"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." (Luke 8:5-8)Jesus also described to his disciples the need for speaking in parables:
"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.'" (Luke 8:10)The parable above has been reviewed in detail, and why it wasn't well understood with the verses above.
What remains to be discussed regarding this parable is the thrust of it - something that sectarian teachers over the last 1700 years have seemed to virtually ignore: The importance of Jesus' teachings.
"The seed is the word of God."
This is the subject matter of this entire parable and discussion. If we look at the text surrounding the one quoted above, we find that a full 21 verses in Luke's Chapter 8 are dedicated to the importance of Jesus' teachings. These begin with:
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. (Luke 8:1)to:
He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice." (Luke 8:21)We find these verses and all of the text between these two verses discussing the importance Jesus put upon his teachings. In Luke 8:1 we find that Jesus' travels were not about healing people from their various sicknesses. Jesus' travels were not about expelling demons from people. And Jesus' mission was not about dying for people's sins.
And while many purport that these were the central elements of Jesus' mission, this is not supported by the scriptures nor Jesus' specific statements.
Rather, the scriptures state specifically - such as in Luke 8:1 - that his mission was related to "proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God."
And Jesus' parable is focused upon the "word of God."
And Jesus' statement about who his real mother and brothers are - "those who hear God's word and put it into practice" - focuses us even further not only upon Jesus' mission - but what we need to be doing in order to be pleasing to Jesus: putting his teachings into practice.
Notice also in this statement Jesus says clearly that "saving" a person directly relates not to Jesus' dying on the cross, but rather to their hearing and acting upon "the word of God":
".... and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved."
What is the "word of God"?
The phrase "word of God" is actually a mistranslation. The phrase is derived from the Greek phrase λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ. The word θεοῦ (theos) refers to God - the Supreme Being. The word τοῦ means "of." And the word λόγος (logos) can certainly mean "word," but its more practical and more utilized meaning is "teaching" or "doctrine" or "discourse" according to the lexicon.
So the correct translation of this phrase, λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ would not be the "word of God," it would be:
"The teachings of God."
This phrase has various angles and nuances, but there is a critical message within this phrase. We are talking about the teachings that are coming from God. Consider these statements by Jesus:
"My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me." (John 7:16)
"For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken." (John 12:49)
"These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." (John 14:24)It is clear from these statements that Jesus' teachings are coming not from Jesus, but from God. This illustrates two important things:
1) That Jesus is not God. "My teaching is not my own." "These words you hear are not my own;" "For I did not speak on my own..." All of these statements say the same thing: Since his teachings are not coming from him but are coming from God, Jesus cannot be God, as taught by many sectarian teachings.
2) Jesus' teachings are coming from God. This would effectively make Jesus a messenger. "It comes from the One who sent me;" "but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken;" and "they belong to the Father who sent me" all clarify that not only do Jesus' teachings come not from him but from God, but that Jesus' is a messenger. Anyone who is "sent" and also passes along the "words" or "statements" or "teachings" that come from someone else is quite clearly the messenger of that person.
So what is the big deal about Jesus being God's messenger? This opposes the very fundamental position given to Jesus by the Nicene Creed - the set of principles laid out by the politically-oriented council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., from which just about every current sectarian doctrine is based upon.
The Nicene Creed has provided the foundation for how the modern sectarian institutions all identify Jesus - as God - or at least a part of the "trinity" of God: "God, the Son and the Holy Spirit."
The Nicene Creed is a product of a council of people that were hand-picked by the Roman Emperor Constantine. The motivation behind the council was to organize the peoples of Europe and the Middle East under the auspices of a single religious sect.
Even though the Romans had slaughtered millions of early Christians over the previous 300 years, they had the gall to then attempt to organize it under a single banner - which became the Roman Catholic Church (notice the "Roman" in the name).
It wasn't as if the idea of Jesus being God - or one of the trinity of God - was a unanimous decision by those appointed by Constantine to the Council of Nicaea. In fact, this notion was hotly debated during their gatherings, and some of the most respected teachers of that day fought against such a thesis.
They understood Jesus as God's messenger, and understood more clearly the words of Jesus as we illustrate above. But Constantine was a big proponent of this position because he saw the political advantage of making Jesus out to be part of God.
The Romans and polytheism
In fact, this notion of worshiping multiple "gods" was inherent in the Roman culture. They had a history of worshiping the various "gods," similar to the Greek "gods." They did not accept a single Supreme Being, but rather, a community of demi-gods as being supreme.
And this concept carried over to the Roman-sanctioned Nicene Creed, where the idea of a Supreme Being - something that Jesus taught exclusively - became diluted by this concept of a "trinity."
As if God was not a single being, but a combination of three beings.
This diametrically opposes every statement Jesus made: Every prayer: Every activity. Jesus' entire life and mission was dedicated to serving A SINGLE PERSON: The Supreme Being.
What about the Trinity?
Yes, we can accept that God has different vehicles from which he can reach out to us. He can certainly reach out to us through His representative - Jesus and other representatives of God such as Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Joshua, Eli, Samuel, David, Solomon, Job and others.
And yes, God can certainly reach out to each of us individually through our hearts - described by Jesus as the "Holy Spirit." But these in no way dilute God's individuality and the fact that He is a Person.
These are merely His broadcasting vehicles, just as a newscaster may broadcast the news through a television station but that newscaster does not become all the images in millions of televisions. He remains an individual.
In fact, those who do not know God like to dilute Him into an impersonal thing. Some will say that "God is love," or "God is everything." Others might even say that we are all God. Still others say that God is some kind of void - everything but nothing.
All of this is quite simply nonsense. Jesus specifically said his teachings did not come from himself, but from God. This means that they cam from an individual separate from Jesus. If we are all God, then certainly Jesus would not have said this.
And those who claim that God is everywhere or we are God quite simply do not know God. They do not know the individual of God.
Jesus spoke of an individual being - God. Jesus spoke of loving God and doing God's will:
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me. (John 6:38)
Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, "Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but He who sent me is true. You do not know Him," (John 7:28)
"If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me." (John 8:42)These statements clarify that Jesus accepted God as a Person: An individual being. Someone who Jesus knew personally and others did not: "You do not know Him" specifically indicates that knowing who God is is critical to Jesus' mission.
Knowing who God is is also required in order to love God - Jesus' most important teaching. We cannot love a vague impersonal force. We can only love someone we know.
We also see in the verses above that Jesus emphasized doing God's will. Doing God's will means serving God. Only a person can have a will. A vague impersonal force or everything cannot have a will. Only an individual with a will that may be different from our own can have such a will that Jesus is speaking of. This is why Jesus emphasizes that: "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me."
This distinguishes Jesus' will from God's will. It says that instead of doing his own will, Jesus is doing God's will.
And therein lies the understanding to the oft-misquoted statement (and only statement) that many people rely upon when they claim that Jesus is God:
"I and the Father are one." (John 10:30)
This is misinterpreted and mis-translated.
Now when someone is doing the will of another - they are united by that will. There becomes a oneness between them - not that they become the same person. But because one is doing the will of the other, there is a oneness.
We see this type of oneness every day. When the wife and the husband act together - with the same objectives - we say they are one. This is why one spouse can typically sign for the other, or one of their signatures is as good as both in many circumstances. The world sees them as one - they have a oneness of purpose and will. But they do not become the same person.
Similarly, when an employee carries out the orders of his boss, that employee has a oneness with his boss. The company is acting as a unit. And the boss and the employee have a oneness of purpose and will (although this is indented - they are both being paid to have the same will - but this is what forms one company).
The bottom line is that Jesus never referred to God as anything else but an individual: Someone we can know. Someone we can serve. Someone we can love.
In fact, these three elements: Coming to know God; Coming to serve God; and Coming to love God - make up the essence of Jesus' teachings: "the word of God." Jesus described who God is, what pleases Him, and how to love Him.
Now let's put it together. What is this saying? Jesus is saying that his teachings are coming from God and that passing these teachings to others is God's will and Jesus is doing God's will.
This means that God wants us to come to know Him. God wants us to learn to serve Him. God wants us to come to love Him.
Why? Does God need us? Does He need everyone to be focused on Him?
Certainly not. Otherwise, we would all be forced to focus on Him. We would not be allowed to think God is an impersonal force or everywhere or nowhere. We would not be allowed to completely reject God's existence as atheists do. If God needed us, He could certainly force us to be focused upon Him. He could force us to serve Him and do His will.
But He doesn't. He leaves these matters up to us. We get the choice to believe in His existence or not. We get the choice to serve Him or not. We get the choice to love Him or not. Freedom, in fact, is required for love. We must have the freedom to love or not in order to love.
In fact, the very reason we cannot see God within the physical world with our physical eyes is because we have chosen not to see God. At some point in each of our pasts, we have rejected God and said we wanted to get away from Him.
So God created the physical world and these temporary physical bodies for each of us (spirit-persons) to dwell within, and effectively not be able to see Him. These bodies were designed specifically for not seeing God. They were designed to allow us to not see Him. And this of course, gives us the ability to say stuff like: "If there is a God then why can't I see Him?"
God is hiding from us
Actually, it is God who is hiding from us. He created these physical bodies with physical eyes that have no ability to see into the spiritual realm - that place where He dwells personally.
We might compare this to a video game. Let's say we wanted to take a break from our job and our boss at work. So we sit down at our computer and begin playing a video game. By playing the game, we effectively get to escape the work environment while we focus on winning some points within the virtual reality of the video game.
Now what if the boss was able to tinker with our video game one night and make it so when we played the game, the boss was in the game telling us what to do just like he does at work. Would we still want to play that game in order to take a break from work?
Certainly not. If the boss was in the game it would destroy the entire illusion the video game brought us - allowing us to escape the reality of work for a few minutes.
This can be comparable to the physical world, except that God specifically took Himself out of the virtual reality of the physical world - because we had indicated to Him at some point in our past that we wanted to get away from Him. (Though there are still gentle reminders of His existence all around us.)
You see, God is not like our boss at work. God is a loving Person. He cares about us. He wants us to be happy. He doesn't need us. He has plenty of other playmates and pastimes - He doesn't need us.
But He wants us to be happy. He created us to exchange a loving relationship with Him. This is our constitution - our nature. So only this can truly make us happy. Only when we are loving Him and serving Him can we be happy, and He knows this.
So even though He gave us our freedom within this physical world to ignore Him for awhile - He won't let us go. If He wanted, He could let us forget Him for the rest of our existence. We could continue to be lonely and empty inside (even if we are surrounded by people) forever if He wanted it.
But He wants us to come home to Him because He knows that will make us happy. He wants us to be happy. He knows that when we are loving Him and serving Him out of love, we will be happy.
Just consider what people strive so hard for in order to achieve happiness in the physical world: We seek happiness by finding a loving mate. Or by becoming famous. Or by having a big family. Each of these things are considered finding happiness (as most reject the concept that money brings happiness) because they are related to our natural position of loving someone, being loved by someone and caring about and serving someone.
We each want to love and be loved. We each want to serve our beloved. These are considered finding happiness because this is who we are within: We are lovers by nature. We thrive off love. God made us to love and to be loved. So we need this.
Yet we are always disappointed with the "loves" we find here in the physical world. We might love a person, and they break up with us or divorce us or die on us. We might love our children and they run off on us when they get older. We might love our parents but then they get old and die. None of the loves of this world last. We are always left behind or we leave them behind.
And what happens when our "loves" leave or die? We get sad. We feel lonely.
This simply indicates that we need to love someone permanent. Someone who will never leave us. Someone who will stick with us through thick and thin and always forgive us even if we really mess things up. Someone who will not die on us or divorce us.
This is God. The Supreme Being. The Supreme Person. He is that perfect person we are looking to love and to love us unconditionally. He is that gracious person who will never let us down. Who will always be there for us. Who will never die on us or divorce us or run off.
And while God does not need us - we need God. This is the person we need to love and serve, or we remain empty and lonely - despite our big family or adoring fans.
This is why God sent Jesus to re-introduce us to Him. This is why Jesus' most important teaching (the "word of God") was:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)Thus we find the true trinity is God's outreach system. He allows us to come to know Him through His representative, through scripture (the "word of God") and through the Holy Spirit - His personal expansion right next to each of us.
This outreach process of God is why Jesus wanted his disciples to retain his teachings (the "seed") and pass those teachings on to others ("produce a crop"):
"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."