Read Mark 4:1-20
I like stories, which is good because Jesus liked to teach using stories a lot. It wasn’t his only method, but one that he seemed to use quite frequently. One story he told was of a farmer. The farmer goes out to sow his crops and throws the seed indiscriminately; it lands everywhere, some of it falls on the path, some on rocky soil, some amongst weeds and the rest amongst good soil. Not surprisingly, not all the seed produces plants. Birds eat the seed on the path, whilst the seed amongst the rocks even though at the start it looked healthy, dies a quick death because of its lack of roots. The seed amongst the weeds grew into plants, but the thorny weeds also grew to choke the plants so that they never produced any grain. But the good soil, well it produced. The seed that fell in the good soil not only grew into healthy plants, but it reproduced crops multiplying thirty, sixty, hundred times. A hundred times, that’s a cracker of a crop!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard that parable more times than I can count. I can recite it backwards, and I think I have heard almost every interpretation imaginable. I first heard it at such a young age that I can never imagine not comprehending what it meant. But imagine being amongst the disciples, hearing this story for the first time. Jesus has just jumped in a boat because the crowds surrounding him were so huge. The disciples must be excited – this is the time for Jesus to tell the crowds who he is, why he has come, to reinstate Israel to its former glory through a triumphal defeat of the occupying Roman army. Then Jesus begins to speak, everyone leans in to hear, what is the great man going to say? Everyone waits in anticipation, and to this great crowd longing to hear his words Jesus gives…farming advice…what the?
The disciples didn’t get it. That’s what I like about the book of Mark; the honesty of the portrayal of the disciples that so often just didn’t get it, and Jesus’ amazing patience with them. It gives me hope that when it takes me so long to get something that Jesus is trying to teach me, that maybe he will be patient with me just as he was patient with the first twelve.
Back to the farming advice…the disciples didn’t get it…but Jesus explains it. He says some people will be told about the gospel, but they will never hear it – they are like the seed that falls on the path. There are some who will hear the gospel, and initially they will get excited. They can’t get enough of youth group and church, but it doesn’t last long. They are like the ones that fall amongst the rocks, they shoot up quick but they have no roots.
Some others hear the gospel and grab hold of it, they grow, they attend church, I believe they even say and do the right things. But there’s something wrong, they never reproduce, the worries of this world distract them. It could be work, or paying bills or relationships, but it’s something and because of it they never do what they are meant to do. These people are like the plants amongst the weeds who never reproduce. See the purpose of a plant is to reproduce, and so is the task of a follower of Christ. We are called to share with others, and when we live a solely selfish life where whilst we know Christ for ourselves – we never share with others, then we are not living for what we were created – to make God’s glory known.
But the good news is there are others. They hear the gospel – they may not shoot up quick, but their roots go deep. They get to know Jesus, they make the relationship personal, and they make King Jesus first in their lives. Whilst like everyone else there are distractions, work troubles, bills to pay, relationship issues – they keep their eyes on Christ. And because they keep their eyes on Christ, like the seed in good soil, they reproduce an incredible crop.
It’s easy to see people who are like the seed that falls on the path and amongst the rocks. But it’s the seed amongst the weeds that I fear is the greatest threat within the Christian church. I have no interest in placing blame or pointing fingers, but this is your invitation to not be like the seed that fails to reproduce, but rather through developing good roots – spending time in God’s presence every day, seeking ways to encourage others and to be encouraged by others onto love and good deeds, may you be like the seed that reaps a bumper crop. Be authentic!
- What stood out for you in today’s story? Do you have any questions?
- What habits do you think are important to develop to ensure that you build a strong relationship with Jesus?
- Who can you encourage tomorrow as they grow in their knowledge of who Jesus is? How could you do that?
- Take time to listen for God’s promptings this week as you spend time in prayer, reading God’s word (the bible) and observing the world around you.