The Parable of the Soils (Luke 8:4-15)

What do starfish, ladybugs, tinfoil, Chinese checkers and dry cleaning have in common?  They’re all misnomers; wrongly tagged with a name that inaccurately describes them.  Starfish are not fish, ladybugs are not exclusively female, Chinese checkers are neither checkers nor Chinese in origin, and dry cleaning isn’t dry at all, it’s solvent based.  Yet we use these terms every day to describe these things despite the misnomer.

Our focal passage today is often misnamed or mischaracterized as well.  Granted the captions we have in our Bible today were added by editors who compiled the English translation you now use.  It may surprise some to know that the captions are not part of the original language texts used by the translators.  Just like the verse numbers, editors added the captions to help readers understand the broad themes and narratives of the text they are reading.  In most cases, the captions and/or section headings are helpful to the reader.  But sometimes, as is the case today, the traditional title or description given to a passage of Scripture can be confusing.

Our study today focuses on Luke 8:4-15, a story also recorded in Matthew 13:1-9 and Mark 4:1-9. And, if your Bible is like mine, all three passages are preceded by a section heading that says; “The Parable of the Sower.”  The story, or parable as it is often called, does indeed involve a sower who is casting seed.  However, it is not the sower nor the seed per se that Jesus focuses on in His explanation of the parable to His disciples; it is the soil.

In explaining the parable to His disciples, Jesus describes the different type of response or yield received when the seed fell on four different types of soil.  That’s why I argue that the traditional description of this passage is a misnomer.  It seems to me that it would be more accurately described as The Parable of the Soils, because it is the soils on which Jesus is most keenly focused in teaching His disciples about the various responses they will encounter as they spread the Good News and plant the seed that is the Word of God.

As we shall see together in this study, Jesus describes four different outcomes from planting the seed, which is the Word of God.  He describes some who hear as hard, shallow or crowded with no or little fruit resulting from the seed that was planted in them.  But then he describes others as fertile and fruitful and those who fall into that category practice what I call the 4H Fruit Production model, which according to Jesus yields fruit 100-fold.

What is the 4H Fruit Production model you ask, well you’ll have to join us for this study to find out.  If you just can’t wait or if you are unable to join us in person, please feel free to download the Bible study materials for your personal use by following one of these links: PowerPoint Slides, PDF File

For more information on this Bible study series please see Doubtless Living: The Gospel of Luke.