INTRODUCTION

Jesus taught us in the parable of the sower that the Word is preached and falls by the way side:

And when he sowed, some [seeds] fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth [it] not,then cometh the wicked [one], and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side (Mt 13: 4, 19)

as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts (Mark 4: 4, 15)

A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved (Lk 8: 4, 12).

SCRIPTURAL USES OF THE TERM WAYSIDE

In order to understand this truth more fully, I explored the usage of the word “wayside” in the Greek language.  Hodos (G3598) is the Greek word for way and wayside.  It is used to mean a literal way, road, but  also denotes a belief system or way of life:

  • way of the Lord, which is straight and not crooked. It is the way of God in truth   (Mt 3: 3; Mt 22: 16)
  • the way that leads to life. It is full of joy and the presence of  God  (Mt 7: 14; Acts 2: 29)
  • way that leads to destruction (Mt 7: 13)
  • Paul persecuted the saints who were “of this way” (Acts 9: 2)
  • the right ways of the Lord (Acts 13: 10)
  • God permitted nations to walk in their own ways in the past/do what they felt like (Acts 14: 16)
  • way of salvation (Acts 16: 17)
  • the way of the Lord is contrasted with the baptism of John, which was the only doctrine that some of the believers knew. They had not heard of  Jesus dying on the cross (Acts 18: 25, 26)
  • wayside (Mt 3: 4, 19; Mt 20: 30). There are two uses here for wayside, one being a literal wayside/by the roadside and the  other meaning people who are onlookers.
  • way of righteousness (Mt 21: 32)
  • highways. In  this parable, guests invited to a feast did not attend, so the  Lord told His servants to go into the highways and bring anyone who will come. This represents the nations to whom we must preach the gospel  (Mt 22: 9)
  • a man healed of blindness followed Jesus in the way/His teachings (Mk 10: 52)
  • way of peace (Lk 1: 76)
  • rough ways which God would make smooth (Lk 3: 5) 
  • way to heaven (Jn 14: 4-6)

INTERPRETATION OF THE TEACHING OF THE WAYSIDE

Based on the scriptural usage of the term, I can confidently conclude that those hearing the gospel by the wayside are not walking in the ways of the Lord.   More specifically, they seem to be  religious, holding to a particular religious belief or maybe even several. Jesus said “I am the way”, but these may believe other gods or in the case of  others,  do not  believe that Jesus is the Messiah.  This group of people doubt that Jesus is the ONLY way to salvation and would argue that there are many ways to God.  They argue that you can be saved as long as you believe in a supreme being and would term themselves as “spiritual”.

Jesus therefore calls  them spirits that are by the wayside, because they do not adhere  to His way. Their false religious convictions are so strong that they are unable to understand the truth of the gospel.  The doubt in these spirits is so strong that satan comes and IMMEDIATELY snatches away the word.  Jesus shows us that this  person who is extremely susceptible to satanic influences so strong that the word is trodden down and fowls of the air devour the word.  Since they are by the wayside, they are on another way – of spiritual lies which leads to hell’s destruction, is rough and  has no joy and peace. 

As I sat at lunch, the Lord gave me another interpretation. He reminded me that He is “the way the truth and the Life” and  said that anyone who is not in His way is considered to be by the wayside (out of the way). In fact, Apostle Paul talked about those who are ignorant and out  of the way (Hebrews 5: 2).  A comparison of the parable of the sower with John 15 shows that those who are not in the Lord’s way are disconnected from Him.  As a result, these spirits are also dry, not receiving the nurture, watering and life provided by the Lord.

SATAN’S ROLE

Satan, fowls of the air (demons  and other predators) play a leading role in the destruction of this spirit. I hear the Lord telling me that satan has a lot at stake and will do any thing to hold this spirit in his dominion.  This is why he engineers the devouring and trampling of the word in this spirit so that they would not be saved.  

TWO  EXAMPLES IN SCRIPTURE

In Acts 13: 6-12, a sorcerer called Elymas used magic arts to withstand Paul’s preaching to  Governor Sergius Paulus. The scriptures say that he did in order to ” turn away the deputy from the faith” (Acts 13: 8).   This is a perfect  example of one person trying to snatch the word out of another’s heart.  The occult  presents  powerful opposition to the word of  God and doubters may fall away prey to its  influence.

Apostle  Paul spent three months preaching in the Jewish synagogue at Ephesus, but some were hardened by unbelief and spoke evil of the way of the Lord, seeking to turn away the multitudes (Acts 19: 8, 9). They tried to tread down or stamp out the effect of  the Apostle’s preaching. In fact, the resistance was so strong that Apostle Paul could not make headway and left the location to teach in another.   This shows us that the word of God can be stamped out by strong religious opposition.

You may be able to find others.  Now that I have been clearly taught this truth, I am better able to understand why it is so difficult to preach the gospel to the religious sceptic. Jesus’ own life showed that it can be very difficult – they were the ones who had Him crucified. Let us pray for the dominion of the devil to be broken in these spirits.

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