“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.” (Mark 4:1)
One of the stories that Jesus told to this big crows was the story of a farmer who went out to sow seed. Depending on where the seed fell, some bore fruit while others didn’t. When Jesus was alone with His disciples, he explained this story (or parable) to them.
“Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?
The farmer sows the word.
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.
Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 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.
Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 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.
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” (Mark 4:13-20).
This morning we talked about this story at our Bible School in Idaho. It is a story that many of us have heard, perhaps multiple times, and yet it can leave us with questions. We might look at this story from the perspective of the farmer and ask ourselves: ‘Why does he sow in places that will never bear fruit?’ Or we might ask ourselves how this teaching applies to us doing ministry.
Though these questions and perspectives are valid, we often overlook the context in which Jesus was telling this story. Jesus was talking to a multitude, so great that He had to get into a boat to address them. Though He did not explain the meaning of this story to all these people, He did tell all of them this parable. In the very immediate context therefore, we can say that these people where the different types of soils and Jesus was the farmer sowing the word among them. But He knew their hearts. He knew that even though many had come, not all of them would receive His message and bear fruit from it.
“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” (Mark4:9b)
That is how Jesus ends his parable for this multitude. And though we know the explanation of the four soils, while the multitude did not, perhaps this is a challenge for us as well. Where are we at? Are we troubled by the things that come against us? Or are we taken up by everything life has to offer? If so, just be careful that it doesn’t overtake the work that God has been doing in your life.
I know it can be easy to loose heart or to get distracted. Let’s make sure that we try to be there for each other and pray that God will continue to bring our minds and our hearts back to Him no matter what is going on in our lives.
To God be the Glory!