John Barnett Discover the Book Daily Devotional
<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - Mar. 23, 2010

  • 2010 Mar 23

The Hard Heart


Why do some people never respond to the Gospel?

Why do some people hear God's Word and immediately respond and others wait so long?

Why do believers sometimes grow for a while and then stop growing?

What makes us cold as believers at times, and other times feel so distant from God?


Christ answers these questions in His parable in Mark 4:3-9.


Christ's insight into human nature is piercing. His analysis of human responsibility is sobering. And His explanation of life around us should make us pay much closer attention to our spiritual condition. All this because He was and is--the Greatest Doctor of the Human Heart.


Jesus takes a simple story and launches into one of the clearest explanations we could ever have about the inner workings of our hearts. No one knows hearts like Jesus. No one diagnoses the condition of a heart like Christ's diagnosis. His diagnosis is complete, accurate, and exact. So what does He say? If you listen carefully, Jesus explains everything we need to know about our spiritual responsibility to respond to God.


Jesus enters into the unseen world of spiritual life. The invisible realities that govern the working of God in the hearts of mankind. Jesus explains to us what sin does in both believers lives and unbelievers lives in this amazing sermon on the parable of the one soil and the four hearts!


Move down to verse 14. Here Jesus opens for us the meaning of this parable. He explains the farming picture and applies it to the individual hearts of hearers. He puts the responsibility for hearing upon each individual. And uses the four soil conditions to illustrate four different responses to God's Word.


What we see by this parable is that you can only understand spiritual truth if Jesus is your Teacher. That was the lesson they had to learn. And that is where each of us are today - needing to open our hearts and receive Christ's words.


1.      In v. 14a the sower is anyone spreading the message of salvation like Jesus asked us to do.

2.      In v. 14b the seed is God's Word (see also Luke 8.11). Only the Word that enters the heart and becomes a part of that like is real.

3.      In v. 15, the soil is the human heart.

4.      In vv. 15-20, the four responses to the Word are based on the condition of the soil (or heart).

5.      In v. 20, only one soil (heart) experiences what the Word is supposed to do when received - bear a crop for harvest.


Oceans of truth lay before us who have the entire Word before us to use to compare and expand the truth Jesus gave to the disciples in this explanation.


The symbol in Christ's story of God's Word being like seed is so true. We can't make seeds; they are part of God's creation. They are alive. God's Word is ‘living and abiding'. So when we proclaim the Gospel it can't be our message - it must be His Word. Jesus is explaining why the same living Word makes no impact in some hearts. The condition of their heart is reflected in their response to God's Word.


To continue reading this message on the Hard Heart please copy and paste this URL into your browser bar:

For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit
click here to listen to Dr. John Barnett at

More Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett Articles