Twenty-first century farmers, agricultural engineers with their advanced degrees from prestigious universities, use Global Positioning Satellites (GPS), center-pivot irrigation systems, genetically engineered seeds, herbicides, pesticides, and powerful tractors and combines capable of plowing, planting, and harvesting vast acreages.
A first-century farmer carried a leather pouch on his shoulder, and using his hand, he broadcast the seeds by pitching them this way and that way as he walked back and forth in his field. Although he intended the seeds to be planted on prepared soil, soil often broken up by a hoe, inevitably, some seed landed on the pathway. Other seed fell into rocky areas and others into the weeds.
Jesus, a master-teacher, used parables to proclaim the truth of his eternal kingdom. Jesus used object-lessons common to his audience, objects such as farming, fishing, and shepherding.
As we’re Marching Thru Mark, we’ll discover that Mark only recorded ten parables, including a parable recorded also by Matthew (13:1-9) and Luke (8:4-8); the Parable of the Sower and the Soils. Interestingly, this is the only Parable that Jesus expressly interpreted for His disciples (Matthew 13:18-23; Mark 4:13-20; Luke 8:11-15).
Jesus “taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them, ‘Listen! Consider the sower who went out to sow’ ” (Mark 4:1-3). He continued, “some seeds landed on the hard-packed path. Some in the weeds, and some in the rocks. And some seed landed right where the farmer intended… on good soil.”
When His disciples asked for an explanation, Jesus said, “The sower sows the word” (Mark 4:14). The seed is the Word of God, the Gospel, the Good News! In His explanation, Jesus used the word “word” eight times. That’s the central theme… the word... the Gospel. The original “sower” was Jesus, but everyone who presents the Gospel plants a seed.
Some seed falls onto hard ground where birds snatch it away. Jesus explained, when the Gospel is sown in a hard heart, “immediately Satan comes and takes away the word” (Mark 4:15).
Other seed lands in the rocks where the soil is shallow. “When they hear the word, immediately they receive it with joy. But they have no root; they are short-lived. When distress or persecution comes because of the word, they immediately fall away” (Mark 4:16-17). One with a shallow heart, like the shallow soils among the rocks, may hear the Gospel and respond with enthusiasm, but when various challenges come, they quickly turn away.
And some seed falls on hearts crowded with weeds. “These are the ones who hear the word, but the worries of this age, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:18-19).
The one with a hard heart, a shallow heart, or a crowded heart, may hear the Gospel, and though the Gospel is superficially received, it never germinates, never takes root. Jesus clearly said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21) and “everyone who hears (the Gospel) and doesn’t act on it will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand”(Matthew 7:26). When we stand before the judgment seat, He’ll not ask, “Did you go to Sunday School?” … “Did you get baptized?” … “Can you quote John 3:16?” … He’ll ask, “Were you born again?” … “Did you allow Jesus to save you by His grace?” … “Did you receive Jesus’ gift of eternal life?” …
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Every seed planted in a receptive heart, those who genuinely receive the Gospel by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone will be eternally saved and secured. Guaranteed!