Summary: There is good physical illustration in here that catches the attention of young and old alike.
OPEN:A Georgia farmer, ragged and barefooted, was standing on the steps of his tumbledown shack.
A stranger stopped for a drink of water and just to pass the time of day he asked: "How is your cotton coming along?" he asked.
"Ain’t got none," replied the farmer.
"Did you plant any?" asked the stranger.
"Nope," was the reply, "afraid of bollweevils."
"Well," continued the stranger, "how is your corn?"
"Didn’t plant none," came the answer, "’fraid there weren’t going to be no rain."
The visitor persevered: "Well, how are your potatoes?"
"Ain’t got none. Scairt - of potato bugs."
"Really, what did you plant?" pressed the stranger.
"Nothin’," was the calm reply, "I jest played safe."
APPLY: Why didn’t that farmer plant his crops? He was afraid. He was afraid of failure. He was afraid of the unknown. And maybe he was even afraid that the work of planting would be too hard for him. SO, he just didn’t plant anything.
There are many Christians who won’t talk to anyone else about their faith (seed of Jesus). They’re afraid. They’re afraid of failure & rejection. They’re afraid of the unknown. And maybe they’re afraid the work is too hard for them to do. They’re unsure and afraid… AND SO they just don’t.
HOWEVER, from what Jesus tells us here in Luke 8, Christians really don’t need to be unsure and afraid. The task of casting the seed of the Gospel isn’t difficult.
I. Think about it. Unlike Georgia farmer in our illustration, the farmer in Jesus’ parable was not in the least bit troubled.
Was Jesus’ farmer concerned about where his seeds landed? Noooo – he’s out there throwing the seed anywhere and everywhere he could. He didn’t even bother to plow up the ground (they didn’t in those days). We call it “no till” farming, but the people in that day called it… “farming.”
This farmer threw the seed on the weeds, on the foot-path beside his field, on shallow ground, and on the rich land. The seed landed everywhere.
He wasn’t particular where the seed landed because farmland was expensive and the seed was cheap. The way farmers of that day had it figured – you put good seed on good ground, you’d eventually get a good crop.
II. ALSO this farmer knew that the power in farming lay in that tiny little seed - not in him.
A farmer didn’t have to be particularly skilled to throw seed on the dirt. A 3 old could do this! But SOMEBODY had to throw the seed out there so that it would take root in the soil.
Paul tells me something like this when he says: ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ - How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:13-15)
What’s Paul saying? He’s saying somebody has to throw the seed of the gospel out there in order for people to hear, believe, and thus be saved. If we don’t throw the seed out there, nobody will be saved.
NOW remember - success in achieving a crop lays in the seed that we cast on the soil (that is: in our witness, or what we tell people about Jesus) not in us and our abilities.
ILLUS: A man who’d once been a skeptic told of how he became a Christian. He said that the church he’d been occasionally attending had begun to stress the importance of witnessing to people about Christ. One particularly slow young man in the congregation took the idea to heart. When this boy approached him the boy asked him if wanted to become a Christian. Almost rudely, he responded: "NO!"
The slow witted boy looked at him for a moment and then responded: "Well, then you can go to hell," and he turned away and left.
Because that “unskilled” – slow witted – boy was willing to throw out the seed, the man became a Christian.
III. Something else this parable tells us is: success in farming NOT ONLY depended on the seed… it depended on the soil.
ILLUS: (The following physical illustration is taken from “Heno Head’s Simple Science Object Talks.” If you decide use it, take note that you need to carefully measure out how much baking soda you use, and how much vinegar you place in each jar.
Since we have “Power Point” capability, we focused a video camera on the jars so that the audience could see the display overhead. I also acknowledge that my interpretation of Jesus’ parable isn’t as strict as it could be).