“Hearken: behold, there went out a sower to sow.” – Mark 4:3-20
At this very moment, while typing, I am waiting for the arrival of a landscaping expert to quote replacing our front … well, “weed” with a new lawn; and there are a few other items of repairs and maintenance needed.
Interestingly, I am reading Mark 4: 1-20. It is one of Jesus’ parables usually referred to as, “The Parable of the Sower.”
The story goes like this:
“Hearken: behold, there went out a sower to sow. And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the wayside and the fowls of the air came and devoured it. And some fell on the stony ground where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell upon thorns and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth some thirty-fold, and some sixty, and some an hundred! And he said unto them, he that hath hears to hear, let him hear.” - Mark 4 3-9
Here is the setting: There were so many people following Jesus on this occasion that he literally had to get into a boat, push it off from shore and yell to them from the water! This great multitude was waiting to hear something tremendously powerful; breathtakingly brilliant; unimaginably insightful! In reality they probably wanted a hand out – Jesus was known to be able to stir up a great meal from little or nothing…
But what does Jesus do? Out of nowhere, he stands up and tells this story! He simply tells the story about a fella planting! He may even have been referring to someone he actually saw at that very moment in the distance. There is no “opening act” to get the crowd settled. No orchestra, dancing girls or pyrotechnics. He tells a very simple, every-day-occurrence story and pretty much ends with, “thank you and good night.” He takes His bow and leaves. Huh? Excuse me? That’s it?
Use your imagination on this one…
A bit later, our attention is drawn to the disciples and a few of his closest followers. They are alone. Imagine their conversation:
“You ask Him...” “Heck no! I’m not going to ask Him; YOU ask Him…” “Why me? I asked Him the last time! YOU ASK HIM!”
You see a slight grin on Jesus’ face. He knows full well their childlike bewilderment.
Jesus explains the Sower (Jesus,Himself) sows the seed (His Word). And the various circumstance upon which His Word is sewn are the various circumstances of our hearts.
For some, the very moment this wonderful redeeming Word of God’s love touches their hearts - it vanishes – taken away by evil reasoning, “Why, THIS couldn’t be true. It goes against everything I was ever taught; ridiculous!”
For others it sounds kinda good! After all, it’s kinda the “in thing” to believe something. “To each his own; whatever turns you on. It’s cool.” But as soon as someone questions them on this new “faith-thing” maybe poking fun, criticizing their gullibility, it loses its luster. They were just, “checking it out; nothing serious.”
For others, it touches their hearts, may even take root but soon they become confused. Doubt sets in. They begin to worry about this “faith”. They question what it will truly cost. Might this new faith require them to change their lifestyle? Will they have to give away their money, leave their friends, and suffer persecution and shame? Their unfounded fear, doubt and confusion chokes them from ever experiencing the bountiful blessings meant for them and for those who know them.
And finally, there are those whose hearts are ready to receive the Word. It’s meaning reaches deep into their souls and they thrive. There is new joy and happiness! Others recognize in them a peace that seems to pass all understanding! There is just “something” about them that is wonderfully compelling!
This is the story. This is the way it has been taught. This is where it often ends; with an emphasis upon the sower and an encouragement for each of us to sow seeds. Or, and emphasis upon the seeds to explain that not everyone will accept the Word. But I would like to close by focusing upon – the soils.
You see, what is most encouraging to me is the fact that the only thing missing in this story is proper care for the soils. Perhaps today you feel as if you have been cast along the side of the road with no hope – your future looks dark and lonely. I've got Good News! This Word is for you! Perhaps you’ve heard the Word of God only “put it on” in a fashionable manner rather than letting it sink deep with your heart and empower you with a new joy, a new thrill for life and for living! I’ve got Good News! This Word is for you! Maybe the stresses of your life or job have made it impossible to even find joy. Sure, you’ve heard the Word; maybe you even believe, but life is unfair and its torment dominates your world. I’ve got Good News! This Word is for you!
HERE IS THE IMPORTANT POINT, with care, with commitment, with love and proper husbandry, hard ground can be made soft, stony ground can be made smooth, thorns can be removed. The hearts of mankind need not stay forever barren! Let that sink in! Never give up on your life! Never give up on the lives of those you love! Through the love of Christ, the hearts of mankind can become wonderfully fruitful!
Well, there's a knock at the door. Must be the landscaper. I've got a little bit of maintenance to do...
So what? SOW SEEDS!
God bless you today!