When a large crowd was coming together, and those from the various cities were journeying to Him, He spoke by way of a parable: “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. “Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. “Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. “Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”Luke 8:4-8
Now let’s compare the three different accounts of the Parable of the Sower to what that brings to light.
Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. A large crowd soon gathered around Him, so He got into a boat. Then He sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was a hundred, sixty, and thirty times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”Matthew 13:1-9
Once again Jesus began teaching by the lakeshore. A very large crowd soon gathered around Him, so He got into a boat. Then He sat in the boat while all the people remained on the shore. He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Then He said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”Mark 4:1-9
I have the coloured the Luke elements that are different from Matthew and Mark in green. The yellow segments are the differences from Matthew and Mark’s point of view. The orange segments are the differences between Matthew and Mark. Shared material is neutral / uncoloured.
Well this has turned up some interesting things. I am wondering if I should leave you with some time to ponder the significance of some of these things before I move on. But if I keep doing that we will not finish going through Luke’s gospel before Jesus’ return.
I commented on the changing prepositions in the previous Gem so I won’t add more to that, although more could be said. I commented also on some of the differences between the gospels in terms of the introduction to this story. I will add that it is Luke who tells us that the crowd who witness this event are not just a local crowd. It is like he continues the thread that has been building through his gospel related to the crowd which is becoming cumulative. Oh yes they went away while Jesus was in Nain and when Jesus and women set out for the next ministry phase suddenly the ubiquitous crowd are there again. Ever-present, ever-following but growing as they move from town to town. A large crowd gathered from various cities. What various cities? The ones Jesus has visited already. It is only my hunch and not derived from the text of the Bible, but I suspect when Jesus was on the move again the word quickly went out “He’s on the move again.” and the people came running.
It is Luke who mentions that the seed was trampled under foot. The other gospel writers don’t mention that. I commented last Gem on the difference between the field and the paths and the fact that some seed fell on the pathways. This has significance as we will see in the explanation. Note too Luke’s additional comment of the “birds of the air”. The other gospel writers just refer to birds but Luke specifically calls them the birds of the air. It seems superfluous to call them the birds of the air, they are not birds of the sea. All birds fly in the air. Luke’s use here seems to link more strongly to reference of birds of the air symbolizing satan and his cohorts. He is after all the prince of this world, the prince of the air, the lower stratosphere surrounding the earth. He has been permitted to rule for a short time in this sphere.
Matthew and Mark say the seed on the rocky ground didn’t survive because it didn’t have deep roots. While that is true to a degree, the underlying issue is the search for water. Luke is more technically correct. Some plants will develop a buttress root system outside the soil in the quest for water. The roots can travel a long way over the rocks in search of water. Other plants of course have sun sensitive roots and if scorched by the sun the plant will die. But the ultimate reason for a plant wilting is lack of water. It is the absence of moisture that ultimately causes the plant to wither. Is there an intended link here to the water of the Word in the terms of the parable? I am not sure but it may be intentional on Luke’s part. Ask him when you see him, I sure will.
Did you notice how similar Matthew and Mark’s text is for this story? It is almost word for word all the way along whereas Luke deviates in a number of places. Luke is not just sticking to the standard story (Mark). Luke is expressing his own take on the story. We will see even more so later when we look at his reordering of the pericopes. In this section there is far more green colouring than there is orange. In other words Matthew and Mark sticking together on the elements of the story whereas Luke is adding his little touches along the way. Luke also adds the intriguing comment – As He said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” suggesting as I said yesterday it was a refrain that was spoken a number of times. But I covered that in the previous Gem.
When we come to verse eight in all three accounts (Luke 8:8, Matthew 13:8 and Mark 4:8) we see something very interesting. I have only noticed it today as I have paid close attention to the text. I have never noticed it before.
In terms of the crop produced Luke says 100 fold. Matthew says 100, or 60 or 30 and Mark lists 30, 60 or 100. In other words Luke just settles for 100 fold. It is for sure he knew of the ascending order of Mark (30 > 60 > 100) and he was likely aware of Matthew’s descending string too ( 100 > 60 > 30) but he choses just to represent the yield as 100 fold. What is the significance of all this? This is all rather fascinating. So of course I will leave it to you to see what you can make of it. Having just found it myself I want some time to ponder it. So we will look at it tomorrow. There is bound to be something behind all of this – ah but what? Three different gospels and three different forms of this one element. 30 60 100 / 100 \ 100 60 30.
The ball is now in your court over night. Swat it back to me if you wish. You may have a take on it that you would like me to share with the Bible Gemmers. I will credit you with whatever you send in. I hope it will spark some banter between you all as we ponder this together.
Sow a thought and reap an act. Sow an act, and reap a habit. Sow a habit, and reap a character. Sow a character and reap a destiny.Spanish Proverb
Don’t stop sowing just because the birds ate a few seeds.Danish Proverb
If you are planning for a year sow rice; if you are planning for a decade plant trees; if you planning for a lifetime educate people.Chinese Proverb
Many spend the first six days of each week sewing wild oats; then we go to church on Sunday and pray for a crop failure.Fred Allen
The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.Bob Gass
A land of milk & honey requires cows & bees so you must deal with stuff & stings too!Anon