Mark 4:1-20 1 Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. 2 He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: 3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” 10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’”
13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
In Mark 1 through 3 we saw Jesus’ examples and miracles. His love. Starting with chapter 4 we hear His teachings. And it’s easier to embrace the love of Jesus Christ then it is His truth.
A parable has only one meaning. The sower is the evangelist, who takes the see (the gospel) and scatters it. The soil is the human heart.
Jesus gives us the purpose of the parable in verses 11 and 12. There were a lot of people following Jesus at this time, but many were only there for what they could get from Him or see more miracles. They had hard hearts. They had a spirit of judgementalism. If you have a hard heart you won’t understand what He said.
Psalm 18:25-26 25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 26 to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
If you come to Jesus, come for what He wants to give you! The point of this parable is to test the quality of the soil of our hearts. Jesus is asking us to consider our faithfulness and our fruitfulness.
He gives us the four different responses to His message:
1. Non receptive. A hard heart. It rejects the gospel.
2. Shallow heart. It springs up fast, but because it has no roots it dies. We have to go beyond the admiration and interest and engage.
3. Strangled heart. It’s receptive, but divided. Too many other cares and interests in the world. From the surface it looks clear, but there are roots and weeds below.
4. Fertile heart. They hear it, accept it and bear fruit.
The others all heard too. The difference here is the fruitfulness. The test for how our hearts are is how fruitful we are.
Seeds are designed to make more fruit that have more seeds. Christians are designed to make more Christians. Scatter your seeds liberally!
I've written about this parable before: Parable of the Soils