by Rev Dr V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil
Devotional Thoughts for the First Sunday After Christmas
Theme: Instructions on how to hear the Word of God: "The Parable of the Sower"
Gospel: Parable of the Sower: (Luke 8:4-19)
4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 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. 6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 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. 9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 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. 11 This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 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. 13 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. 14 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. 15 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.
A Lamp on a Stand
16 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. 17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. 18 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.
In Jesus' day, lamps were made of clay. They were simple, with a reservoir of the oil and a "nozzle" on which the flax wick would rest. Household lamps were small enough to be carried in the palm of the hand.
The point of this parable is that when it is dark enough to light a lamp, you would set it high enough to illuminate everything around on a shelf or a stone of wall or a wooden lamp stand in the center of the room allowing 360 degree illumination.
Jesus has something very important to tell us in these passages in Luke 8.
1) Lamps aren't to be kept hidden. (8:16).
No one lights up a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, it is put on a stand so that those who come in can see the light." (8:16).
Jesus' statement may find funny but he says if you are going to light a lamp, do it for illuminating, not to hide or conceal it.
Jesus' lamp represents several things:
a) A true disciple is referred to as the "good soil" and the fruits that come out ofthe good soil are as good as the soil itself.
b) Jesus is the light of the world.
c) The Word is the truth concerning the Kingdom of God.
These ideas have been explored by various theologians. Here are some of their interpretations.
i) He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (8:8)
ii) Through hearing, some may not understand. (8:10)
iii) Those along the path are the one who hear some. (8:12)
iv) Those on the rock receive the word with joy when they hear it. (8:13)
v) The seed that fell among the thorns stands for those who hear the Word, but...." (8:15)
The clear theme of the parable of the soil is about hearing the Word of God. When Jesus is traveling from village to village to city "proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God" and where Jesus says that his true families are those who hear God's Word and do it." (8:21)
2) The light is the "Word of God."
If having the Word of God is the main theme in this part of the gospel, then the light of the lamp in 8:16 is the Word of God which is the message of the kingdom that Jesus has been proclaiming all over Galilee. Some will hear it but not understand. In other, the Word will see a little growth, and in still others the growth of the Word will be choked, but for some others, the Word will produce a crop of abundance, a changed life, and a fruitful ministry.
Jesus says that the message of the Kingdom of God must not be hidden or just whispered in secret. Rather it must be proclaimed publicly and clearly. Jesus says don't teach the message privately but proclaim it openly and publicly.
Several existing social conditions and time tested controversies had erected fences around this approach.
i) Fear of persecution is hinted in 8:13.
ii) Fear of expulsion from respectable community institutions, synagogues, are mentioned
iii) Fear of non-acceptance by the larger community;
iv) Fear of ridicule:
v) Fear that it will affect business and jobs.
Jesus says that in spite of all these obstacles, don't light a lamp and hide it. Rather place it where it can be seen and provide light for everyone in the house.
3) Nothing shall be hidden. (8:17).
In this verse, the sense is that "don't hide the message now because everything is to be revealed now. God's message is always open and we must make it known to all the people openly. Some people think when Christ returns, everything will be known. Indeed, that is true, but now is the right time to disclose and proclaim the wisdom of God that is revealed in Jesus Christ. That is the disciple's mission. The Word (the lamp) must be lit and not hidden, and set on high so all can see the light.
4) Listen Carefully:
Therefore consider to carefully listen now. Whoever has now will be given more; whoever does not have, although he thinks he has, will be taken from him. (8:18)
Jesus warns us about "hearing", because the danger of self deception is great. The seed that fell on the hard-packed soil of the path and bounced off is a close minded attitude of the Pharisees who thought they know better than anyone else and rejected God's purpose for themselves. Jesus says, "Consider carefully how you listen. Do not merely listen to the Word and deceive yourselves." Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. Those who go under the name "Christian" but haven't followed Jesus and put into practice his teachings will hear on the Day of Judgement, "I never knew you."
The lesson we learn today is that we must seriously apply our hearts to hear the gospel. If we do that, the wrong influences around us could cast out of us like a lightening. We will see sinners converted. We will see God work in us, with us, and in our midst, and the Word will be preached with its might pulling down the devils' strong holds on us.
Jesus has promised to be with us always, even to the end of the world. We will all appear before the judgement day before our Lord.
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