If you are a pastor or lay person who wants to use this to preach in church – that is why I posted it. I don’t care about credit, I only care that God’s word is preached and Christ is glorified. I pray He uses this sermon in a mighty way through you. You have my permission to alter it and use it however God leads you. God bless you in your ministry. You can bookmark this to check out the other free written sermons on my blog.
Tom Long – “The language of God’s future breaking into today.”
Name some Parables –
Today, we have before us the parable of the sower, the purpose of parables, Jesus explains the parable of the sower. I was going to also cover the parable of a “Lamp under a basket”, the parable of the growing seed, and the parable of the mustard seed. But last week I covered a lot of ground to finish up chapter 3 and I heard from at least one person who told me it was hard to follow. As we travel through the book of Mark, there is not always going to be a grand point to be be made – a moral of the story or everything tied up in a pretty bow. You may just glean nuggets. Jesus knew people struggled to pay attention and to hang in there. It is not new. It is why Mark begins Jesus’ teaching today with “Listen!” and we will end today’s study of Scripture with “hear it, accept it, and implement it”. So I am going to slow down here and split chapter 4 up into three weeks.
So listen as we cover Mark 4:1-20.
RC Sproul says some call it the parable of the sower, some call it the parable of the seed, and still others call it the parable of the soil. Any one of the three can be extrapolated, or emphasized. Normally in parables there is one central meaning. In this case, the meaning is not always agreed upon. You might say it depends upon the soil.
Matt Woodley writes in the Resonate Series that the parable of the sower is not just a little morality tale. Jesus’ essential message is not, “OK gang, try to listen real hard to me. If you don’t, you’ll be in trouble and if you do, you’ll get bonus points.” If you listen it seems pretty easy to understand. “There are different types of soil – all bad but one. Don’t be the bad soils. Do be the good soil.” But before it discusses the soils, the parable focuses on the work of Jesus, the sower. “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.” We had nothing to do with this prior work. That’s how Jesus operates. He flings good seed all over the place. This practice of farming was common in that time. They would go out and throw the seed first and then go out and “plow”, which was basically turning dirt over with a stick. There is nothing wrong with the seed. And as you can tell, there is no shortage of seed because he flings good seed all over the place. 25% never get started. 25% wilt under pressure. 25% get choked to death, and 25% becomes fruitful. Faced with the difficulties of the environment – hard soil, burning sun, and deadly weeds, most of the seeds cannot survive because the odds are stacked against them. But then, look. A miracle. A small part of the scattered seed not only makes it, but flourishes.
I have a pineapple plant in my office that is literally six feet across. It is years old. I started it from the top of a pineapple I cut off and put in water. I have unsuccessfully tried dozens of pineapples over the years, but this one took off and is remarkable. In Jesus’ day, a a good crop would produce a 10 fold harvest. 30, 60, and 100 fold harvests would be miraculous harvests.
Then we move to the purpose of parables –
In Matthew, Jesus says he preaches in parables because they don’t understand, but in Mark, Jesus says he preaches in parables so they won’t understand.
People can come to Christ too quickly, get the surface, not the depth.
This lack of understanding can push them deeper, into active thought, and sufficient doubt.
It takes time to believe the Gospel.
It takes time to trust Jesus.
Our Lord Jesus understood that truth is not sweet music to all ears. Simply put, there are those who have neither interest nor regard in the deep things of God. So why, then, did He speak in parables? To those with a genuine hunger for God, the parable is both an effective and memorable vehicle for the conveyance of divine truths. Our Lord’s parables contain great volumes of truth in very few words—and His parables, rich in imagery, are not easily forgotten. So, then, the parable is a blessing to those with willing ears. But to those with dull hearts and ears that are slow to hear, the parable is also an instrument of both judgment and mercy. Two people can hear the same thing and one gets it and one doesn’t. When people tell me a sermon I preach was a great sermon, I never fail to remember there were others who did not think so. And vice versa. The words I speak are exceedingly dependent upon the hearer.
When we do a little research, when we search for meaning in Jesus’ parables, the Holy Spirit, and perhaps some good commentaries, will help us understand.
Jesus explains this one – The sower (Jesus) sows the seed (the Word of God). The devil comes and steals some of the seed. Other seed hit rocks, and seem like they might spring up and make it, but there is nothing to put roots down in, so when the storm comes – or tribulation or persecution, they stumble. And the ones that end up in the thorns get choked out by the deceiving temptations of the world – the constant desire of “more” than what we have and the willingness to do anything to get it – only to be left wanting more. And then there are the ones sown on the good ground. The seed is good in all cases. And in some cases, the soil has been prepared to receive it. What makes good soil? Manure? Floods? Sometimes it is the trials of life that make the soil ready. Sometimes people have to hit bottom to realize their need. We’ve been on mission trips where river mud comes up in the house, and we have mucked out homes. We did this in Kanawha County WV for 6-8 weeks several days a week. We did it in Marshall County, WV, mucking out homes. But it also comes up in the yards, and it is wonderful for the plants. We’ve also been to rebuilds six months to a year later and seen plants in places that people have told us that have never done so well as after the flood.
How do you know if your heart is good soil? – Mark 4:20 –
But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
akouó – not just hear, but listen. to Hear is passive – to listen is active.
A woman never says to a man you’re not hearing me – what do they say men? You’re not listening.
paradechomai – receive it…. yes, but even more so – welcome it with personal interest. Also means “admit”
karpophoreó – to bear fruit, produce a crop. And if you make it to this point – If you listen and receive the word, you will not just be a 10% producer. By the grace of God and the Power of the Holy Spirit, you will be a 100% producer. And by producer, I believe it means commitment. You will be all in as an active participant in serving the most high God.
It does not necessarily mean you will immediately become a super Christian and they will write books about you. It is the Wesley Covenant Prayer –
I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,Exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, O Glorious and blessed God,Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth,Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen