Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
– Mark 4:1-9
Regarding Mark 4:3 “Every true believer should go out with this one design – to scatter the good seed of the kingdom and to try to obtain for it an entrance into the hearts of their hearers.”
Regarding Mark 4:4 “The sower could not help that. It was not his fault but the fault of the hard path and of the birds. So when the word of God is denied entrance into people’s hearts, the witness will not be blamed by his or her Master; the fault lies between the hard heart that will not let the seed enter in and Satan who came and took it away.”
Regarding Mark 4:5 “Persons with shallow characters are often quick in receiving religious impressions, but they also lose them just as quickly. Those who are hasty and impulsive are as easily turned the wrong way as the right way.”
Regarding Mark 4:8 “There were three failures but one success, or perhaps we might more correctly say three successes. Three sorts of ground yielded nothing, but at last the sower came to a piece of soil that had been well prepared and, therefore, was good ground that yielded fruit, though the quantity varied even there – ‘thirty, sixty, and a hundred time.’”
– Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermons
This parable has haunted me. I beat myself up over the lack of fruit from my view, so how can I be among the seed in the ‘good soil’. I fear the soil with the weeds (thorns – but don’t most nasty weeds have thorns?). While my life has been lived among the weeds, I have tried to stay faithful to God.
I have read that C. S. Lewis had a similar haunting, but over the parable of the sheep and goats. Is that one homeless man that I ignored really the Son of God? You help so many, but what of the One?
Sometimes we need to look at the parables from a different viewpoint. Spurgeon has done so here. Let’s not look at this parable from the viewpoint of the seed, but of the sower.
That is a big load off my mind. Now, my only concern is tossing seed. It reminds me of the leaf lettuce patch, or the radish patch, in my old garden. Prepare the bed meticulously, pulverizing every clod of dirt into a powder. Then, sow the seed evenly, or best as possible. Then a slight pass of the rake to hide the seed under a minimal amount of soil. That would not work with iceberg lettuce that forms a head. The head needs room to grow. But leaf lettuce, or mustard, collard greens, etc., can be sown.
As a sower of the word of God, the viewpoint that Spurgeon is seeing is that we simply sow our good seed.
Someone may read what we have written or hear what we say and reject the message. God takes care of the salvation. We just spread the Word. We should never beat ourselves up over the seeming lack of fruit. The fruit is in God’s hands. It is by Grace that we are saved through Faith and even that is a gift from God.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.