Asked for It 2005 - Part 3
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
August 21, 2005
Main Passage: Luke
Today we’re continuing
with our You Asked For It message series. Through the month of August,
and even into September this year, I’m speaking on topics or passages
specifically requested by you. And today I’ve been asked to speak on
what at first glance can be a confusing verse in the Bible… Luke 8:17.
In the New International Version, this is what it says…
Luke 8:17 (NIV)
“For there is nothing hidden that will not
be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought
out into the open.”
It sounds like a puzzle, doesn’t it? Sounds like Jesus should have
started that sentence with “Riddle me this…” What is He talking about
here? What does He mean? Well, it may interest you to know that this is
not the only time when Jesus said this. A few chapters later, in Luke
12:2, Jesus said…
Luke 12:2 (NIV)
“There is nothing concealed that will not be
disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.”
He’s saying pretty much the same words in both cases. Does He mean the
same thing? Well, let me explain something about reading the Bible.
When you’re reading the Bible and you’re trying to understand a
particular verse, you can never take it out of the context in which
it’s found. (Well, you can, but you shouldn’t.) That means when you
come to a verse you don’t really understand, read the verses leading up
to it… read the verses following it… and then see if you can understand
the verse in the light of the surrounding verses. You can never
interpret a verse to mean something that goes against the context in
which it’s found, or that goes against the whole of Scripture. Get it?
Okay, let’s take a closer look at that verse in Luke 12:2. And really
all we have to do to understand this verse in context is to read the
verse immediately before it and the verse immediately after it. Let’s
look at it again, this time in the New Living Translation…
Luke 12:1-2 (NLT)
Jesus turned first to his disciples and
warned them, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees—beware of their
hypocrisy. The time is coming when everything will be revealed; all
that is secret will be made public. Whatever you have said in the dark
will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed
doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!”
So what’s the context? Jesus is talking about the hypocrisy found in
the lives of the religious leaders of the day. They had fooled many
people into following them and believing in them, and Jesus warns His
disciples not to be taken in by them. And then he explains that someday
all their hypocrisy will be brought out into the open. The things they
thought they’d be able to get away with, they’re not going to get away
with anymore. That’s the context of what He’s saying… He’s warning His
disciples not to be fooled by the Pharisees and not to become
hypocrites themselves. That’s a pretty clear understanding once you
look at the context.
So how about the verse in Luke 8:17? That’s the verse we’re really
looking at this morning, so is Jesus saying the same thing here? When
Luke 8:17 (NIV)
For there is nothing hidden that will not be
disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out
into the open.
…is He talking about hypocrisy? Well, I would say “No”, because I’ve
already looked at the context. So before we talk about this verse
anymore, we need to look at the first part of this chapter. And then
we’ll come back to this verse later on. Okay?
Bev already read the first part of this chapter for us. As she read, we
saw how Jesus was telling one of His stories… what we call His
parables. He starts by telling us there’s a farmer who goes out to
plant his seeds. Now, farming in His day was a little different than it
is today. Today, we get nice long rows and the seeds are planted
systematically at regular intervals in these rows. In Jesus’ day, when
a farmer would plant seeds, he wouldn’t be concerned about planting
everything in neat little rows. In fact, he would scatter the seeds
everywhere. He would go out and throw the seeds onto different sections
of his field. He’d have kind of a footpath going through the field
where he would walk, and he’s throw the seeds on both sides of him,
trying to cover as much area as possible.
Now, what would happen? Most of the seeds would land in the nicely
tilled soil. But there would be seeds that would also fall onto the
footpath itself, or onto shallow, rocky soil, or even into some thorns
So while Jesus was telling this story about a farmer planting his
seeds, He explained that the seeds that fell onto the footpath would be
either trampled under foot or eaten up by birds. The seeds that fell
onto the shallow, rocky soil, would begin to grow, but because their
roots couldn’t go very deep they would be exposed to the hot mid-day
sun, shrivel up, and die from lack of moisture. The seeds that fell
among the thorns would start to grow, too, but thorns and weeds grow
much faster than vegetable plants and before long the thorns and weeds
would choke the life out of the other plant.
What’s He getting at here? What do these different types of soil
represent? Let’s go through them one by one…
Four Types of Soil:
(from Jesus’ Parable of the Sower in Luke 8)
A. The footpath
represents those whose hearts are hardened to the message of Jesus.
Jesus explained it this
Luke 8:12 (NLT)
“The seed that fell on the hard path
represents those who hear the message, but then the Devil comes and
steals it away and prevents them from believing and being saved.”
We were over at Chris and Rosita’s for a bonfire the other night, and
while we were there we were able to look at their gardens. And let me
tell you, they’ve done a great job with their garden. In fact, if you
were at the Pool Party last weekend, you know that Rosita brought
grocery bags full of excess vegetables that they just didn’t have a use
for. So she brought them to give them away.
[Turn to Chris and Rosita] Now, I know that you’ve put a lot of work
into your garden… preparing the soil, planting the seeds, watering it,
weeding it, tending to it… But can you imagine what kind of garden you
would have if you planted your seeds in your driveway? I don’t thing
you would have seen quite the same results. In fact, you might be
coming to us for veggies!
Same person planting the seeds… same seeds… what’s the difference? It’s
the soil! The only variable would be the soil. Good seeds planted in
good soil will grow… the same seeds planted on a driveway, or a trodden
down footpath, won’t grow. They won’t be able to take root.
So the footpath represents someone who has heard the message about
Jesus Christ, but the message isn’t able to take root. The problem is
not with Jesus or with the message, the problem is with the hardened
heart… hardened by cynicism and skepticism and egotism… hardened by
disbelief and nagging doubts that they can’t or won’t get past. And
this isn’t just a passive unbelief… Jesus said that the Devil himself
is involved. There’s spiritual warfare taking place. It’s as if Satan
has locked their minds and hearts and thrown away the key. And though
they are not beyond God’s reach, it will be difficult for them to move
beyond their hardness to believe.
Do you know anybody like that? I know I do.
B. The rocky
soil represents those who believe, but abandon their faith under
When the going gets
tough, they abandon the journey. When the heat is on, they shrivel up
and die. When their faith is tested, they fail the test. Why? Because
their roots do not go deep enough. They do not allow the message of
Christ to infiltrate their lives. Instead of trusting Jesus to help
them through their trials, they rely on their own resources. Instead of
looking to Him as their ever-present source of help, they choose to
look within and away from Him. They’re not really rooted in Christ, or
they would know that they can look to Him and trust Him.
Now, here’s the thing about a plant: It’s either growing or it’s dying.
For a plant to grow and continue to grow, it needs to take root and
have its roots firmly established. If the roots can only go so deep,
they will not be protected from the hot midday sun. And they will not
have access to the moist soil further down below the surface. And so
they will die from lack of moisture. Jesus said…
Luke 8:13 (NLT)
“The rocky soil represents those who hear
the message with joy. But like young plants in such soil, their roots
don’t go very deep. They believe for a while, but they wilt when the
hot winds of testing blow.”
Do you know anybody like that? I know I do.
C. The thorny
ground represents those who believe in Jesus, but become distracted by
the things of this world.
So many things distract
us and lure us away from what’s really important. Check this out…
[VIDEO CLIP – Sermon Spice – THE PARADOX OF OUR TIME]
Do you see how easy it is to become preoccupied with temporal things
and neglect the eternal? To become wrapped up in the things of this
world and forget about the things of God? It even happens to believers.
Many people hear the message and respond to it, and they begin to grow
in their newfound faith… only to lose it when other things crowd God
out. That’s the danger of the thorny ground. Jesus described it this
Luke 8:14 (NLT)
“The thorny ground represents those who hear
and accept the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out
by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never
grow into maturity.”
What do thorns do to a plant? They rob the plant of the needed
nutrition, water, light, and space. And so the plant is essentially
choked to death. Likewise, the worries of life or the pursuit of
pleasure or riches can choke the spiritual life out of a person.
A person like this doesn’t want God to mess up their plans or get in
their way. Their own plans and ambitions come first… and it doesn’t
matter to them what purpose God created them for. The sad thing is, a
person like this may start out fine. They may be taking root and
growing in their faith heading toward maturity, but they get distracted
by other things. If you ask me, which none of you have done but I’m
going to tell you anyway, this is what has happened to many of the
Christian leaders who have fallen. How many times have high profile
Christian leaders become distracted by riches and pleasure and fame?
How many times did people who were on the right path decide to take a
They never planned it like that, it was never their intention, but they
became distracted by the things of this world.
Do you know anybody like that? I know I do.
There’s an old story that tells of Satan calling in one of his most
effective demons for a chat. This demon had personally overseen the
ruin of thousands upon thousands of souls. So Satan asked him, “What’s
your secret?” And to Satan’s shock, the demon replied… “I tell them to
get serious about God. I tell them they need to open their hearts to
Christ. I tell them to repent of their sins and follow Jesus.”
“You tell them what?!?” exploded Satan.
“I tell them they need to do all these things… tomorrow,” he added with
a sly grin.
So many things seem so important. There are all kinds of things we work
day and night for, there are goals we strive to attain. How meaningful
are they in the context of eternity? Are they truly important, or are
they merely “weeds” that choke out the priorities that really matter?
We need to be careful to never trade away what is truly significant for
a bunch of weeds—no matter how pretty they look or how sweet they smell.
(illustration from NLT Life Application Commentary)
Let me pause here to
make an observation. This farmer that Jesus told about went out to
plant in his field, but he allowed some of his seeds to fall on the
footpath and on the rocky soil and among the thorns. Why? I mean, if
the farmer were any good, wouldn’t he be a bit more careful? Why would
he allow seed to be wasted like that?
I think that’s a picture of God’s grace. His grace is spread liberally,
so it’s inevitable that some would fall among the thorns and rocks and
footpaths. His blessings are given even to those who reject Him, and
His message is entrusted even to those least likely to respond. And the
truth is, sometimes seeds do take root and grow in the strangest of
places. So from God’s perspective, it’s worth it for His message to be
spread far and wide, even among those who are likely to reject it.
Well, we’ve talked about three kinds of soil. But there’s still one
D. The fertile
soil represents those who believe and grow to maturity in Jesus.
Luke 8:15 (NLT)
“But the good soil represents honest,
good-hearted people who hear God’s message, cling to it, and steadily
produce a huge harvest.”
These people are hungry for more of God. They want to know Him above
all. They want their faith to become strong, and they allow Jesus to
impact every aspect of their lives. They choose to follow Him, come
what may. They are devoted to Him. And as a result, they grow from a
young believer to a fully-devoted follower of Jesus.
They get the sunlight they need… by not just attending church but by
getting involved in the community of the church. Their roots go deep
into the Word of God and to prayer. And they produce seeds that result
in others hearing the message and responding to it, as well.
Do you know anybody like that? I know I do. In fact, the majority of
you here this morning either are people like this or are becoming
people like this.
So now we come back to
the verse we started with…
Luke 8:17 (NLT)
“For everything that is hidden or secret
will eventually be brought to light and made plain to all.”
Jesus told this story about a farmer, and then makes this cryptic
statement. What’s He getting at? Well, we have to make one more trip
backwards, to verses 9 and 10…
Luke 8:9-10 (NLT)
His disciples asked him what the story
meant. He replied, “You have been permitted to understand the secrets
of the Kingdom of God. But I am using these stories to conceal
everything about it from outsiders…”
At the time Jesus was speaking, His message was only being heard and
received by a few. In fact, many people dismissed His stories as
meaningless chatter. In essence, He was the farmer in the story
spreading His seed on a localized scale.
But in verse 17, He tells His disciples that the time was coming when
His message would be proclaimed everywhere. No longer would it be told
only in cryptic stories… it would be broadcast for all to hear. And
that time came after His resurrection and ascension back to Heaven.
Beginning in Acts chapter 2, we read about how His disciples began to
spread the news about Jesus throughout the world, right down to this
very day. And even now, for those of us who call ourselves His, we are
His disciples charged with the mission of spreading the message today.
At the time He told the story, He was the farmer spreading the seed.
But now He has entrusted that seed to us to spread.
How can I do that? How can I spread the seed of the message of Jesus?
Well, just as we finish up, let me give you four tips for spreading the
How Can You “Spread the Seed” Today?
1. Grow to
According to Ephesians
4, you do this by accepting Christ and becoming a part of His Church.
You listen to teaching from His Word, you read it yourself and apply it
to your life, you learn to pray, and you participate in the ministry of
the church. Church is not meant to be a spectator sport; it’s
Ephesians 4:11-13 (NLT)
He is the one who gave these gifts to the
church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors
and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his
work and build up the church, the body of Christ, until we come to such
unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature
and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ.
2. Tell your
Paul asked in Romans 10…
Romans 10:14 (NLT)
But how can they call on him to save them
unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they
have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless
someone tells them?
Let others know what a difference God has made in your life. Don’t be
obnoxious about it, but don’t hide it either. If people don’t hear
about Jesus, how will they ever come to accept Him? Look for
opportunities to tell your story especially to those whose hearts are
fertile and ready to hear. But don’t neglect openings with those whose
hearts may be hardened or thorny or rocky, either.
Earlier in the service we sang some songs about Heaven. For those of us
who have accepted the message of Jesus and have chosen to live for Him,
that is our final destination. That’s what we’re eagerly looking
forward to. Now, don’t you want to take others with you? So don’t
neglect this very important mission you have been given to tell your
story so others can hear and believe. There’s no greater thing you
could do with your life. Seriously.
Romans 1:16 (NLT)
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about
Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes…
3. Live a life
Gandhi once declared…
“I like their Christ; I don’t like their Christians.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“I will believe in the Redeemer when the Christian looks a little more
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Two people who had considered becoming Christians and possibly would
have, if it weren’t for Christians showing a blatant lack of integrity.
Psalm 69:5-6 (NLT)
O God, you know how foolish I am; my sins
cannot be hidden from you. Don’t let those who trust in you stumble
because of me, O Sovereign LORD Almighty.
If you believe it, you’d better live it. As David Otis Fuller asked…
“If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough
evidence to convict you?”
~ David Otis Fuller
others to hear the message.
Best example… invite
them to church. Offer to pick them up or meet them at the door. Let
them know what to expect, introduce them to two or three other people,
sit with them, take them out for lunch afterwards. To go with the theme
of a farmer, you’re tilling the soil. You’re making them receptive to
the seed of the message and placing them in an atmosphere where they
can take root and grow. Get it?
We need to be spreading
the seed. We need to be spreading the life-changing, life-giving
message about Jesus. And catch what Jesus said about the seed that
falls on fertile soil…
Luke 8:8 (NLT)
“Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This
seed grew and produced a crop one hundred times as much as had been
Normally, a farmer can expect good seed to produce a crop 7 to 10 times
what was planted. He’s pleased with that kind of return. Can you
imagine the thrill a farmer would experience with a return of 100
times? But that’s the power of the message. It’s a potent seed, which
produces incredible results.
In fact, on that day in Acts chapter 2 when what was hidden was brought
into plain sight, three thousand people responded to the message. And
there’s absolutely no reason why that same response couldn’t happen
Spread the seed.
Am I (or am I
becoming) a mature believer, firmly rooted in my faith?
What, if anything,
prevents me from telling my story to those who need to hear it? Be
Is there anything in
my life that would repel others from Jesus? A lack of integrity? A
sinful habit? A self-serving attitude?
people who need Jesus and begin praying for them. Look for
opportunities to tell your story and to invite them to church with you.