These are Pastor Buddy’s sermon notes from his April 28, 2013 on the Parable of the Sower (aka the Parable of the Soils) from the series on the Gospel of Mark. (remember, these are notes, it is not written like a regular blog post). You can listen to the podcast here.
In Mark 4:1-20, Jesus relates what is often called the Parable of the Sower or the Parable of the Soils. In a somewhat unique turn, Jesus also provides some insight into the meaning of the parable.
Parables Are Wondrous Things — Learning from a parable is unlike other types of learning. We are not just “receiving information that we are to memorize. Instead, when we seek to learn the truths contained in a parable (or “story”), we must “think it through.” We should place ourselves in the parable as characters, ask questions about what is happening and what else could have happened, etc. By doing that, we will learn deeper truths about God and also about ourselves.
Here are some things that I learned while studying this scripture:
God Gives His Grace Indiscriminately
God doesn’t just offer His grace to those people who are a “good bet.” Instead, He offers it to all – without prejudice or discrimination. No matter where we are in life, His grace is there for our receiving.
God Gives His Grace Lavishly
God isn’t stingy with His grace. He offers us more than enough “seed” for His truth to take root in our lives. We might fail to recognize the lavishness of His grace, but it’s there nonetheless.
The Impact of God’s Grace Depends on Our Heart’s Condition
Notice what is different among the four soils in the parable — the condition of the soil. The sower is the same. The seed is the same. The sower’s activity is the same. What is different is the condition of the soil itself, nothing else.
“The Path Soil”
Mark 4:15 – Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.
note: there is a spiritual battle going on for our souls. note: we ignore God’s Word as if we were listening to an airline stewardess give pre-flight emergency instructions. It’s a life and death matter, but we just let it go by as if it has no importance.
“The Rocky Soil”
Mark 4:16-17 – Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
note: we aren’t likely to have special police in our church parking lots any time soon. But for us, the “trouble because of the word” often comes when we are called to obey the word in personal relationships when we don’t want to — for e.g., forgiving others, working on our marriages, being humble, serving first, etc.
“The Thorny Soil”
Mark 4:18-19 – Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Many of us allow God’s Word to be active in our lives, but it is prevented from bearing fruit because we fail to follow God as our first and primary priority. Instead, we let the worries and distractions of life get in the way — e.g.s, our jobs, money, busyness, kids, how we look, etc.
“The Good Soil”
Mark 4:20 – Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop – thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.
Notice that the good soil: receives the word immediately so that it cannot be snatched away, receives the word deeply so that it can not be uprooted easily, and receives the word exclusively so that it’s fruit is not choked by other things of this word.
Do a soil check — which type are you? What is the condition of your heart today? Do you need to prepare your “soil” to hear the Word of God and to fully receive His lavish Grace?