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Hearer, Hearer quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

Luke 8:1-15




It is that time of the year again when the Christmas Message is seen on our screens, in the streets, in the shops, and in church services. The immediate re­sponse to this can be encourag­ing, but ongoing commitment is often disappointing. Why is this? Why do so many not take the message any fur­ther? The answer may be found in Luke 8:1-15. Verses 1-4 suggest that people followed Jesus for different reasons. He then told the par­able of the sower, the seed, and the soil. This brings us to our mes­sage to­day: Hearer, hearer, quite contrary, how does your garden grow. Following this theme, notice first how…




Verse 5 doesn’t say a sower went out to sow; it says the sower went out to sow. This is more specific. The sower in the parable could be the Lord himself or it could be the Lord working in us! As the seed is scattered, some falls along the path to be eaten by birds.


The soil on the path has potential to germinate the seed, but before it can pene­trate, the seed is trampled upon and eaten by birds. In v12, Jesus applies this to the devil who takes away the word so that people may not be­lieve and be saved. Elsewhere, the devil is seen as a roaring lion seeking to devour. Here he is a sweet sounding bird eating God’s seed.


This is why Hebrews 3:15 says, “Today, if you hear God’s voice, do not harden your heart.” The devil does not want us to believe in God or his ways. So James 4:7 says, “Submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” At this time of year, we hear about a saviour who came into our world. This is a great message, but it often fails to penetrate because of the many distractions. This leads to a fur­ther point. From solid soil producing hard hearers to…




Verse 6 says, “Some seed fell on rock and when it came up the plants withered be­cause they had no mois­ture.” The soil looked good on the sur­face, but underneath it was rock. The seed took root, but there was no substance and the plant withered.


In v13, Jesus said the seed that fell on rock are those who receive the word with joy, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in time of test­ing, they fall away. Peo­ple can be emotion­ally stirred during a message. They may respond, but if there is no root, they will not grow.


To allow God’s word to take root, we need to clear the ground. In this parable, there are those in whom the seed falls no further than the hard path; there are those in whom the seed begins to take root, but finds no substance; then there are those in whom the seed goes a little fur­ther. This is…




In v7, Jesus talks about seed that fell among thorns. The seed took root and grew, but the thorns choked the plants. Another translation says, “Other seed fell in the weeds; the weeds grew with it and strangled it.”


Matthew 13:22 says, “The seed that fell among thorns are those who hear the word, but the worries of life and deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruit­ful. This is often seen after Christmas when the festivities are over. Many are left with more than a physical head­ache. They are left with a spiritual vacuum that still hasn’t been filled. It is then back to work; back to reality; back to the pressures of life. Mark 8:36 says, “What good is it if we have every­thing we want and yet lose our soul?”


Like weeding a flowerbed, we don’t like to pull out unpro­ductive weeds in our lives. We do, however, like the re­sults. We like a harvest of spiri­tual fruit. Hebrews 6:7-8 says, “When soil soaks up rain that falls on it and bears a good crop, it has the bless­ing of God. But if a field bears this­tles and thorns, it is useless.” God’s seed cannot pene­trate solid ground. In shallow soil, God’s seed takes root but cannot grow. In starved soil, God’s seed begins to grow, but is choked by weeds. Then there is soft soil…




Jesus said in Luke 8:8 that some seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hun­dred times more than was sown. Jesus said in v15 that the seed on good soil stands for those who hear the word, retain it, and by perse­vering, pro­duce a healthy crop. Verse 10 (quoting Isaiah 6:9-10) says these are the ones to whom the kingdom of God is given, but to others I speak in parables, so that, ‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.


Strictly speaking, this passage is not the parable of the sower or the seed. It is the par­able of the soil. Throughout this parable, the sower and the seed remain the same, but the soil is dif­ferent each time. It is the soil, therefore, that determines what hap­pens to the seed. The soil re­ceives the same seed, from the same sower, but only good soil pro­duces a healthy crop. Having said this, Jesus raised his voice and called out, “Who­ever has ears to hear, let them hear.”


Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow…with silver bells and cockle­shells, and pretty maids all in a row. Why do we still remem­ber this? How are we go­ing to remember the parable of the soil? Hearer, hearer, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With the word of God and the Spirit of God and supportive Chris­tians all in a row. Without this, we will wither and die. When we hear God’s Word, we should not allow the devil to snatch it away. If we find our­selves on rocky ground, we should move to deeper soil and allow the seed of God’s word to pene­trate. As we begin to grow, we should re­move the weeds from our life as they seek to entangle us. Luke 8:15 says, this is the seed on good soil, and it stands for those who hear the word, retain it, persevere, and produce a healthy crop. To this end, we sing…


The following may help us reflect further on the message
these points can also be used as a discussion guide at fellowship groups




1.       Read Luke 8:4-15 and discuss why some people believe, take root, and grow, while others do not. How does this affect our evangelism?


2.       Define the sower, the seed, and the soil. Why is it important to call this the parable of the soil?


3.       Why is it that everyone in the parable hears the word, but not everyone puts it into practice? (Look at vs.12–15).


4.       How does the devil steal God’s Word from us? (v12). How can we pre­vent this from happening? Hebrews 3:15 and James 4:7-10 may help in your discussion.


5.       In the light of the second seed sown in Luke 8:6, how do we respond when people fall away from truth? See 1 John 2:19. How can we pre­vent this from happening to us? See 2 Peter 1:3-8.


6.       How do worry, riches, and worldly pleasure choke spiritual growth? (Luke 8:7 and v14). See also 1 Timothy 6:9-12.


7.       To what would you liken weeding in the illustration Jesus gave in Luke 8:14? How does this relate to Hebrews 6:7-8?


8.       How important is it in v8 when Jesus called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear”?


9.       How can we ensure that we all produce a healthy good crop of spiritual life? Psalm 1:1-3 may help in your discussion.