2019-10-27 – Mark 4.1-32 – The Sowers
2019-10-27 – Mark 4.1-32 – The Sowers
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
Last week we talked about this thing called Parables. They are basically short stories that complemented some truth that Jesus was trying to convey in His teaching ministry. Jesus used many parables which confounded the listeners then and now. Some of those He subsequently explained, but some have multiple meanings that leaves the reader with much to ponder in regards to application. This method of teaching also compels the listener to think and ponder, which I believe is a very good thing. The use of parables is intended to conceal the truth from those who are too stubborn or prejudiced to hear what is being taught, while at the same time gives the believer a deeper understanding of God’s will.
In the next several weeks we are going to go over some of those parables that Jesus taught. For if it was important for the apostles and disciples to learn these parables, then it is important for us to learn as well.
Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 4.1, pew Bibles pg. 890 in God’s Inspired, Infallible and Living Word, but let us first start with Prayer.
As today’s message and parable has something to do with agriculture, and the fact that we live in the breadbasket of the world during harvest time, I would bet this parable should be of interest to some of you here today. I had the privilege and pleasure to work for John Deere for 10 years before I went into full time ministry. During my tenure, I served as the Publisher for all the Technical Manuals internationally. Along with the technical manuals, we also published many complimentary training and teaching publications. One that I had helped personally write is this Introduction To Crop Production primer. I learned so much about farming during my employment with Deere, it was a true joy indeed, but what I know still pales in comparison to some of the farmers we have around this fair city of Orion Illinois. One might think that growing the seed of corn and soy beans would be a simple prospect, but as I learned, to do it right and efficiently, takes much deliberation and toil.
Today’s message is entitled “The Sowers”. My prayer is that you will enjoy and learn from this message and that God’s seed of faith will grow healthy and strong within you by better understanding His Word and His Will.
To give you a little background, you should know that at this point Jesus had chosen the twelve Apostles and He was healing many people around the Sea of Galilee. He had gathered a very large crowd and then started teaching them.
Mark 41 Again he began to teach by the sea, and a very large crowd gathered around him. So he got into a boat on the sea and sat down, while the whole crowd was by the sea on the shore. 2 He taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Consider the sower who went out to sow. 4 As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it grew up quickly, since the soil wasn’t deep. 6 When the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it didn’t produce fruit. 8 Still other seed fell on good ground and it grew up, producing fruit that increased thirty, sixty, and a hundred times.” 9 Then he said, “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen.”
This parable is also written about in the books of Matthew 13 and Luke 8
To sow a seed is to plant a seed, and thus a Sower is a farmer, one who plants seeds. Whereas a Reaper is one who harvests the grain. Sowing and Reaping in today’s vernacular is the same as planting and harvesting. Ever hear of the term you sow what you reap? In other words you get what you work for. That is a great phrase when it is beneficial for you. But maybe not so good when it works against you. If you work hard, you would like to reap or harvest one day what you have worked hard for in labor. We want this type of reaping. A person works for 40 years and afterwards would like to relax a little in retirement, thus sowing and reaping. Or a different type application might be about how a woman who goes into Labor after carrying the baby in her womb for 40 weeks. God willing she will reap the joy of her labor in a beautiful baby that she can then raise.
Sowing and Reaping is a good thing.. most times.. But then there is the other side of the stick, when reaping is not a pleasant thing. I think of people who have lung cancer after many years of smoking, or perhaps when people reap what is coming to them based upon a life of criminal activity, that type of reaping isn’t a pleasant thing at all. Sowing and Reaping is really what much of life is all about isn’t it. We get back from what we invest in, good or bad, that is life. What are you investing or sowing in?
The fact that you are listening to me now indicates you put value in this time spent in God’s word, and accordingly you will reap what you sow. The great prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament wrote in chapter 55 [SLIDE]
“For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return without watering the earth, making it bud and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so My word that proceeds from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and it will prosper where I send it. You will indeed go out with joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
I just love God’s promises don’t you?
Regarding this parable that Jesus spoke, sometimes He leaves the messenger to figure out the meaning and application themselves, however this parable is followed by an explanation from the Parable teller Himself, Jesus Christ. See now what He says about this Sower’s situation directly. Starting in verse 13, it reads:
13 Then he said to them: “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand all of the parables? The sower sows the word.
So just like the farmer plants the seed, the sower is planting the Word of God. Jesus is saying that we all need to be sowing God’s Word. If we are not sowing then we will never even have a chance to reap what is not sown. What follows are four different types of people who hear God’s Word:
Some are like the word sown on the path. When they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word sown in them. 16 And others are like seed sown on rocky ground. When they hear the word, immediately they receive it with joy. 17 But they have no root; they are short-lived. When distress or persecution comes because of the word, they immediately fall away.
I would suggest this first type of person likes what the church brings, the fellowship and the moral character, but they never really accept Jesus into their heart. They hear God’s word and they hang around for a little while but when the excitement wears off, they quickly find other things to do. These type of people never really accept God’s Word or God’s Will, and sadly many of them will parish.
18 Others are like seed sown among thorns; these are the ones who hear the word, 19 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.
This type of person here is very well illustrated later in the Gospels where the young rich man who came to Jesus and asked what he must do to enter into the kingdom. Jesus knew that he valued his money more than heaven and so he told him that he would have to give up all his money first. When Jesus told him that, he just turned and walked away. The love of money in this world can surely keep someone from an eternity in heaven. Remember the verse, Matthew 19:24, when Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, it is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”. But it really wasn’t about the money, it is about how we value money. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs”. Don’t ever let the lure of money or anything else choke your relationship with Father God, for it will bring you many griefs indeed.
20 And those like seed sown on good ground hear the word, welcome it, and produce fruit thirty, sixty, and a hundred times what was sown.”
I have seen this in my own life and I am sure many of you here today can attest that God changes things for the good for those that follow His will. Proverbs 16:20 says, “Whoever heeds instruction will find success, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD”, Amen? So the seed in this parable is God’s Word. The good ground portrays the one who hears, understands, and receives the Word—and then allows the Word to accomplish its result in his or her life. I would argue that this last type of person represented by the “good ground” is the only one of the four who is truly saved. Because you see, salvation’s proof is in the fruit. Good fruit that comes out of the person is the key indicator that the seed of God’s word and will is growing in the person’s heart, mind and soul. Remember the term “The proof is in the Pudding”, well in this case it is certainly true.
And we all know that there is both bad fruit and good fruit, and I am not talking about bananas and tomatoes here. But the results of what comes out of a person’s lifestyle and choices are the proof of what is inside their heart.
The Apostle Paul addresses this in Galatians 5:19 [SLIDE] He says: “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar..
I am warning you about these things—as I warned you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”. [SLIDE]
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit”.
I can tell you that when I was young, I had more bad fruit coming out of me then good fruit. But praise be to God, by His grace and mercy I have been called out of that darkness and into His light. Now my character yields much good fruit. PTL!
To summarize the points of this Parable of the Sower: How a person receives God’s Word is determined by the condition of their heart. And the secondary lesson would be that Salvation is more than a superficial choice; hearing the Good News gospel will cause folks who are truly saved to go on to proving it out. May our faith reflect that "good soil" and “good fruit” throughout our lives ahead.
Now in this chapter 4 of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus gives us two additional Mini-Parables that are very related to also chew on. The first is called The Parable of the Growing Seed. Verse 26 reads:
26 “The kingdom of God is like this,” he said. “A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day; the seed sprouts and grows, although he doesn’t know how. 28 The soil produces a crop by itself—first the blade, then the head, and then the full grain on the head. 29 As soon as the crop is ready, he sends for the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
The main point of this parable is in verse 28, “The soil produces a crop by itself” What this means is once the seed is planted well in a person’s heart, God will grow it. And when the seed grows and produces its fruit, we need to recognize and give credit to God for that growing process. Yes we should be endeavoring to grow in our faith and learn God’s word and will, but the credit for the growth truly belongs to God alone, and for that we should be eternally grateful. Also we should know that there are seasons of growth in the person and in the body of this church. And we have to be prudent about living out this Born Again, New Creation life that we are privileged and blessed to be.
The last mini-parable starts at verse 30, called The Parable of the Mustard Seed:
30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use to describe it? 31 It’s like a mustard seed that, when sown upon the soil, is the smallest of all the seeds on the ground. 32 And when sown, it comes up and grows taller than all the garden plants, and produces large branches, so that the birds of the sky can nest in its shade.”
Although the mustard seed isn’t the smallest seed in existence, it was the smallest seed in the area of Galilee. It can grow up to be 15 feet tall where the birds in fact can nest in its branches.
Again, on this side of heaven we will never know the total dynamics of our choice to choose God and His election of choosing us. The important thing to know is when that happens, indeed God can grow that tiny seed within us to be something most wonderful in our soul. The Kingdom of God for us starts when accept His gift of grace and mercy, that Jesus Christ offered up for us on the Cross at Calvary. Even with only that mustard seed of faith, we can tap into a most powerful and loving God. Jesus said in Matthew 17:20 “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
As we prepare to close would you please rise..
I may have written a book on agriculture, but Jesus gave us His Word which is the seed we have been talking about.
The writer of our verses today Mark, quoted Jesus in the last sentence of our first main parable today; Jesus said “Let anyone with ears listen!”
Answer this question in your heart, has God’s Word (His seed of faith) that He prepared for you and delivered in this message today fallen on rocky soil, or soil that is full of thorns, or is it good fertile soil?
Jesus Loves you; He died for you; and He wants an everlasting eternal fellowship with you in heaven. Will you accept His calling on your life today?
Let us pray..