“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” Mark 4:3-8
To Whom is Jesus Talking?
The truth be told, Jesus was addressing a great multitude of people, but the wisdom of this parable was not for everyone–the message was primarily for those who had ears to hear. In other words, it was for His followers. To those who had not yet chosen to believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, the parable would make little sense. The fact of the matter is that this parable is a preparatory dictate to His followers; step one as it were towards effective evangelism. Jesus is effectively instructing His disciples, “Before you can plant a single seed, you must prepare the soil.”
The Burden is on the Sower, Not the Soil
Soil by definition is stupid. It doesn’t know it must be prepared. It cannot recognize it must be tilled, turned-over, exposed, and weeded. Soil thinks it’s good just the way it is. Soil thinks it’s good that it shares with the birds; it points to an occasional sprout as positive development. Soil fails to see the big picture—soil does not see its purpose as God sees it.
We have established that soil is stupid, so it stands to reason that it cannot prepare itself; tilling the soil is the sower’s task. Knowing this we need to make a distinction between an earthly farmer and a Christian farmer. We need to do this because they use different tools. A conventional farmer uses a plow to till his soil, but the Christian uses the Law to prepare his. The Law is the only tool that will properly prepare the soil to receive the seed, the Word of God. If a seed fails on stony ground or amongst the thorns, whose fault is it? Is it the soils fault or the sower?
Jesus Loves You
Like it or not, the Good News starts with some bad news. And guess what; the bad news doesn’t start with, “Hey! You’re going to hell!” The bad news is found in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
There are two parts to the bad news: first, ‘all have sinned’ and second, our sin separates us from God. The question that remains is, “How can we establish that every person is a sinner?” The fact is proved by having each sinner gaze into the mirror of the Law—the Ten Commandments. Using the Law as our guide, we can quickly and effectively demonstrate to any person that they have broken every single commandment. By so doing, we have begun the mission of tilling the stony ground. Skip this step and there is a very good chance that the seeds we plant will be gobbled up, withered away, or choked out.
Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. 2 Corinthians 7:9
The Psalmist said it this way, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul…” (Psalm 19:7). It’s my testimony that when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior for the first time, I did so because ‘my sower’ told me Jesus loved me and that my life would be better with Him in it—the Law was not utilized. And because the soil was not properly prepared; because I was not brought to a place of godly sorrow leading to sincere repentance, I quickly backslid. I’ll be blunt. If we don’t allow the Law to do its good work [when we share the Gospel], we run the risk of planting a crop of backsliders.
I wonder, “How many of you quickly backslid because your soil was not tilled with the Law before the seed was planted?” Jesus gave His followers this parable so we would not make this critical mistake. Having said that, God was gracious to me and sent me another sower in my back-slidden condition, but know this—as a sower, I have the opportunity to plant the seed correctly the first time. Scattering seed on ill prepared soil is poor stewardship. Break out the Law and let’s till the land!
What say you?
These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands