Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Steep Walk

Ninth Sunday After Pentecost
Luke 8:1-15, The Parable of the Sower

• Here we are, walking through the Gospel According to Luke. It is a blessing spending time in the word, like a bag of tea steeping in hot water. 
Challenge: read next week’s text every day (it’s Luke 8:16-25, or even just all of chapter 8). And don’t just read, but interact. Take notes, ask questions of the texts and ponder them. Discuss passage and notes with friend or family member, or email same or me. Improve next Sunday’s worship experience throughout the week by interacting with Word and disciples. Increase understanding and appreciation.

• One question you might ask: What is this parable about, really?

-Perhaps it’s about how to be effective soil, how best to receive God’s word: (nurture yourself as soil by maintaining right balance of water, air, nutrients, organics… God gives the word of life and you control how it lives in you… shape up!)

-Or is it judgment and/or warning about being poor soil? (shape up or ship out)

-Is it statement that there are poor soils and good? (statement that not all will receive the word and grow)

-Is it an illustration that disciples must dig for meaning, that disciples must invest some sweat equity, and that not all will be disciples?

• Reading & praying, I diagrammed the parable (in notebook… another way to interact with the text) and noticed how it’s a parable about the hearer’s heart. (verse 8:15 esp: 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.)

The question that continued to stick out to me was quotation from Isaiah 6:9-10 (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’… (catch that? Jesus tells parables in order that some won’t understand… so that J’s disciples will be ones who work for knowledge) 
That passage continues with God telling Isaiah: Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed. Conceal the truth… prevent understanding and repentance) God judges the people and Isaiah is commanded to warn them, though we’re even told they won’t heed. Do it anyway.

God gives a warning: there is danger ahead. Okay, we’re here, we’re facing a steep walk, there is danger and hurt in our future, yeah. 
But hold your head up, persevere undeterred, because God is interested in our RESPONSES to all manner of things. Do we respond with faith or with despair? Do we withdraw when challenged or trust in God and meet challenge?

• It’s a parable about heart and attitude, and God desiring doers not hearers only. Disciples gotta work it, be faithful without hope of reward. Jesus talks in parables to strengthen and prepare, to mature disciples rather than leave them weak. CS Lewis God wants us to walk therefore God is pleased with our stumbles.

• By the way, the Isaiah 6:9-10 warning, I notice, comes between Isaiah’s commission (I will go) and the sign of Immanuel God Is With Us… just as its placement in Luke 8 is between list of who will go and Jesus who is with us (but you’ll have to read ahead for that part).

• No matter what circumstances may be,
God is God (and we are not), and we are commissioned
Read the Word and interact with it. Let it be like tea infusing into you.
God wants fruit (maturity), the word is the seed… spread it liberally.

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.

• Closing Hymn 296: We’ve A Story to Tell to the Nations

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