Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Parable of the Sower

Mark 4:1-20

“And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.

And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.  And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.
And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.  And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.  And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:1-9)

The multitudes followed Jesus.  In order to make himself heard better, he went out from shore in a small boat and taught from there.  In the process of teaching he used an illustration they were very familiar with, of a farmer planting seed such as wheat, by broadcasting it in field he had plowed.  Broadcasting is slinging the seed out so that it will be scattered on top of the ground, where it can be raked in.  Unfortunately, as a result one has only limited control of where the seed goes.    Some landed on soil that had not been plowed, some landed on a rocky area where there was only a faint skim of soil.  Some landed among a lot of weeds and weed seed, and some landed on the best prepared ground.  The results varied widely.  He advised the people to pay close attention to the story. 

“And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.

And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.” (Mark 4:10-12)

Everyone there could understand that different conditions produced different results.  They lived with it every day, but the disciples were concerned that they might not fully understand the meaning.    Jesus explained that the parables were deliberate so that while everyone could enjoy and learn from the stories, only those with a deeper interest, who took the teaching seriously and thought deeply would understand the all the ramifications.   Those who were not interested would not understand enough to be converted and have their sins forgiven. 

“And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?  The sower soweth the word.  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 4:13-15)

If they didn’t understand such a simple, familiar illustration, how were they to understand his other parables?    The farmer went out to spread the seed, God’s word.  Some of it landed on unplowed ground, and just laid on top, where the birds picked it up before it ever had a chance to grow.  People who have never heard and have no interest soon forget what they have heard of the gospel. 

“And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.” (Mark 4:16-17)

The soil over a rock is like the people who find the message exciting, and think a way to escape hell is a good idea.  They make professions to please the preacher or because it is the popular thing to do, or will get them attention in the church.  They have no real commitment to God or Christ, and turn away when it a commitment is called for. 

“And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” (Mark 4:18-19)

The seed among thorns represents those who sincerely desire God and his blessings, but become so caught up in earning a living, raising their family, and materialistic desires that they don’t grow spiritually like they should.

“And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.” (Mark 4:20)

The final group represents those who are prepared to receive the Word wholeheartedlyand devote their lives to it.  They produce spiritual fruit in abundance, with some producing more than others for whatever reason.  

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