Mark 4:13-20: Timeless truths.
“13 Then Jesus said to them, ‘Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. 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. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 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. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 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. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop – some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.’ ” NIV UK
In Jesus’ day, there was a widely held expectation that the Kingdom of God would break into the world order with a huge explosion, and carry all before it. So Jesus had to manage some expectations. In the short term, that was not going to happen.
For many years, this parable has helped me to understand a number of ministry disappointments. It is true that some converts shoot off like a rocket, and never look back (20). However, there are many who profess Christianity, but quickly (or eventually) come to a halt. They drop out of the race. They run well for a time, and then pull up with a terrible limp and a horrible grimace. There will be no more running for them. Why should it be like this? Well, Jesus did not tell us to expect otherwise. When people ‘fall away’ we will still be sad. Of course we will. However, if we have paid attention to the teaching of the Master, we will probably not be shocked or surprised.
When you go out to ‘’sow’’ the ‘’seed’’ of the Word, you will experience certain realities. They are by no means all pleasant. You will find:
- That you are in a spiritual conflict (15b);
- That certain people have only superficial belief (17), and so their shelf-life is limited;
- That the Word of God can be ‘’choked’’ in some (18, 19). Such people, I think, can be found in churches Sunday by Sunday. They may be professing Christians, but the Word is ‘’unfruitful’’ in them because they have heart trouble;
- That some people who respond positively will grow significantly and wield enormous Kingdom influence (20).
PRAYER: Lord God, sometimes I feel disappointed. You know I do. But please help me to persevere in sowing the seed to the end of my days, thankful for the fruit I have seen, and believing for yet more fruit if I will just keep going,by your grace.