October 14

Read Mark 4 -- 5

In Today’s Reading:

Jesus' parables; the storm stilled; the legion of demons cast out; Jairus' daughter raised.

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, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing (John 15:5).

Thought for Today: It is not what a person possesses that is important, but who possesses him.

Word Studies:

5:26 bettered = improved; 5:30 virtue = healing power.

Cross Reference:

For Mark 4:12: See Isa. 6:9-10.

Prayer Needs:

Government Official: Rep. Steven Rothman (NJ) · Pray for one another · Country: Australia (19 million) an island continent between the Indian and Pacific Oceans · Major languages: English and native languages · Religious freedom · 40% Protestant; 27% Roman Catholic; 3% Orthodox; 2% Muslim · Prayer Suggestion: Remember that prayer changes things (James 5:16-18).

Memory Verse for the Week: John 15:5