“Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow” (Mark 4:3).
The parable of the sower is one of Christ’s most famous parables. (See also Matthew 13:1-9). It speaks of the spreading of the Gospel and how it is received. Sadly, the Gospel seed has a success rate of only twenty-five percent – not because the seed is no good, but because not all the soil is receptive.
Christ mentions four kinds of “soil” on which the Gospel seed falls. Each soil represents the kind of heart that hears the Gospel:
- Wayside soil (4:4, 15). Christ explains that these are people who hear the good news of salvation through faith in Christ, but never fully appreciate its worth. Matthew 13:19 describes these people as those who hear the word of the kingdom, but don’t understand it. The phrase translated as “understandeth it not” comes from a Greek phrase meaning to “fail to regard something.” In other words, they hear it, but they do not lay it to heart. Satan then comes along, takes advantage of that indifference, and snatches away the seed before it even has a chance to take root.
- Stony soil (4:6, 16). These are people who appreciate the message and are enthusiastic about its beauty, but who also do not take it fully to heart. To them the Gospel is like the next big thing until the next big thing comes along.
- Thorny soil (4:7, 18-19). These are people who hear the Gospel and allow it to take root, but then they lose their focus on eternity and become obsessed with the things of this life. Sometimes they confuse worldly success with spiritual success. In the end, they lose their fruitfulness for God. Scripture does not seem to deny their genuine conversion, but does emphasize their failure to produce anything that will last into eternity.
- Good ground (4:8, 19). These are people who truly take to heart the truth of the Gospel. They accept Christ and let His Word take deep hold in their lives and they become fruitful.
In with this parable Christ mentions how that a candle is not meant to be put under a bushel or a bed, but is meant to be out in the open where others can see (4:21-23). He talks about being good stewards of the truth we hear (4:24-25). Then He likens the kingdom of God to a farmer who does his part in planting the seed and trusts God to cause the growth (4:26-29), and when the harvest is come he makes no delay in harvesting the fruit. Finally, He finishes with the mustard seed illustration again (4:30-32) . But why here? Consider the illustrations leading up to this one:
- Being the proper soil.
- Being a light that is meant to be seen, not hidden.
- Being a good steward of the truth we hear.
- Being faithful like a wise farmer is and not letting the harvest go to waste.
When Christ ends with the mustard seed illustration here, it’s clear that what He wants is a church full of believers with deep roots, not just so they can stand for themselves, but so they can be a blessing to others.
Mark 4:32 “But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.”
We’re talking about miraculous growth (change to maturity) that can only be explained as supernatural. That comes from planting ourselves in the truth of God’s Word and letting that truth bring forth fruit in our lives. Can I explain how God’s Word changes people? No. But I have seen it and it is miraculous! Yet it only comes to those who are faithfully obeying God’s Word. So the question is: How deep are your roots?