Mark 4 -- 5
Jesus described four kinds of responses from those who hear His Word in a parable: 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). No matter how precious the seed, it can only fall on the ground; it cannot fall into the soil unless the soil has been prepared. Such a loss is never felt by the indifferent hearer because the seed's worth has never been experienced.
Like the seed sown on stony ground, others who hear His Word seem immediately 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 is 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 they are double minded. 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 (James 1:8). 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 an hundred (Mark 4:20). This soil represents 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, areas in their lives that have not been yielded to God, and 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: Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. . . . For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:34,36).
For Mark 4:12: See Isa. 6:9-10.
Government Official: Rep. Steven Rothman (NJ) · Pray for Pastor S.I. Ombima, Swahili translator in Kenya · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast in memory of Andrew Scott Bergey · Country: Equatorial Guinea (379,000) in western Africa · Major language: Spanish · Freedom for churches at this time · 71% Roman Catholic; 19% ancestral spirit worship and medicine men; 6% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Pray in faith, without doubting (James 1:6).
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