Today we are looking again at Mark 4:1-20. Yesterday we talked about why it is that Jesus taught in parables. Today we are going to look into what exactly He is talking about in this passage:
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. 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.”
We see Jesus tell a parable, much like an illustration or example, about someone sowing seeds. Some seeds he sows feel on path and birds carried them off. Others on ground that was rocky, they sprouted up and then without depth, withered. Others among thorns and they choked them off. And finally some seed fell on good ground and brought forth lots of yield.
In verses 13-20 Jesus explains to us what exactly is happening here. I think for us the thing that we need to notice about all these scenario is that in each of them, the seed lands upon the ground, and in some cases begins to show some growth. But then something happens. Either birds (Satan) take them, or the lack of depth, or the thorns, cause them from fully blossoming.
The seed is that faith, that grace of God given to us. Grace is not just given to Christians, but through prevenient grace, grace is show to all. All people, even those that reject God, as shown His goodness. The bible says that all good gifts from God, so if it’s in your life, and it’s good, it’s from God.
So, the seed is sown, grace is given, and what happens next? We need to be aware of 3 things when God’s grace is given:
First, we aren’t able to even process we’ve been given it. Spiritual warfare, distractions, things come against us and before we can even process that we’ve been given grace, we’ve moved on. So, in other words, pay attention to God’s grace given you.
Second, it is received and it is good. But, there is no depth. And trials come. Troubles come. And it dies on the vine. So, it isn’t just enough to “believe” and get excited about Jesus. We’ve got to get deep roots.
Faith isn’t just a matter or excitement of joy. We need discipline. Because it’s going to be hard at times. There’s going to be challenges at times. There’s going to be troubles. If we don’t have those roots we will fade. How do we develop roots? We attend to things of God. We read. We pray. We stay connected to God’s people. The way I put it is we read our Bible, we pray, we go to church. Faithfully doing these things give us roots to survive troubles.
And the third thing we see is the seed is sown and thorns choke them off. The concerns of the world draw our focus from God, to the world. Stay focused. Remember what matters. Focus on what counts. Keep your mind on the things of God in all things.
And last we see ground that is receptive, that is good, that is ready. Good dirt. That’s what we want to be. Receptive to God’s word and focused on seeing it grow when it’s given to us.
Today may we be good dirt!
Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 4:21-32.
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