Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Parable of the Sower

Mark 4:1-9

1 Once again Jesus began teaching by the lakeshore. A very large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat in the boat while all the people remained on the shore. 2 He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

3 “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. 4 As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. 5 Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” 9 Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

S - Scripture

3 “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed.

O - Observation

The footpath (verse 4) can be thought of as preoccupation. We do not often see sports, community involvement, and leisure as evil. And they are not evil. But things don’t have to be evil to fulfill an evil end. Some of the most attractive and worthwhile activities can keep us so preoccupied that the seeds of love, faith, and grace never have a chance to penetrate our hearts.

The rocky soil (verses 5 and 6) displays the difference between character and reputation. John Woodin said: Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is who you really are, while your reputation is merely who others think you are. Character is the roots – reputation is the exterior. When the character is shallow, the plant withers and dies. God doesn't want us to have a superficial relationship with Him. God wants us to go deep. Paul writes this in Ephesians 3:17 - Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

The thorns (verse 7) are areas of life, lure of wealth, desires of nice things (see verses 18-19). Perhaps the most deceptive thing about stuff and wealth are that we expect them to give us more satisfaction and security than they are capable of providing. We are created to relate to people and to God – not to money and stuff. Kierkegaard wrote: purity of the heart is to will one thing. Some of the most attractive and useful things become a thorn if they crowd out the one thing: God.

A - Application

As a follower of Jesus, preparing good soil in my life creates an environment where God can work in my life. My response should be threefold: 1) Hear God's Word, 2) Accept God's Word, and 3) Act on God's Word (see verse 20).

Another application is to sow God's love. Some seeds will land on bad soil or be smothered by weeds. But, some seeds will land on good soil and flourish. I can't control what happens to the seeds once they are sowed. I can only be like the farmer and sow generously and trust God for the harvest.

P - Prayer

Lord, help me be good soil. I want to consistently hear and accept your Word. I want to follow you more closely. Allow me not only to be a recipient of your Word, help me be a sower of your Word: generously, recklessly, and radically. Amen.

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