He was traveling from one town and village to another, preaching and telling the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary, called Magdalene (seven demons had come out of her); Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward; Susanna; and many others who were supporting them from their possessions.
As a large crowd was gathering, and people were flocking to Him from every town, He said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed. As he was sowing, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Other seed fell on the rock; when it sprang up, it withered, since it lacked moisture. Other seed fell among thorns; the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. Still other seed fell on good ground; when it sprang up, it produced a crop: 100 times what was sown.” As He said this, He called out, “Anyone who has ears to hear should listen!” (Luke 8:1-8)
When you think you’re doomed, it’s very good news to find out you’re not. When a farmer sowed grain, the overwhelming majority of that grain sprang up and grew. Very little seed was ever wasted. No farmer stood on a road when he scattered his seeds. He always stood in his plowed field. Only the smallest handful of grain ever missed the rich dirt, got snatched away by birds, or fell to thorns.
Therefore, the seed Jesus scattered—his words about the kingdom—were mostly effective. Jesus was telling those listening to him that the kingdom would grow and become abundant. Crop yields of a hundred times what was sown were stupendous. Agronomists consider a yield of three grains of wheat for each grain planted the minimum necessary to merely sustain human life. Therefore, to have a hundred fold increase—a hundred grains for each planted—meant no more worry about anything for the farmer: he had enough to sustain him and his family—and an abundance to sell on the open market.
Famine was always a fear in the ancient world. So Jesus’ story would have resonated strongly with those who heard him. Jesus wanted us to know that God’s kingdom would grow, and that it would grow spectacularly well. Evangelism—sharing our faith with those around us—yields mostly rich rewards.