Read Mark 4 -- 5
Jesus described in a parable four kinds of responses from those who hear His Word saying: Behold, there went out a sower to sow (Mark 4:1-3). Some respond with self-destroying indifference, representing seed that fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up (4:4). The indifferent hearer's heart is open to the pleasures of self-interest, but closed to the Word of God. Satan comes immediately, and takes away the Word that was sown in their hearts (4:15). Such a loss is never felt by the indifferent hearer because the seed's worth has never been experienced.
Others who hear His Word are like the seed sown on stony ground; at first they seem receptive, but soon lose interest. They have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution arises for the Word's sake, immediately they are offended (4:16-17). "Stony places" illustrate solid rock beneath a shallow covering of soil. These "converts" appear very promising and, at first, appear full of life; but, when they are faced with a rebuke, the loss of a friend or a job, or even a correction from the Word of God, they are offended, and quit, because there are no real spiritual roots to their commitment.
Still other "converts" are like seed sown among thorns; such as hear the Word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful (4:18-19). This represents those who are neither indifferent and hardened against the Word as in the first example, nor are they shallow and easily discouraged, as in the second. Instead, they seem to recognize the true worth of Christ and Eternal Life, but a double minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). They never see the importance of a break from their past. The cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches . . . that choke the Word, gradually take control of their hearts, and the Word of God and spiritual desires are eventually crowded out.
But the parable goes on to say: These are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the Word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred (Mark 4:20). This illustrates the few who not only believe the Word of God but are faithfully obedient to it. By repentance and faith they break up their rocky ground -- the areas in their lives that have not been yielded to God. And they root out the weeds and thorns of mixed motives that destroy spiritual effectiveness.
The extent of our fruitfulness depends on how thoroughly we weed out material, social, political, and personal interests that would keep us from producing a hundredfold for the Lord (Matthew 13:8,23). No one needs to be a dropout or be left out. Jesus has said to all: I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing (John 15:5).
Word Studies: 5:26 bettered means improved; 5:30 virtue means healing power.
For Mark 4:12: See Isa. 6:9-10.
Government Official: Rep. Steven Rothman (NJ) · Pray for Susie Wiley and the Bible Pathway Radio Broadcasts on WYAM-AM, Decatur AL · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast in honor of Dr. John A. Hash and Family · Country: Cape Verde (405,000) 15 islands in the Atlantic Ocean, 390 miles off the coast of Africa · Major languages: English and French · Religious freedom · 91% Roman Catholic; 3% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Diligently seek the Lord in prayer and He will bless your efforts (Hebrews 11:6).
Memory Verse for the Week: John 15:5