Luke 8: 1 – 15
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
Note the women supporting Jesus and the disciples out of their own means. They clearly were all in when it came to following him! Note also the key difference between how Jesus related to his disciples and to the crowds that came out to see him. Only the disciples got the keys to the kingdom, only they were told the meaning of the parables, only they were told how to access Abba, our loving creator who dotes on each one of his children, only they were told to love one another as I have loved you, only they were given the Lord’s supper to do in remembrance of him. This is why it is so confusing now. When Christianity became state religion, synagogue style or even temple style in its worship, then all manner of people were being routinely exposed to the teachings reserved for the disciples, for those who have given up all to follow him.
Consider the lot today of “those of a noble and good heart who hear the word, retain it and by persevering produce a crop.” It is confusing for those who feel strong devotion towards God, those whose hearts receive the word and are moved to act on it. The model of how to live is all mixed up now and they often end up feeling like they should be becoming Pharisees – those in charge of Sunday worship and of the communicating the faith to the “great unwashed”.
Lord Holy Spirit, give us humble followers of Jesus clarity as to what our calling is today, how it is that you are calling us individually and corporately to follow you. May your word take root in our hearts and please give us the grace and wisdom to persevere on our transformational path. Amen and amen!
Noon Day Prayers Question
Once upon a time, not so long ago, we lived in Christendom as we supposed it to be. When the whole society was the kingdom of God, then vocations were not just for professionalized clergy, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, but for teachers, doctors, nurses, even bureaucrats. As people felt a calling they responded in their choice of occupation or ministry. But those who left everything to follow Jesus typically became monks and nuns, though of course many others did as well for different reasons.
If God has chosen you to be a follower of Jesus, what has he chosen you to do? How is God’s grace manifesting in your life and work? What does it mean in your day to day life for you to be a follower of Jesus?
Luke 8: 16-21
“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”
Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
Of course Jesus did make time for his mother and brothers, but his teaching point was simple. Those who are most closely bound to Jesus are his followers, those who have reconnected with his heavenly Abba, brothers and sisters of his who are working beside him to bring others into his kin-dom of awakened souls. We also know what it is for our friends to sometimes be closer to us than our own family members, though this does not necessarily mean we do not love and respect the latter. Rather, it is those of like mind whom we rely on in our lives to share our passions and work together on what is important to us. Sometimes they become more like brothers and sisters to us than our own flesh and blood. In like manner, let us aspire to become brothers and sisters of Jesus, sharing in his passions and loving with his heart.
Heavenly Father, dear Abba, give us grace that we might find ourselves more and more caring about what Jesus cared about, what you have cared about all along. Give us grace to have a heart of compassion for those who are marginalized and are suffering, a heart to see Jesus’ face in the face of one who needs mercy and compassion. Give us grace as well to be a blessing and blessed in the company of others who have become children of yours in heart and deed, that together we might become lights shining clearly where everyone can see our good works and glorify our father in heaven. Lord Holy Spirit, guide us into all truth, that we may see clearly, that your word may penetrate to the deepest parts of who we are, that we might be transformed and full of your grace, that we might clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, this day and always! Amen.