Luke 8:1-15 A Shallow Soil

Soon afterwards 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[a] 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. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 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.

A Shallow Soil

In the west, at least, there is so much to do and so many ways to avoid stillness.  Atheists and Christians are more thoughtless about their convictions.  Religion, for the atheist is a thing of contempt but for the religious person it is little more.  What about the unplugged?  What about those who realise the Kingdom of God is all-consuming and complete?  They are few.  Many people see only preachers and missionaries as working spiritual jobs.  Jesus calls us to be a blessing to all people in every area of our lives.  Jesus redeems the day-to-day and the Sunday best.  When people hear his call a good number respond but they balk at the life Jesus leads them into.

In our sharing of the gospel we have made the story of scripture more and more about a single decision to salvation.  However, the Bible itself doesn’t do that and Jesus definitely doesn’t.  He ploughs up the soil of people’s hearts by showing them their needs and showing his sufficiency.  He ploughs up the soil of people’s hearts by giving them a vision of the Father which is essential and compelling.  The Jesus we peddle at Summer camps and at gospel services is too insignificant and anemic to be compared to the man of Scripture.  We create shallow soil and then we complain when people leave as easily as they came.


Ebola virus.  Gaza strip.  Ukraine.  Moral ambiguity.  Lostness.  

The world needs a savior but it has accepted one already.  A good number of the world’s people think they know Jesus but it makes no difference to them.  Father, it is not always easy to believe.  It is sometimes easier not to think.  However, let us find Jesus in ways that we have never done before.


  1. How did women support Jesus?
  2. Why didn’t Jesus explain his parable to those who heard it?
  3. How are the meaning of the parable and Jesus’ lack of explanation connected?
  4. How has Jesus left you with something unexplained?
  5. Did it make you go deeper, or did you give up?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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