Ok, today’s reading from Mark is going to be a “two-parter.” We are going to look at Mark 4: 1-20, which is the parable of the sower, as well as Jesus’ explanation for why He uses parables, and then an explanation for what this parable means. So, we’ll chew on this for at least another day. Here’s Mark 4:1-20:
The Parable of the Sower
4 Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
The Purpose of the Parables
10 When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; 12 in order that
‘they may indeed look, but not perceive,
and may indeed listen, but not understand;
so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’”
13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. 17 But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.[b] 18 And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. 20 And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”
I said before when we started this journey together through Mark (or any Gospel) we’ll see that Jesus isn’t always who we expect, or want Him to be. He is who is He. He is the Alpha and Omega, beginning and the End, first and the last. But when you look at Him, here’s one thing that I’m always drawn to about Him.
He makes you make a decision. Will you follow, or will you not? Will we accept His offer of grace or will we not? He comes to us and make us choose. And gives us the free will to choose. But He (and we) know that there are consequences for what it is that we choose.
So we see in verse 12 He says, some folks will not accept the teaching that He offers. In fact, that’s why He teaches like He does, so that they will not be able to understand. Now, that’s one of those passages that has never made sense to me. Why would Jesus teach in a way, on purpose, where people would not be able to understand it?
The reason why is this. Those that have followed Him, that accept Him, that walk with Him, they are taught, they understand. To those that reject Him, they are not given the key to understanding Him.
To put it another way, the Bible is an interesting book to all people. You can learn history, culture, philosophy, so many different things within it’s pages. But apart from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Bible will never “make sense” to you, or to me. It’s the Spirit that speaks, it’s the Spirit that moves, it’s the Spirit that inspires.
It’s the Spirit that makes it makes sense. Teachers, preachers, others can help us understand, but it’s the Spirit that truly makes the text come alive.
If if we reject that Spirit, we’ll never really understand the text.
Those that have rejected Jesus never understood Jesus.
The reason that He taught like this was this. He wants us to make a choice. To follow Him, or not. If we choose to follow, these parables will come alive and makes sense. If we chooses to reject, they never will.
So, we choose. They choose. That’s why He taught like this.
Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 4:21-32, but dig into exactly what Jesus is talking about in this parable.
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