Mark 4:1-8 (NIV)
1Again 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. 2 He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: 3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus told his disciples, and the large crowd that gathered around him, the Parable of the Sower. Jesus often spoke in parables to the crowds, however when He was alone with His disciples; he frequently explained the meaning behind the parable. Often it was because the disciples were slow to understand the meaning of the parable.
Jesus is telling us about four types of people and their response when they are exposed to the teachings of Jesus and the word of God. The first group hears about God but they fall prey to Satan and the many other desires of this world. They reject God or fail to take God seriously because they are interested in following other idols. The second group joyfully receives the word and believes in God, but they lack a firm foundation for their faith. So when misfortune or suffering comes their way, they “quickly fall away,” because their faith is weak. In the third group, are those who hear the word but allow the many “worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things to come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” The fourth group, are the ones who “hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop – thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”
We all know people that we could place in these four groups. There are many people who are lost and in desperate need of being exposed to the compassion and the word of God. These are the folks who have totally rejected God and His word and they live a life that is in direct contradiction to all that God stands for. These people don’t even consider or think about God; their minds are on something completely different. They have zero interest in knowing God.
The second group are those who joyfully accept the word of God and even come to believe in Him, accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior. And then for various reasons, they fail to become firmly established in their faith. Something else is always more important than growing in their faith. So when trouble or misfortune comes their way, they quickly fall away from the faith. I know people who seemed to be on the right track until trouble suddenly came their way. During this difficult time, they completely fell apart and begin to make bad decisions. Instead of turning to God, they looked to other things to help them deal with their troubles. Drugs, alcohol, adultery, and gambling are but a few of the choices these people made instead of trying to draw closer to God and to rely on Him, instead of these other immoral alternatives.
In the third group, are those who hear the word and come to believe in Christ, but they become somewhat overwhelmed or consumed with their day to day lives. They allow worry to rule their lives or they have a greater desire for wealth, status, or job promotions, than for God. These types of people sit beside you in church, but they fail to bear much, if any, fruit.
And finally, there are those who hear and accept the word of God, profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and go out into the world and make disciples. They bear fruit! Instead of relying on the false sense of security that wealth seemingly provides, these disciples rely on Christ, their Savior. These are followers who have great compassion on other people, especially those people whom society has shunned. These are followers who go out into third world and war-torn countries, facing great danger while spreading the Gospel and compassion of Jesus Christ. These are followers who stand up for those in our society who have no one to speak for them. These are followers who also sit beside you in church and work tirelessly in our communities to care for those less fortunate and to tell them about the Gospel message.
Which category would you fall into? Your answer is between you and God. I have purposely not included Mark 4:13-20, in which Jesus explains this parable. You will have to open up your Bible and read this for yourself. And maybe, you just might continue reading. May God always bless you and reveal himself to you as you read His Holy Word!