The Farmer or The four groups of people.
Luke chapter 8 verses 4–8
A large crowd came together. People came to Jesus from every town,
and he told them this story: “A farmer went out to sow seed. While he
was scattering the seed, some of it fell beside the road. People walked on
the seed, and the birds ate it all. Other seed fell on rock. It began to grow
but then died because it had no water. Some other seed fell among
thorny weeds. This seed grew, but later the weeds stopped the plants
from growing. The rest of the seed fell on good ground. This seed grew
and made 100 times more grain.”
This is a parable. What is a parable? It is a story about ordinary things in
the world, but the story has a spiritual meaning. This is one of the Lord
Jesus Christ’s most amazing parables. Why is it amazing? Because Jesus
teaches about four groups of people, and everyone is in these four groups
– no one is left out. Jesus includes the full human race – everyone is here,
in one of the groups. You are in one of the groups. As I preach I want you
to try and think – which group are you in?
We know what the parable means, because Jesus explains it himself.
Verse 11 “This is what the story means: The seed is God’s teaching....
The story starts with a farmer going into a field. He had a bag with seed in
it. He took seed from his bag and threw it on the field. The farmer can’t
make the seed. He threw it on the field, but he couldn’t make it. Only God
can make the seed. It’s the same with the Gospel: God gives the Gospel. I
can preach and explain the Gospel, but I haven’t thought of it for myself.
The Gospel is from God.
What is the Gospel? It is the way to find God, to know Him, and to join
His kingdom. The Gospel can change a person’s life and give good
character and spiritual life, and that person can be in God’s family. How
can I think of that for myself? Impossible. Only God can give us the
Gospel. The Gospel is like a seed. Only God can put the Gospel seed in the
heart of a man or woman. It’s a seed of life that will grow there, and
become like a strong feeling. What do we feel?
1. We feel our sin. We realise – we do many things that are wrong. We are
selfish and proud and full of lust. We realise the truth about ourselves.
2. We feel that we should seek the Lord Jesus, because He can save us and
forgive us. The Gospel will bring us to love Him, and know Him, and walk
with Him all our life, and then go with Him into Heaven.
The Gospel is from God. It’s important to understand that. I will explain.
Before the world was made, God saw us all, before we were born. He saw
our sin, and He knew He would have to punish us. He planned a way to
save us from our sin and bring us to Heaven. How? He sent the Lord
Jesus Christ. Who is He? The Son of God. God is in three people: God the
Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are all equal. God sent
His Son into this world at the proper time. He was born as a baby, and he
grew up to be a man, but He was God also. He suffered on the Cross and
died. God punished Him. Jesus never sinned, but God punished him.
Why? He was punished for other people. Many many people would trust
in Him. He died instead of them.
God decided that He would save people by grace, because it’s the only
way. Grace means that God helps us, because we can’t help ourselves. God
must save us. God knew that we could never earn His favour or His
blessing. We have no right, because we are sinners. The only way we can
be saved is to trust in Jesus Christ. He suffered for our sin. He was
judged, not us. Now we can pray to Him and He will give us new life and
salvation. It’s free because we could never earn it or be good enough,
because we are sinners.
God made the Gospel. No man could ever think of it. We think that we can
work hard and try our best, and go to Heaven. That’s wrong, we can do
nothing. How can we get into the Kingdom of God? We must be sorry for
our sin, and repent, and ask God to freely save us. God gives us the seed –
the seed is the Gospel.
Verse 5 A farmer went out to sow seed. While he was scattering the
seed, some of it fell beside the road. People walked on the seed, and the
birds ate it all.
I will explain what happened: The farmer went out to his field. He walked
on a path to his field. Many other farmers used that path, to go and work
in the fields. Maybe one side of the path was his field, and the other side
was his neighbour’s field. The farmer threw the seeds all over the field
right up to the path. But some seeds went on the path. The path was hard
because many people walked on the path, and it became hard. Also the
hot sun made it hard like stone. What happened to the seeds? They rolled
along the footpath and other farmers stepped on them. Many birds
followed the farmer, looking for seed. They saw the seeds on the path,
flew down and ate all the seeds.
This part of the story has a spiritual meaning. The Lord Jesus explained
what it means:
Verse 12 Some people are like the seed that fell beside the path. They
hear God’s teaching, but then the devil comes and causes them to stop
thinking about it. This keeps them from believing it and being saved.
Jesus was talking about a group of people who hear the Gospel. You may
be in this group. Maybe you are interested, but it won’t help you because
your heart is hard, like the path. The seed can’t make a root, and start to
grow. You don’t want to meet God or have your sins forgiven. You are not
afraid of what will happen in your life, or when you die, when you meet
God and He judges you. You are not interested enough to pray and ask for
your sins to be forgiven.
You may be very confident and say, “I can cope with my life thank you
very much. My life is fine, I don’t need God.” But you never think about
your soul or anything spiritual. You are not worried about eternity. You
think other things are more important. Many other things you can enjoy,
ambitions, parties, money, things you can have in the world – you are
interested in many things. But you are not interested in the Gospel.
Maybe you love many sins, and you’ve become very proud and your heart
has become hard. You say, “These preachers, they talk from the Bible,
they talk about our sin and we have to be humble and pray to the Lord. I
won’t do that.” You are proud and you’ve been influenced by the world, so
you want the world. You may be like the seed on the path.
What happened to the seeds on the path? The birds came and ate the
seeds. Means what?
Verse 12 They hear God’s teaching, but then the devil comes and causes
them to stop thinking about it. This keeps them from believing it and
The birds that eat the seeds are like the devil. Did you know there is a real
devil? Did you know the devil controls you? He controls your life and he
controls your mind, and he controls how you think. Like the birds – they
followed the farmer. They saw the seed on the path and they flew down
and quickly ate it. Same as the devil – when the devil sees you thinking
about the Gospel, he comes, and he will take it from your mind. He will
steal it away so you will never understand. He’s bullies you and tells you
what to believe and what to think.
Maybe you say, “No, I decide what I believe. I’m not a weak Christian
who has to rely on the Bible. No, I do what I want.” No, you are wrong,
you do what the devil wants. He will steal the Gospel from your mind so
you don’t think too much about spiritual things. Tomorrow you will forget
everything. You will watch the TV and forget about the Gospel. The world
will influence you again and the Gospel will be gone from your mind.
You are like a man who was very ill, and he went to the hospital. He sat
there and waited, and he started to think, “I’m not too bad, I feel much
better.” Really he was very ill, and he needed treatment quickly. But he
thought he’s not too bad and he could cope. So he stood up and walked
out. He went home, but before he arrived, he died. Like the seed on the
path. Maybe its like you. You say, “I don’t need the Gospel.” But if you stay
away from God, it will be very sad. He will not help you or bless you.
When you die, you will not go to Heaven, because you reject the Gospel.
The glorious Gospel of God’s mercy for you. You reject it. That’s awful.
That’s the first group of people that Jesus is talking about. Are you in this
group? You are hard and you don’t care and you are not interested. Is that
you? You should start to pray, and say, “Please Lord, make my heart soft
and help me to understand how much I need to be forgiven.” Ask Him
quickly. God is very kind. Maybe He will help you and save you, so you
can pull out of that group.
Verse 6 Other seed fell on rock. It began to grow but then died because
it had no water.
In Israel there are large flat rocks, named limestone, under the earth.
There is thin earth on top. Some earth is there, but the root can’t go down,
because of the rock. The seed can’t grow. Why was Jesus talking about
Verse 13 Other people are like the seed that fell on rock. That is like the
people who hear God’s teaching and gladly accept it. But they don’t have
deep roots. They believe for a while. But when trouble comes, they turn
away from God.
This is the second group of people. Maybe you are in this group. You
understand the Gospel, and you say, “I understand about eternity, I
understand what happens after death, because the Bible tells me about
Heaven and Hell.” Maybe you are like this person. Maybe you feel
ashamed of sin and your conscience hurts and you feel bad. You hear the
Gospel and you feel very happy. You’re happy to know that God will
forgive you and save you. You may pray very quickly and you may say,
“Yes, He is my Saviour and I love Him. I have become a Christian.”
Maybe your life has changed. You don’t sin so much, like before.
But there’s a problem. It will be for a short time, that’s all. You can’t stop
sinning for a long time. Why? Because your heart is hard, underneath.
The seed has a small root but it’s stopped. It can’t go down deep because
there is a rock there. You are not a Christian really. You will be tested.
1. Your friends may laugh at you, going to church and talking about God.
2. You realise it’s hard to be different for Jesus.
3. You realise you have to give up some sins that you love.
4. You may think, “Going to church hasn’t helped me very much.”
So you change your mind. Why did you fail so quickly? Because the rock is
under the earth. The root can’t go down. There is some change on the
outside, but inside you haven’t changed – you are not saved. You didn’t
realise how serious your sin is, and how much you need to be forgiven.
You didn’t realise how bad you are, and how selfish you are. It’s not just
my sins that are bad – No, I am a sinner. But you didn’t realise that. Also
you didn’t realise that God is perfect and holy. He has to punish all sin,
but you didn’t understand. There’s no root and no spiritual life. You don’t
really know God.
True Christians really know Him and they can really pray to Him and they
know He hears and He answers and helps them. He changes their lives,
and He gives them strength. But there is a problem with you. You don’t
have those things. You are not really saved. You have to repent truly and
be sorry for your sin. You have to pray and pray, and don’t give up until
you know your life has been changed and that God has saved you.
I want to ask you a question – Maybe you are in this group. You have
prayed to the Lord and you said you became a Christian, but its not a deep
experience. There’s no big change inside you. Is that you? Pray to God and
ask Him to help you. Ask Him to make it clear. Ask Him to change you
and make you a different person, so the Gospel seed can go deep into your
heart. Pray and say, “I will repent and give up all my sins, please change
me. My heart is hard underneath. Please give me a new heart.”
Verse 7 Some other seed fell among thorny weeds. This seed grew, but
later the weeds stopped the plants from growing.
The seeds quickly make roots and grow up, but in the earth around there
is a problem. It’s not a rock, but the earth is full of weeds, with thorns.
The farmer couldn’t see the weeds before, when he threw the seeds on the
earth, but the weeds were there in the earth. The seeds grow up, but all
the weeds and thorns grow up with them, and they are more powerful
than the seeds and they choke them. Why did Jesus teach about that?
Verse 14 What about the seed that fell among the thorny weeds? That is
like the people who hear God’s teaching, but they let the worries, riches,
and pleasures of this life stop them from growing. So they never produce
This is group number three. Maybe you are in this group. This group is
better than the other two groups. The people in this group understand
much more. They understand that God must forgive them. They
understand they need a new life. They realise they have to be changed.
They feel strongly aware of eternity, and they feel they are being honest
Maybe people in this group have been disappointed by many things in the
world. They believe that Jesus came to suffer on the Cross and be
punished for the sin of other people. They understand clearly and they
say, “I believe I have been saved.” Then they start the Christian life.
Everything is going OK.
But a problem happens. Like the weeds that choke the seeds – they let the
worries and the riches, and the pleasures of this life stop them from
growing. Maybe you are in this group.
Something is wrong. You are not truly saved. Something is missing.
What? You have trusted in Jesus, but never really obeyed His rule. Means
what? True Christians pray to God and say, “Lord I want a new life. I will
not decide what to do – I will do what You want, I will obey Your Word
You didn’t say that. You believed, and you were sorry for your sins, yes.
But you didn’t obey God properly. You wanted to decide what to do in
your life for yourself. You have not changed really – you are not really
saved. The weeds came. The things of this world choked any spiritual life.
I want to ask you a question – Maybe you are in this group. You
understand and you want to be a Christian, and go to Heaven, but you will
not bow to Him and give Him your life. You want to be a Christian and
not a Christian at the same time. You want to be in His Kingdom and in
the world at the same time. If that is true, God won’t hear your prayer and
He won’t save you. He won’t change you. Maybe you will think
sometimes, “Yes, I am a Christian.” But it will be clear – you love the
things of the world and your old life – more than you love the spiritual
life. You never were a Christian. You only thought you were.
If you think you are in this group then pray to God, and say, “God help me
bow to You and give my life to You. Help me to leave the old life and fully
trust in Jesus.” Pray to Him so He will save you from that group.
Verse 8 The rest of the seed fell on good ground. This seed grew and
made 100 times more grain.”
The farmer walked along the field, throwing the seed from his bag. The
seed fell on good ground. Jesus explained about the good ground in verse
Verse 15 And what about the seed that fell on the good ground? That is
like the people who hear God’s teaching with a good, honest heart. They
obey it and patiently produce a good crop.
If you really want to be saved and you really understand that you need to
be forgiven, because you are a sinner, and you are ready to give your life
to Him, and obey His Word the Bible, then you are in this group. You
must ask God to help you. He will answer your prayer and bless you and
I will summarise:
1. Don’t be like the hard path – Don’t have a hard heart. Pray and ask God
to help you understand that you need a soft heart.
2. Don’t be like the rocky ground. Ask God to make you aware how sinful
you are and how much you need to be forgiven.
3. Don’t be like the thorny ground. – Not ready to give up the old life and
bow to God. Ask God to help you understand the Gospel and repent
properly and have real faith.
4. Trust only in what Jesus has done on the cross and have faith in God.
Leave the world, and trust Him. If you pray to God honestly, He will bless
you and save you. Give yourself to Him and you will have fruit for Him.
He will change you, and you will have spiritual life and communion with
Him. He will change you and you will know that you are His and He’ll
help you all the way through life and He’ll bring you to be with Him in
Ask God to help you be in the right group: Number four, and He will.
May the Lord bless us all.
Dr Peter Masters
Modified 7th October 2006