For the text of Mark 4, click here.
Mark 4:3 – “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed…”
When Jesus explains the parable he says – “The farmer sows the word (Mark 4:14).”
I never noticed this before. I always assumed the farmer only sowed seed. He doesn’t sow the seed alone – he also sows the word. In Jesus’ explanation of the parable the word becomes what is sown on the seed that has already been sown on the ground. Mark 4:15 – “Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown…” First the people are sown and then the word is sown to the people on their various types of soil.
The farmer is no respecter of soil types. He sows everywhere. He doesn’t stop and say “there’s a path. I don’t want to waste any seed” or “there are some thorns – I will not sow there. I will only go over here to the good soil and sow there.” He sows the seed everywhere. You never know how many of the seeds will sprout even though the soil is ideal. God is generous in where He sows. The only bottle neck to the process is us. Let us reach out to people as a farmer sowing seed – generously. We have enough people in our churches who are bearing fruit who were not “good soil” Christians starting out to remind us to be generous with the word of God.
I’m not sure what your point is about the people who are sown and then the word is sown on them. Could you clarify and elaborate?
I have been pondering this parable since you brought it up. What is interesting here is that the seed does well when sown on good soil. This is only natural in our world. Soil has to be of good quality to produce a harvest. Yet, elsewhere God indicates that he doesn’t need to have good soil to produce fruit. Isaiah 35:1-10 talks about God bringing a wonderful harvest to the desert. I wonder how this should fit in to the discussion and application of this parable?
Mark 4:14 – the farmer sows the word
Mark 4:15 – “people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown.”
There is a play on words that is not evident in the NIV – it says Jesus’ listeners were on the “shore” – this is the same word Jesus uses for the “soil”.
It seems to me Jesus is saying two things got sown. Seed gets there by being sown. Jesus says the people are like seed on the path. He says the word was sown.
I am not certain if this points to creation – sowing people then comes the word of God or what. Of course John 1 says Jesus was the Word and was with God in the beginning (before there were people). I am not quite sure what to make of it. Maybe I am stretching this parable too far – as is very easy to do when interpreting them and how the seed got there makes no difference to Jesus point (as he spends no time in his explanation on its importance). Any ideas?
Don’t be afraid to stretch the parable. Mark wants you to play-that’s why he has all these parable, for us to play with so we can understand the gospel in a deeper, more profound way.
This is actually a paradigmatic parable–he is telling us how to understand “all the parables”. That’s what he says. In addition the set of ideas explored in sower parable come up throught the New Testament. For example rocky soil–like Peter(the rock) who denies Jesus 3 times.. Thorny soil chokes the word–Judas chokes, hangs himself because he is worried about the cares of this world.
If he uses the same word for soil as he does shore, as you noticed, wouldn’t it follow that people are standing on four different types of soil. The soil represents the heart.. People on rocky soil or the path have “hard hearts”
Many Christians struggle with the parable because they are afraid they are being sinfull by not taking the scripute literally enough. But parables by definintion cannot be taken literally, so let those that have ears hear, I guess. But if you have the courgage to play with this parable and read the gospel carefully looking for references to ideas discussed in, you may recieve the key to understanding all the parables. Furthermore you may recieve benefit “30, 60, or 100 times.” and enter the Kingdom of God.
Good luck and God bless.
Nice work Todd…I was blessed by reading that.