I like the Gospel of Mark – it is fast moving. If you have ever read it for yourselves you may of noticed that it pays attention to the actions of Jesus more than his teachings. But in our reading Mark gives us a sample of Jesus’ teaching with the Parable of the Sower. This is one of Jesus’ most famous parables. It appears in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Like most parables it is a simple story, and yet it contains important teaching about God’s kingdom, for Mark’s readers and for us today.
Why is it that some people respond to the gospel while others do not? Why was it that Chris and I responded when we did and not before, Why is it that we can talk about Jesus with friends and family, and some will want to know more while others will change the subject.
Why is it that someone can share the same message of the Gospel of Jesus with a group of people all at the same time, and some will accept the message while for others it seems to fall on deaf ears? That is the question that Jesus raises and then answers in this parable. But I also believe there is a message behind the one on the surface, but first let’s start by reading the parable again at verse 3:
3 ‘Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.’ 9 Then Jesus said, ‘Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.’
1. Which type of soil are you?
So that’s the parable, I could stand here and tell you all about the type of ground that the seed is falling on but that is not the point, the point is who the seed is falling on.
As I am sure you know or have worked out the seed is God’s word, the soil is people, you and me, and the key is in that statement in verse 9 when Jesus said . ‘Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.’
Jesus uses these words several times in the gospels, and they seem to imply that just hearing the word is not enough. You must not only hear the word, but also understand and obey for the word to bring you any benefit. We must let the word of God into our lives and start to take root.
So we have the path, the rocky places with a little soil, the soil with thorns in the ground, and we have good soil.
What are we to make of that, now taking the word as I said as being the seed, are you like the path a well-trodden path with the surface beaten down by thousands of boots, so when the seed is spread on it, it bounces off, are you a hard person with a hard case around you, believing that there is nothing good in this world, maybe you have been hurt in and by life and you now have this shell around you like a walnut. And when you hear Gods word it just bounces of you.
Or are you a rocky places type of person, you seem open to the seed but underneath you are also as hard as iron a bit like a coconut, you look like you may be soft and the seed can get wedged into the outer layer but it cannot get past that inner shell, to the soft heart and soul inside, are you a coconut.
Or are you the type of ground with thorns, you heard the word the seed goes into the good soil but the thorns in your life choke the life out of God’s word, some thorns can look very beautiful but are very prickly, are you a prickly person, you might need to ask others about that, I never meet a prickly person yet who admitted that they were prickly, it was always the other person, are you more worried what people will say what you would look like to others, as verse 19 says ‘but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word,’ is your concern for what is acceptable in the secular world that we live in more than it is for God’s word. At the end of verse 19 Jesus says that our worries can make the seed the word of God unfruitful.
Or do you feel that you are the good soil, are you like the wheat that comes from the good soil, if so what is your fruit as Jesus said in verse 20 seed sown on good soil, hears the word, accepts it, and produce a crop – some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.’ Is that you. I wonder which one you are?
2. Be good soil and be fruitful for Jesus
Now unlike soil we as human beings have the ability to change ourselves, before I came to faith I used to look at myself and I did not like what I saw, I was hard, tough business man, if you let me down that was it you we out, if you stayed in my good books you were ok, but cross that line and there was no forgives. I used to make excuses for the way I was its business, its kill or be killed, the top dog wins, otherwise they will walk over you, I lied I cheated, I said what had to be said to get what I wanted and to look good, to look on top of my game to others. I remember once I was on a corporate day out clay pigeon shooting in the morning and fly fishing in the afternoon, with a great meal at lunch, now the company was only a few years old and I never worried about cars, I drove this beat up citron estate, and the managing director of the company hosting the day out saw my car and said to the guy who run my local branch ‘is that ken’s car’ the manager said no that’s one of his boys his is being serviced, then came and told me to back the story up as the MD was worried, he was worried I drove a clap out old car, not worried that we always payed up on time the full account and that we had never been late not once and some months we paid then over 100,000 pounds, he was worried about the looks not the substance. He would have felt happier if I drove a big merc and never paid up on time. And how he and others saw me mattered to me, So I went and brought a merc and still paid up on time because I was worried what others thought of me.
As I said we can change ourselves I did eventually, I did not like who I was, the person I pretended to be for others, (as our first reading said) Isaiah 55:6-11 says Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8 ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. 9 ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. I did not like who I was and I opened myself up to God to His Holy Spirit and allowed myself to be changed by the power of God through His word.
God’s word will change us for the better if we let Him soften our hearts, to let His word penetrate our shell that we think we need. We don’t need a shell we need Gods love and He is just waiting to pour that love out to each one of us, He is waiting to fill us with the Holy Spirit, so that we will be fruit that sows others.
And if you are thinking but I am the good soil, I ask that question where is the fruit, the evidence, (Our second reading) 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 says 6 Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: ‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures for ever.’ 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
Are you showing the fruits of the spirit are you giving generously? Are you giving of your time of your money, after all every Sunday we say that pray thanking God that all things come from Him and we are happy to give back, but are we, are we truly good soil or are we the soil that the thorns live in where there is no great death to our faith.
Jesus died on a cross for us and so we would not be alone He sent His holy spirit to help and guide us, now at no time will God force himself on us, but he is always waiting for us to open the door to His love, to open the door wide open not just a crack, but to fully let Him into our lives, to accept His love and to be willing to be guided by the Holy Spirit. For us to show the love of Jesus to all, not only to those who deserve it but to those that do not deserve it. After all who amongst us is without any sin who has not had a bad thought this week, said something bad about someone else, who has tried to get there way despite what others want, and there just the little things we all do wrong all week, I know I have fallen at these hurdles, and may I suggest that if you have not fallen at all this week you were probably never woke up from the time you got home last Sunday to this morning, and most of us will have done things a lot worse than these.
But when we change our soil and we accept Jesus into our lives, full accept Him then others will see that generosity not only of the Spirit but how we forgive, who we give of our time and our money, God does not have to love us, the Holy Spirit does not have to come, God’s grace has no bounds, His love has no bounds.
Augustine of Hippo one of the early church fathers said “Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.” I found that to be true, I was always restless until I found Jesus. And allowed Him to work on the soil of my heart.
We all need to work on the soil of our hearts, even good soil can be made better, and we do this by reading God’s word the bible, we do this by joining a midweek small group were we can discuss the bible and what was said from the front on Sundays, we need to open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit and the fullness of God’s love.
Let’s be a people who answer Jesus call when he said ‘Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.’ Are you listing to what God is saying through His Bible. I would just like to close in prayer,
Lord I thank you that you know us and that you love us, send your Holy Spirit that we might work on the soil of our hearts to become the people that you want us to be, to become a people with a generous heart, to show you love with our time and our money. In Jesus name, we pray amen.