MARK 4:1-20 (NIV – UK)
The parable of the sower
1 Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered round 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!”’ [Isaiah 6:9-10]
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.’
BEING GOOD SOIL
The sower is constantly sowing. The word of Jesus is going out into the world. We hear it often. In sermons, songs and hymns, conversations – we read it in the Bible, other books and blogs – all sorts of places. The word is being sown. The question is, what sort of soil are we going to be?
Jesus warns us of some dangers: Firstly, the influence Satan might have in our lives – preventing the word of life from affecting our hearts (v. 15). Secondly, not laying strong roots in Jesus and so being overcome by the troubles of this world (v. 16-17). Thirdly, being too caught up in the desires of the world, which chokes off the growth of any fruit that might otherwise flourish (v. 18-19).
It is only the good soil that produces fruit – in such abundance – even as much as a hundred times what was sown! (v. 20). The good soil will only be good soil if we allow Jesus to make it good soil. Nothing short of fully giving ourselves to him will do. Coming before Jesus with a humble heart, an acknowledgement that he is Lord, and a genuine trust in him will mean that we are ready to receive his word – we will be good soil and produce an abundance of fruit.
Question: What sort of ground do you think you represent? What will help us to be good soil?