Jesus was first and foremost a teacher anointed by the Spirit of God. One of Jesus teaching methods was the use of parables. In this new series, we will look at one of these parables, The Parable of the Sower. Does this parable apply to us in the church? If it does what powerful truths can we glean from it and how can we apply these truths in our everyday life.
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Introduction to Mark’s Gospel
- The purpose for emphasizing the introduction is to frame Jesus words on parables. The section includes several parables but starts out with the number one parable, the sower.
- You can find the entire Introduction to the Gospel of Mark here.
- Four main ideas permeate Mark’s gospel; Ministry, Miracles, Opposition and Passion.
- Unlike the other synoptic gospels, Mark doesn’t contain a birth account of Jesus.
- What you have in Mark’s gospel as he leads up to the parables of chapter four is an establishment of Jesus healing and delivering ministry.
- When you get to chapter four, Mark is saying in effect, ‘Okay now you have seen what Jesus can do. Now, look at what Jesus said.’
- First on the list of all Jesus said? The Parable of the Sower.
- Its first place status gives an air of importance to this parable.
Jesus Purpose for Parables
Mark 4:11–13 (KJV)
11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: 12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. 13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?
- Look at the scene beginning in verse one.
Mark 4:1 (KJV)
1 And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.
- Jesus is in a boat pushed off from the land.
- The crowd including the disciples are on the land in anticipation.
Question: How did the disciples come to an understanding of this parable?
- These same disciples, to whom the mystery of the kingdom belonged, stood with the crowd on the land.
- They heard the same words, at the same time, as the rest of the crowd did.
- No one understood the parable upon first hearing.
- No one understood the spiritual applications Jesus made during this time. Not even the disciples.
- Jesus states only a certain group of individuals would have access to understanding the parable.
- Was Jesus being exclusive?
- Is that who God is, an exclusive God?
- Is this snobbish behavior on the part of Jesus or is there something else going on?
- Some scholars have proposed that Jesus was just acting on the foreknowledge which He possessed. And spoke in parables because he already knew who would receive it. In other words, the ‘casting pearls before swine’ angle.
- One of the problems with this view is that Jesus did not have foreknowledge as God. He operated His ministry as a man anointed by the Spirit of God (Mat. 3:16).
- Jesus did not known who would receive His words generally. He only displayed such knowledge as the Spirit willed for Him to have it (1Cor. 12:7).
- It is clear something else is going on besides exclusivity.
- How did the disciples gain understanding then?
Mark 4:10 (KJV)
10 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.
- The disciples walked up to Jesus when He was alone and asked questions about what He said.
- Who were the blind who didn’t see that day?
- Who were the hearers who didn’t hear?
- Who were the fulfillers of Isiah’s prophecy?
- It simply was those who didn’t follow up with Jesus.
- It was those who didn’t get Jesus alone and ask.
- There is something absolutely necessary about you coming to Jesus and asking Him questions.
- When you hear a sermon at church, what do you do with it?
- What do you do with the Words you hear?
- Do you take notes or are you satisfied with just religious hearing?
- I mean, you have done your duty man. You came to church. You heard the Word. But…
- Hearing is never enough.
- People who receive revelation, dig.
- People who receive revelation, search.
- People who receive insight, seek, knock, ask.
- They pray. They ask God questions. They are peppering Him all the time.
- Do you desire insight into kingdom affairs?
- Do you want those doors to open to you? Then…
- Just ask (Mat. 7:7).
- It’s yours for the asking.
- Asking Jesus questions displays an important spiritual trait, hunger.
- Those who hunger and thirst enough to ask will be filled. That’s a Bible fact (Mat. 5:6).
The Biggest Parable of Them All
Mark 4:13 (KJV)
13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?
- The key to gaining insight from the ‘rest of Jesus parables’ is to know, understand AND walk in the light of this parable.
- Jesus is saying, “Don’t bother with my other sayings, until you get this one under your belt.”
- This elevates the Parable of the Sower to the head of the list.
- It has supreme status among the parables of Jesus.
- Is there some mystic clue in this parable that, if found, would be the key to unlocking all the other ones?
- Maybe the Parable of the Sower is a treasure map of some kind?
- Haven’t you read some of Jesus parables and had trouble understanding what He was saying?
- Maybe the reason you had trouble is that you didn’t have the key? Right? Wrong.
- There is no missing key.
- The Parable of the Sower is simply a foundational building-block parable.
- Jesus emphasized it because He knew God’s Word is a stepping stone to all things God.
Our Responsibility To God’s Word
- Understanding the Word of God is always a line upon line affair.
Isaiah 28:10 (KJV)
10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; Line upon line, line upon line; Here a little, and there a little:
- Our responsibility to God’s Word is what’s laid out in this parable.
- Engaging other parables or other portions of God’s Word without applying the principles found in the Parable of the Sower leads to getting your ‘lines out of order.
- Believers are called to live fruitful lives.
- Lack of fruit indicates a need to return to foundational basics.
- We are going to see that there are certain lifestyle choices which cause the Word to not produce in one’s life.
- You hear it, you read it but it doesn’t produce.
- It’s when you align your life with what God said in this parable that the door opens for the rest of the sayings of Jesus to bring forth a harvest of fruit in your life.
Call to Action:
You have responsibilities in life. There are many things as a human alive on planet earth which are laid at your door. There are spiritual responsibilities also. Tending to God’s Word is at the top of the list. In Bible talk, Proverbs 4:20-23 says this the best way it can be said.
You can find more information on The Parable of the Sower by visiting the following posts:
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Question: How do you see the outline of Mark’s gospel? What words would you use to categorize it? Please leave your comments in the comments section below.