Sowing Seeds

The Parable of the Sower provides the key to understanding the parables of Jesus. The story’s point is that the Kingdom of God began to invade the present age starting with the proclamation of the Gospel by the “Son of Man.” That process commenced with his announcement of the Good News when he was in “Galilee of the Nations.” Ever since then, the Kingdom has been advancing across the Earth though largely unnoticed by humanity and even by many of his followers.

What is a parable? The Greek word for “parable” means “something that is thrown alongside, to cast beside” (Strong’s - #G3850). It is a saying that is laid alongside something else for comparison, hence, an analogy. His parables were stories drawn from everyday life that featured jarring images intended to grab attention. Each parable illustrated one or two points of comparison, and most often, the subject was the “Kingdom of God” - (Mark 4:1-9).

Sowing seeds - Photo by Dương Trí on Unsplash
[Photo by Dương Trí on Unsplash]

In the
Parable of the Sower, the stress is on how the seed interacts with different soil types once it is sown. The “Sower,” the “seed,” and the method of sowing are the same for each soil type. What happens to the “seed” once it contacts the “soil” is the concern of the story. Moreover, the “seed” falls on four soil types - hardened, rocky, thorny, and fertile soil.

The description of harvests ranging from thirty to sixty to a hundredfold is extraordinary, an exaggerated figure designed to catch our eye. With his Kingdom, regardless of its insignificant beginnings, the results in the end will exceed all expectations.+

MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM


The disciples asked Jesus why “outsiders” received his teachings in parables and without explanations, yet insiders received them with explanations. His parables separated insiders from outsiders. They both revealed AND concealed information. They were a blessing to some but brought judgment to others.

  • (Mark 4:10-12) - “And when he was alone, they who were about him with the twelve questioned him as to the parables. And he was saying to them: To you, the mystery has been given of the kingdom of God, whereas, to them who are outside, in parables are all things coming to pass that they may surely look and yet not see, and surely hear and yet not understand, lest once they should return and be forgiven.

His saying in the preceding passage alludes to a verse in the Book of Isaiah:

  • Go! And say to this people: HEAR ON BUT DO NOT DISCERN. SEE ON BUT DO NOT PERCEIVE, stupefy the heart of this people, and their ears make heavy, and their eyes overspread, LEST THEY SEE WITH THEIR EYES, and with their ears should hear, and their heart should discern and come back, AND THEY BE HEALED.

The prophet received a vision and was called to bring God’s words to Israel. But the people would not heed, so judgment followed. Nevertheless, a remnant of Israel did heed the prophet’s words.

The contrast in the saying of Jesus was between those who heard the parable and received its explanation and those who did not. Some men reacted in faith, others were blinded by unbelief and rejected his words. The failure to understand was a sign of judgment on the person’s hardness of heart.

Jesus declared that his disciples were “given the mystery of the Kingdom of God.” The Greek noun rendered “mystery” does not refer to something esoteric or mysterious, but to that which is hidden (mystérionStrong’s - #G3466).

The unveiling of the mystery to anyone is “given.” It cannot be acquired through human effort or intellect. It must be received from God. Thus, only those with eyes to see” perceive that the Kingdom is growing and progressing in the world, a process that remains hidden from all others.

The word “parable” occurs twelve times in the Gospel of Mark. Each time it is used in a context of opposition to Jesus. Through parables, he revealed the “Mystery of the Kingdom” to some hearers, but he also exposed his opponents and their hardness of heart.

The parable describes the process of how the Kingdom grows in the world, and how men respond to it. God’s sovereignty is being planted and implemented through the proclamation of the Gospel, first by Jesus, and then by his followers - (Mark 4:13-20).

The proclamation of his Good News by a ragtag group of Galileans appeared weak to the human mind, but that small beginning initiated something far larger. In the end, the Gospel would usher in the long-promised reign of God.

Sunflower Sunset - Photo by Jeb Buchman on Unsplash
[Photo by Jeb Buchman on Unsplash]

The
Parable of the Sower was about the four different ways the word of the Kingdom was received in the ministry of the “Son of Man.” The seed sown on the hardened soil met with no positive response. Some seed was received initially with enthusiasm but then forsaken when circumstances became challenging. Some received the seed, but then it was smothered by the competing voices and ideas of this age.

However, the seed that fell on good soil represented the men and women who heard and responded in faith to the Gospel, and then they bore fruit as they became productive members of the Kingdom.

Jesus faced outright rejection by some, initial acceptance by others who were not prepared to pay the required costs and acceptance by still others who later recanted because of the deceitfulness of riches.

It is the same for every disciple who heeds the call and begins to sow the seed of the Kingdom of God. Each of us must be prepared for the different kinds of reactions our words will receive as we preach the Good News of God’s Kingdom.



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