The parable of the sower in Luke 8 is one of those stories that I believe has been misused in the modern church and has created divisions among people. It plays right into a dualistic and judgmental mind. However, when it’s read in the original language and within the context of the following parable, something bigger and more optimistic begins to emerge.
The story tells of a sower who spreads seed over diverse environments. Of course even the disciples didn’t make the connection, so Jesus later explains the meaning of the parable. He tells them that he uses parables as way of teaching all comers (v.10), but emphasizes that those who understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven (conscious awareness) (v.10) will hear it as something more than an agricultural tale. Too often this is taught as though Jesus is trying to exclude some from hearing. He’s not, he’s simply pointing out that until they possess experiential knowledge, the deeper meaning will elude them. This is because his audience is diverse people from surrounding towns.
- Seed: (v.11) The seed is the word or message of God (Logos). This is not exclusively the bible but includes the bible. John 1 tells us the word (Logos) was in the beginning with God and became flesh. John is saying the word is Jesus but also predates Jesus. (physical and non-physical reality) We must understand the cosmic nature of Logos or this parable becomes tribal.
- Road: (v.12) Seed sown on the path/road doesn’t last long enough to take root. The birds take it. Explained as the devil (evil one or evil person) takes it from their “Kardia”(Heart/Mind/Inner self). The ESV really gets (v.12) wrong when it translates it as a future conditional construct “…they may not believe and be saved.”. The Greek renders this as a subjunctive, aorist, plural nominative construction meaning: “…not having believed they would be saved.” In other words, the road is that hostile place where the inner adversarial force convinces us that the message (that God is saving the world) doesn’t apply to us: we aren’t savable.
- Rocks: (v.13) Seed sown on the rocks takes root (people hear and like the Logos). Though they understand the message, they forsake it during difficult times. This is not just succumbing to temptation and falling away. Plants can thrive among rocks, he’s explaining how consciousness of the logos is lost if not taken deep into our soul or if it’s known by a false self. “Believe for a while…”
- Thorns: (v.14) Seed sown among thorns grow well until they are choked out by competing forces. The Greek renders this: “…yet living under the control of cares and riches and pleasures of life they are overwhelmed (oppressed).” This is all about distraction, losing our center, or shifting priorities. While we grow, we remain immature, and our life and faith is somewhat fruitless.
- Soil: (v.15) Seed sown on good soil hear the Logos in our true or good inner self (Kardia) and life and faith produce results (bear fruit) that endure.
I’m convinced these diverse environments are not so much fixed and therefore applied to people in a fixed way, as they are stages throughout our lives which represent the process of spiritual formation. It’s not as though the seed is thrown once, the parable is that of the Sower, and sowers sow seed repeatedly. While we may be good soil today, there was a time when we each were a path, a rock, or a thorn in regards to the Logos. This should give us grace toward others, not critical examination or hostility toward those who seem to under appreciate the message of God. None of us appreciate it until we are ready (cultivated soil). Suffering makes us ready.
I’m convinced we all become soil because of Part B.
Jesus combines this parable with another by adding (dè) “and” or “Furthermore.” He goes on to say that nobody lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl (v.16). We don’t put lamps under beds. The light enables the “mover intoers” (those entering) to see (v.16).
While the parable starts with a message that is presently hidden from some (v.10), Jesus is clearly saying it will not be hidden for long. “For there is nothing hidden that will not become evident and nothing secret that will certainly not become known , indeed it will come into the open.” (v.17) When it comes to the message (Logos) of God , (the message that God is saving the world), this is something that will be evident to everyone.
And then there is this huge “Therefore.”
“Pay attention to how you hear” (v.18). The Greek word ákoúw (hakouo) has many meanings of which are to hear, receive news, understand, obey, or pay attention. The point is that it’s not so much that we hear or pay attention, as much as it is how we pay attention.
If the parable was taught so that “hearing” some may not hear, then the whole point is to pay attention to the deeper meaning found everywhere. People are in various phases of waking up. Paths and rocks will hear but are not awake enough to really understand, they will hear but not hear. Thorns will hear but not always pay attention. Soil is awake enough to pay attention to how it pays attention. Good soil is the conscious observer.
To hear and understand the Logos is to pay attention. Finding Gods message is all about raising ones consciousness. It’s sown everywhere like seeds. The Logos is everywhere. As Richard Rhor says, “Christ is the name for everything.” If you are among rocks and thorns but you pay attention (or have God consciousness) then you will thrive. Consciousness is good soil. Consciousness is to have eyes to see.
Waking up to the message (Logos) is itself the message (Logos). Consciousness creates the flywheel of FLOW in our lives. The more awake we are, the more awake we become. The less awake we are, the more likely we are to lose what we have by drifting off to sleep. This isn’t a threat, it’s the way and flow of life.
May we all wake up so that we can wake up even more, and see the Glory and work of God in every atom of the universe. May we all be transformed by the awareness of God among us.