for each one of us, but this was part of a completely unexpected, highly personal directive.
So to Luke, the three stories from Luke 8:4-21 need to be read together as they have a common theme. It is a twofold theme and deals with God’s Word on the one hand and our response on the other. The three stories are held together by: “He who has ears to hear let him hear.” Luke 8:8; The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you (the disciples), but to others I speak in parables, so that though seeing, they may not see; though hearing they may not understand” Luke 8:10; Whoever has will be given more, whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Luke 8:18; My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice Luke 8:21.
Can you see the link to the name of our blog lets LISTEN to Jesus. The premise is that there is “listening” and “LISTENING”. He who has ears let him hear. How do you know whether you are hearing Jesus Word? Well it shows in the response, doesn’t it. One who hears and understands produces fruit, there is a change, isn’t it. The story of the lamp is basically saying God isn’t really making a secret of the kingdom (as He says in vs 9b), His Word is as clear as a lamp on he hill. The problem of not understanding lies with the attitude of the listener (reader). So, as in the third story those who really listen and are truly part of the kingdom (iow saved) are those who not only hear the word but put it into practice. In other words they hear from the heart, they hear Jesus speaking to them personally. These stories reveal that the way we listen can bring a sort of judgement on those who don’t really want to hear, who don’t want to obey who are like the first three soils in the parable.
Don’t we see this in practice? The most intelligent and highly trained intellectuals often miss the point completely because they are just interested in analyzing the passage, not in hearing Jesus and having their lives changed. Others come to church for whatever reason, but have no real interest in meeting with Jesus and having a life-transforming experience. etc. To many others, this life-giving, all-powerful Word makes no sense at all, even when it is explained. On the other hand is it not so exciting that we all have access to Jesus and His words, they are as plain as a light on a hill-top, if we wish to hear and respond. And just as John the Baptist was “preparing the way for Jesus”, so our Father prepares our hearts and sometimes this means using a sharp plough to prepare our heart’s soil so that we can be receptive to His word. Seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened unto you.
Lets then – really “listen to Jesus”, expectantly asking Him to open our hearts that we may truly change to love and obey Him more and more, from our hearts.