reMARKable

By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
March 22, 2015

Mark 4:1-20

Like the seed sown by the 1st century Middle Eastern farmer in Jesus’ parable in Mark 4:1-20, our lives also need to have the right type of soil to make the seed of God’s Word grow, develop, and produce fruit. The soil represents the state of our hearts to hear God’s Word.

This Parable of the Sower makes us question: “Which type of soil am I?” The answer to this question determines the quality of our life here on earth with God, as well as to our passage into eternity with Him.

1. Am I the soil of Mark 4:4 where the seed “fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it all up”? Because a path is hardened and flattened from tread, the seeds cannot penetrate and are eaten by the birds. We might occasionally attend church, but is our heart hardened to God’s Truth?
2. Am I the soil of Mark 4:5 where the seed “fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root”? Does our faith have the depth to stand up to the trials and temptations of life?
3. Am I the soil of Mark 4:7 where the seed “fell among the thorns…grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain”? Are our lives so distracted from things like busyness and worry, that we allow them to drive us rather than God? Have the weeds in our lives weakened us? Do they threaten to choke out God’s Truth, ruin it, and make our lives fruitless?
4. Am I the soil in Mark 4:8 where the seed “fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying 30, 60, even a 100 times”? The life with “good soil” is not perfect; in fact, it is often very messy. In this soil, our lives are vulnerable to sin, but with our openness to God, we can still grow with God’s help, and produce good fruit.

Observations about how the Parable of the Sower applies to our lives:

1. The focus of this parable is not primarily about clarifying who will be saved, who will go to heaven, or who is a “real” disciple. Neither Jesus here, nor Mark elsewhere in his gospel, answers specifically who is going to heaven. The focus is on how we listen, hear, and receive the Word of God. Will receive it and have it penetrate/affect us, or will it be choked out?

2. The reality is that we are all capable of all four responses every time we come into contact with God’s Word.
a. Like the 1st soil, we can close ourselves off to God (especially if we see it as a threat).
b. Like the 2nd soil, we could fade away from the life of faith, cave in to temptation, and produce no fruit.
c. Like the 3rd soil, our hectic/distracted/weedy lives could choke the life out of us, even when we are exposed to God’s Word.
d. Like the 4th soil, we can be empowered by God to bear fruit in our faith, our character, and the relationships we have.

3. This parable is a warning to consider/ask ourselves/take stock of our primary response to God’s Word, which will reveal the condition of our hearts toward God. If we are consistently hardened, rocky, weedy, Jesus is showing us here that He is not interested in our minimum, but in spiritually healthy people doing what He wants us to do: have depth, persevere, and bear fruit in our lives and others.

The Good News is that God can change the soil of our lives; we can become the new creation of II Cor. 5 if we open our hearts to His Truth. We can change not into perfection but into amazing, faithful, joyful Christians who bear fruit.

If you personally have not seen this happen, then ask God and He will change your heart and bring you back to real life, His life.

Keep asking two questions:
1. What is your primary soil type, your basic response to the message of Jesus Christ?
2. How will you respond the next time you come into contact with the Word of God?