Monday, October 20, 2014

Jesus talks about People’s Attitudes toward God and His Word (A Reflection on Mark 4:3-20)

To know the setting of this parable, we must know what is a parable (click HERE A Reflection on Mark4:1-2). A parable, in the simplest meaning, is a simple story drawn from ordinary nature or everyday life which conveyed spiritual truth. In this instance, Jesus talked about four kinds of soil to illustrate four kinds of attitudes toward God and His Word. I think Jesus probably told the parable as He and His followers were looking at the sight of an actual sower at work on the hills above the lake (4:1). Just my assumption.

Listen! Once there was a man who went out to sow grain. As he scattered the seed in the field, some of it fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up” (Mark 4:3-4, GNB). Actually, this parable is self-explain in Mark 4:13-20. The sower is the one who sows God’s Word. Some people are like the seeds that fall along the path or hard-packed roadside soil that represents someone with a hardened heart. The Word doesn’t even have a chance to take root – and as soon as they hear the message, Satan or “the birds” in the form of temptations, resistances and stubbornness comes and takes or “ate” it away.

Some of it fell on rocky ground, where there was little soil. The seeds soon sprouted, because the soil wasn’t deep. Then, when the sun came up, it burned the young plants; and because the roots had not grown deep enough, the plants soon dried up” (Mark 4:5-6). Some people are like the seeds that fall on rocky ground that represents someone with a shallow heart. They hear the Word of course and “receive it gladly.” They will follow the shout ‘Amen’, ‘Halleluiah’, ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ and jump up during praise & worship and even take notes during Bible Study, probably pray speaking in tongue too and always attend church services and fellowship. I know people like that. But sadly, the Word doesn’t sink deep into their hearts – only on surface level – and therefore they are very fragile in faith. So when “the sun” in the form of trouble or persecution comes, they “dried up” give up at once.

Some of the seed fell among thorn bushes, which grew up and choked the plants, and they didn’t bear grain” (Mark 4:7). Some people are like the seeds sown among the thorn bushes that represents someone with a crowded heart. They are no doubt are interested in the Word but the worries about this life, the love of riches, and all other kinds of desires crowd in and choke the Word. I know people who always make excuses such as ‘God will understand why I have to go to work but not to church’, ‘It doesn’t matter if I read the Word or not as long as I’m sincere. Beside I have many things to do’, ‘I want to be rich! If I get rich I will give more to God’, ‘I don’t want people to think that I’m too religious’ etc. All of these choke out love for God and His Word and so they “don’t bear fruit.”

But some seeds fell in good soil, and the plants sprouted, grew, and bore grain: some had thirty grains, others sixty, and others one hundred” (Mark 4:8). Some people, very glad to know, are like seeds sown in good soil that represents someone with a receptive heart, who cultivates an openness to God and His Word. The Word can grow and “bear fruit” because they not only hear the Word but also accept it wholeheartedly. They are receptive to God and His Word. I know that whenever I share the Word at campus fellowships most people will go back home empty handed (even some of the leaders too) but I trust and believe that someone in the group – two or three students – are receptive to the Word and really allow God to speaks and transform them through His Word. I can see that they will grow into maturity in faith much faster than everyone else.

As a closing, we must remember that a farmer “the sower” is NOT responsible for making the seeds grow into plants. “The sower” is only responsible for preparing and maintaining the soil. God has endowed “the seed” with the capacity to grow into a fruitful plant all by itself; “the sower” can only manage the conditions of the soil. Similarly, as God’s followers – you and me – are responsible to cultivate the soil in our own hearts. Are we hardened our hearts? or having a shallow heart? or are our hearts too crowded? or do we have a receptive heart to God and His Word? (Ask the Holy Spirit to cultivate your heart). We prepare the soil and God will produce unbelievable growth!

Listen, then, if you have ears! (Mark 4:9)
Don’t try to apply this parable to others without first of all applying it to ourselves.
Think it through, search our own hearts and respond accordingly. God be with you.

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