Gardens to Graves
by Tramell Ferguson
September 27, 2020
In Isaiah 5, God compares the people of Israel to a vineyard. He says that He as the vinedresser, and they were the field. He came and he tilled the ground, he plucked out the stones, and planted the best grapevine possible. He built watchtowers and fences to keep the animals and enemies at bay, and He tended and cared for that vineyard expecting it to bring forth good grapes. But despite all His hard work and labor, the field only brought forth wild, small, bitter grapes. And so, God lets His vineyard be destroyed. He takes down the hedges. He allows the vine to be burned. He tears down the wall and allows the field to be trampled underfoot. He does not prune the vine, nor does He till the ground. He allows the briars and thorns to grow up and choke the vine, and He keeps the rain from watering it. The vineyard becomes wasteland.
This picture from Isaiah 5 is picked up by Jesus in Luke 8 with the parable of the four soils. Everybody who has gardens, or fields knows that there is good soil and bad soil in every garden and in every field. But the best gardens, the best fields, are those with the best soil. And this is ever farmer’s goal – to get the best soil into his field. If he has a field with bad soil, it requires a lot of work and effort to make it good soil.
Today is week 4 of our series Journey with Jesus, part 2 the calling so let’s take a quick recap Week 1 was Jesus calling his disciples to follow him, and we talked about how we must follow Jesus ourselves. Week 2 we talked about the loving our enemies and replacing our foundations. And then last week, Week 3 we saw Jesus heal people, and bring them back to life. And today we join Jesus as he tells a parable to his disciples about sowing seeds in the ground. So, let us sit with Jesus, and let us learn about this parable.
[Read Verse 4] Jesus often taught in Large groups, but he also taught in small groups, but on this occasion a large group has come from every city to hear him speak, and so he tells them this parable. You see the idea behind the word parable is to throw along side of. It is a story thrown alongside the truth intended to teach. Parables are often called “Earthly stories with a heavenly meaning.”
[Read Verse 5] Jesus spoke according to the agricultural customs of his day. In those days seed was scattered first and then it was plowed into the ground. For the most part, you didn’t know the quality of the ground until after the sowing.
[Read Verse 6] on the rock was where soil was thin, on this ground the seed sprang up quickly because of the warmth of the soil but the seed was unable to take root because of the rocky shelf. [Read Verse 7] the next seed fell on thorns, the soil was fertile maybe a little too fertile, because thorns grew there as well as grain. But what happens here is the thorns choked out the good soil. [Read Verse 8] some fell on good ground now this soil is both fertile and weed free. A good crop is coming out of this soil, and then it says Yielded a hundred-fold. Basically, means it increased what was sown. “He who has ears to hear, let them hear” – this is not a call for all to listen. Rather it was a call for those who were spiritually sensitive to take note. This is where Jesus explains the purpose of the parables. [Read Verse 9] The meaning of this parable wasn’t immediately obvious to the disciples. Jesus’s use of the parables wasn’t as easy as simple illustrations of spiritual truth. [Read Verse 10] As Jesus used them, parables were more like puzzles or riddles than illustrations. But often others were taught in parables. “seeing they may not see and hearing they may not understand.” – This passage is a quote from Isaiah 6:9. Jesus explained that his parables were not just illustrations making difficult things clear to all who heard. They were a way of presenting God’s word to everyone. [Read Verse 11] Jesus likened the word of God to a seed, the word of God both written and spoken. You see, a seed has enormous power in itself for the generation of life and usefulness, if it is received or in our case planted in the right conditions. [Read Verse 12] This shows the Devil’s purpose, the devil knows that faith and salvation come to people who hear the word of God. He works hard to keep salvation and spiritual strength from those who might otherwise hear to good effect. You see, knowing Satan’s strategy gives some wisdom to us if we will receive it. That if a heart does stay in contact with the word of God, there is a good chance that repentance and faith will come forth.
[ Read Verse 13] They had good seed, they had a warm environment, they had a joyful reception of the word, and they received it eagerly. They believed it when things were working for them, but when times got tough, they stopped believing. How was your walk with God, when Covid happened? Did it become harder to believe in God? [Read Verse 14] This soil represents fertile ground for the word, but the soil is too fertile, because instead of focusing on the word of God, it’s too busy caring about the cares, and riches, and pleasures of this world. When Covid happened everything stopped? Job’s shut down. People wondered where the rent money was going to come from, where their next meal was going come from? Did we really focus on God, and trust him or trust ourselves? [Read Verse 15] he says bear fruit with patience. This is what we want, right? This is what a farmer wants to see, and this is what we want, we want to see this grow in us. We can be like all four types of soil on any given day. We can be on the path; we allow the word no room at all in our lives. Or we could be on the rock we get all excited for the word, but we burn out, then sometimes we land on the thorns. We let the world, and everything else threaten to choke out God’s word, and all the fruit we could bear. And then others of us land on good ground and we bear fruit in our lives.
We notice that the difference in each was the soil. The sower drops the same seed, but it lands in different places. This begs the question for us. What kind of soil are we? How can we prepare our hearts, and minds to be the right kind of soil? This parable invites action so that we can receive the word of God and get the full benefits. Our second Scripture Lesson is the same chapter, chapter 8 but we just move over to verse 26-39. [ Read Verse 26 & 27] So to set the scene Jesus, and the disciples are on the eastern side of the sea of Galilee, and they meet a man, who not only is demon possessed, but naked, and outcast. This man didn’t start out this way, he was used to being among people. But the people of the city have bound him in chains, to keep him from hurting people. [Read Verse 28 & 29] This was the demonic spirit within the possessed man, not the man himself. (Demons have the same goal in the lives of Christians) to wreck the image of God. He says, “I beg you, do not torment me!” This is an ironic statement because the man was constantly tormented by demons overwhelming him in his body. Yet he thought that Jesus would torment him. [Read Verse 30] Jesus had to know the name of the demon in order to gain authority over it. But Jesus doesn’t use his name, he already had the authority.
The demon says my name is Legion, Jesus wanted to know the full extent of the problem.
[ Read Verse 31] They didn’t want to leave; they didn’t want to go to the bottomless pit. [ Read Verse 32-34] Since a demon can’t enter a pig without being sent by God, how much power do you think we have, being children of God? [Read Verse 35] They were afraid they were more afraid of a free man than a possessed man, and this man was no longer a threat, he was where we all should be: sitting at the feet of Jesus. [ Read Verse 36,37,38] It’s something about when Jesus starts working in our lives, we get so excited, and you can’t wait to share that good news with everyone. That is our goal: to share the love of Jesus with the world. To show them and tell them what Jesus has saved us from. [Read Verse 39] Jesus says go home and tell everyone about what Jesus has done for you. That’s the key, to be willing and able to tell people just how good Jesus is, and has been in our lives.
The Good news this morning is that Jesus tends the gardens of our lives, he takes us out of the grave, and plants us in his garden, so grow in good soil.
Which jumps us into the Application, and I only have one:
Go tell people about Jesus. What kind of soil where you before Jesus showed up in your life, and transformed you? What thing did you have in your life that took over life? But then Jesus showed up in your life and called it out. So, go and tell your story to people, tell them of transformation Jesus, did for you, and lead them to Jesus. Jesus calls us to examine our hearts, and come out of the grave, and walk into his fullness, and light.
Jesus has planted us in his garden, how we rise is up to us, how is the soil in your heart?