The Parable Of The Soils (Part 2)-Mark 4:10-20
The Gospel According To Mark • Sermon • Submitted
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As we get started this morning, go ahead and turn in your copies of God’s Word to Mark 4: 10-20 we will read these verses a little bit later.
What verses are we looking at this morning?
Last Sunday morning in our journey through the Gospel according to Mark in the first part of the message entitled The Parable Of The Soils, we looked at the first 9 verses of Mark 4 as Jesus was teaching from a boat because the crowd was so large that the only way He could have any room was to be on a boat off of the shore line. We discovered that this was one of only 2 sections in Mark where we see Jesus devote some time to teaching. Most of Mark is more of a narrative of what Jesus was doing rather than a discussion on what He was teaching.
In this parable, Jesus painted a picture for the listeners that virtually everyone would understand. He used an analogy of a farmer. Since up to 90% of the Nation worked in agriculture, they could picture everything He was describing to them. However, even though they were able to visualize what He was saying, they had no idea of the spiritual application, because leading up to this time, the vast majority cared little for what He was teaching and were only following for their own selfish reasons. As a result, from this point forward, much of His teaching was via parables all by themselves, not laid side by side with a Scriptural truth. This left much of the audience scratching their heads at the end of His times of teaching. The soil of their hearts was not receptive to the truth’s He was teaching. Which is a good lead in to this mornings passage. With that in mind, would you please stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word? Next Slide
10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that “ ‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.’ ” 13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
May the Lord add His blessing to the reading of His Word, please be seated.
Did the explanation in verses 10-20 take place immediately following verse 9 or sometime later?
As we move forward to verse 10, just a quick note, verse 10 likely takes place quite a bit later, in fact it probably took place on a different day. But Mark elects to drop in Jesus explanation of the meaning of the Parable of The Soils before moving on to a few other parables. As we look at verse 10, I want you to notice something. We will call this:
Inquiring Minds Want To Know.
How large was the crowd Jesus was speaking to in the first 9 verses?
In looking back at verse 1, we see that such a large crowd assembled to listen to Jesus that He had to get into a boat and teach from out in the water. Many Biblical experts believe that this was the largest crowd Jesus ever taught, well into the 10’s of thousands. Then, starting in verse 3 He tells them a parable, but as we highlighted last week, this parable was not laid alongside a Biblical truth. This meant that the audience had no way of understanding what it was Jesus was telling them. Now look at verse 10: Next Slide
10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables.
Again keep in mind He is teaching a crowd in the 10’s of thousands. The vast majority of whom had no clue what He was talking about. The question is, at what point did anyone question Jesus as to the meaning of the parable? It wasn’t until the huge crowd was gone and He was alone with His closest followers. The 10’s of thousands were perfectly satisfied with their ignorance, but the Inquiring Minds of His disciples Wanted To Know more. And what did they do? They asked.
Remember what we read in verse 9? (“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”) I get the picture that God gave spiritual ears to those with the inquiring mind. Which fits quite well with what we see in other places in Scripture. Places like: Next Slide
13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
We see the same in Deut. 4:29, Prov. 8:17 and multiple other passages.
What does the Bible say happens when we seek God?
Do you want to be one of those with spiritual ears? Be an Inquiring Mind, be one who seeks after God, who dives into His Word, hungry to hear from God. By the way, the very best place to go to hear from God is directly to His Word. Unfortunately in this day and age believers turn a hundred different directions before turning to His Word for the answers, if they turn There at all. Christian and Bible bookstores and Amazon and other shopping sites are filled with hundreds of thousands of “Christian” self help books. But they are no substitute for the very Word of God.
Where is the best place to go if you want to hear from God?
Do you remember last week how I talked about the distinctive smell of good soil? Well I talked with Gene and Ethan Myers after church. I wanted to find out if that was their experience. You know what I found out? There is a distinctive smell to good soil! But do you know what else I found out? Soil that has been loaded with chemical enhancements year after year after year, also has a distinctive odor. And it’s not good and over time the yield it greatly diminished. In other words, if a farmer seeks to get nitrogen and other nutrients for his corn through chemicals as opposed to the nitrogen the soil naturally gets from alternating with soybeans, in the end it does more damage than good. The same thing holds true for what we get directly from God’s Word as opposed to the thousands of Christian books and literature out there. There is no substitute for the real thing. This is not to say that those things are bad, but if they are the first and primary place you turn for answers to life’s toughest questions or for daily direction in life, over time the soil of your heart will be affected adversely and your spiritual yield will be diminished, if not eliminated completely. Again I want to reiterate, there is no substitute for God’s Word.
In verses 10 & 11 we see God blessing those with Inquiring Minds, giving them an understanding of “the secret of the kingdom of God”.
In verse 12 we see Jesus move to the: Next Slide
Willfully Blind and Deaf. Vs. 12; Matt. 13:12 & 15
This account in Matthew gives us some details we do not see in Marks account, particularly in vs. 12 & 15. In verse 12 we read: Next Slide
12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
If you read this verse by itself it can be a bit confusing, but if you consider it in its context, understanding that Jesus had just warned the scribes and Pharisees that they were quickly approaching that Point Of No Return at which they would move beyond their ability to repent and turn for their sin, it makes more sense. What Jesus is declaring here is that the scribes and Pharisees, as a result of their willful ignoring of all that Jesus was accomplishing, the miracles, the authority with which He taught, the fulfilled prophecies… were in the process of losing all that they had received from God. “but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” This is not saying they currently had nothing, but that they had plenty, yet because of their Willfully being Blind and Deaf, God was removing anything they had, He was taking it away. In verse 15 of Matt. 13 Jesus states; Next Slide
“and their eyes they have closed”
Based on what we see in Matt. 13:12, how did the people eyes become closed?
In looking at this verse, how did their eyes become closed? They chose to close their own eyes and as a result, God was removing anything they may have received from Him.
So, the Inquiring Minds were having their spiritual ears opened, while the Willfully Blind and Deaf were having what vision and hearing they had removed because of the choices they were making. From here Jesus moves on to explain the meaning of the parable to those who were seeking God.
He begins by addressing: Next Slide
The Sower: Anyone Who Proclaims the Good News of Salvation. Vs. 14
While the specific example of the moment was Jesus Himself, a big purpose behind Him sharing the message with His disciples was to prepare them for what they would experience themselves. Namely that most would reject the message from hearts that ignored the truth of the message.
What is the sowers job?
By the way, one quick point on the sower, the sower’s job was to sow. The sower had no power over the soil. The sower didn’t have the ability to effect change in the life of the hearer, the soil. Even in the case of Jesus Himself, the vast majority of those to whom He spoke, were not changed by the message He proclaimed. In fact, in the example of The Rich Young Ruler, here was a man who came to Jesus asking the question every “Sower” wants to hear; “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Rest assured the vast majority of us would have had him on his knees within 5 seconds and praying the sinners prayer, stood up and looked for the next person! By the time Jesus was done with him we read “Disheartened....he went away sorrowful.”
Huh? How do you not capitalize on that opportunity? But in the end, even with Jesus as the Sower, he rejected the message of the Sower. To be honest, this should be a source of great encouragement to us. You see it is not our job to change lives! In fact the only life we can change is or own! Our job is to sow seeds!
From The Sower, Jesus moves quickly to: Next Slide
The Seed: The Word of God. Vs. 14
The seed was a proper and powerful symbol of the Word of God springing into life. Within every seed there is almost infinite potential for life! While there is incredible power in the Word of God, the choice to change is still left up to the individual, or in the example of this parable, The Soils, which is where Jesus moves to next, are representative of the hearts of the hearers of the Gospel proclaimed to them, and the first soil He begins with an explanation of: Next Slide
The Soil On The Path. Vs. 15
Who is to blame for the soil of the hard heart?
The beaten paths represent the hardened hearts of some people who hear God’s Word, but their own busy comings and goings and the frenetic traffic of life have so hardened them that nothing of the truth of God’s Word stirs them. The picture of the hardened path is deliberate, but our mind may too quickly go to the soil being hardened by others walking the path. However, more often than not, these individuals themselves are to blame for the hardened soil. These people beat the ground of their own lives asphalt hard with their feet constantly on the go, no time for contemplation or thinking through this Word proclaimed. As a result the truth bounces right off the surface and is easily taken away by the birds of the air. They hear the Word, but they don’t listen and as a result, the Word does not even penetrate into the soil.
The next soil is: Next Slide
The Rocky Soil. Vs. 16 & 17
The picture here is of the individual who makes a quick emotional decision. Perhaps they attend a great conference, or listen to a compelling message. Maybe they hear a testimony of someone who came to Christ after a lot of the same experiences they have had in life. The testimony rings true to them and they make an emotional decision. The coming week after that decision, there is a fire in them that cannot be quenched. When the church doors are open, they are there. When they wake up in the morning, boy they have Christian radio playing almost before they get out of bed, every button on their radio dial is changes to Christian stations. Who knows, it could be that for a time they daily dive into God’s Word. Then something happens. Maybe an injury, or the loss of a loved one. Could be a job loss or an unexpected shift change. Or perhaps one of their closest friends turns their back on them because of this new found faith. For some it might be a pandemic that throws their life into turmoil! Whatever it is, the moment the going got tough, they were done with this Christianity thing. I mean seriously, “How could God have allowed this thing to happen to me? I thought He loved me?!”
What kind of decision does the Rocky Soil person make?
The point is, shallow emotional responses rarely take root because they are based on emotions and emotions are constantly changing. I have to be honest with you, as a pastor I struggle with this soil. It is only natural for pastors to derive a great deal of excitement from decisions for Christ and it is tempting to pull out all the stops to heighten the emotions of the moment to create an atmosphere conducive to an emotional response. But more often than not, later on the pastor’s heart is broken when those individuals who made that emotional response abandon their faith because of some hardship in life. It is the main reason I have backed away in leading what is known as “The Sinners Prayer” after services. It’s not to say that there is anything wrong with the prayer, per-se, but if it is nothing more than an emotional prayer prayed at the end of an emotional message, it is very possible, even likely that the prayer meant nothing. Unfortunately many who have prayed that prayer, yet never been transformed, have this false sense of security. “Oh I prayed and asked Jesus into my life, I’m good for eternity!” But are they? In my view that prayer means nothing if it’s not followed by a transformed life.
That is a picture of the seed falling on the Rocky Soil.
From here Jesus moves to:
The Thorny Soil. Vs. 18-19
In some ways similar to the Rocky Soil, this is a decision for Christ that is not accompanied by a transformed life. This may have been an emotional decision, or maybe it came after a lot of thought and contemplation. Whatever it is, not long after “the decision” there is evidence of quick growth, but before long the growth comes to a stand still. This individual is suddenly side-tracked by life, by “the cares of the world”. Jesus goes on the say; “the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for other things enter in and choke the Word”.
What chokes out the Word in the Thorny Soil?
Many times, after this individuals decision, rarely does a Sunday go by that you don’t see them making their way into church. They may even be a faithful volunteer, may be a part of a small group or attend a weekly Bible study, but the rest of the week their Bible gathers dust on the shelf and their behavior is no different than everyone else. They’re sidetracked by life. Oh it might not be wealth, maybe it’s their car or another possession, or their job, It could be a hobby, it could be the pull of alcohol or drugs. Or maybe they were suddenly sidetracked by a new relationship, one that doesn’t draw them closer to God but pulls them into another direction. I was going to say the opposite direction, but many times it isn’t the opposite direction at all, it’s just a different direction, but it’s not towards God.
You want to know one of the best ways to tell if your soil is the thorny soil? If you look back at your life over the years since you made your decision for Christ, it could be a year, 5 years, 10 years....however long it may be, and you are no different spiritually than you were way back when, it is very likely that you are the thorny soil. And I’m not talking about your knowledge of Scripture, if you are at church regularly it is only natural that you will gain knowledge of Scripture, but if that knowledge doesn’t penetrate into the soil of your heart, your not transformed.
By the way, when I talk about a transformed life, I’m not talking about the quick transformation that oftentimes takes place, and sure you may never go back to where you were before, but nothing happens beyond that initial transformation. It isn’t followed by steady growth. Please listen to me very carefully on this, Next Slide
I do not believe that the life of a transformed believer is every marked by a plateau.
What kind of growth is the life of the transformed believer marked by?
It’s marked by growth! A steady and almost constant growth. Sure there may be times that the growth is not huge, maybe it is barely even visible and yes there may be times you take a few steps backwards. But the overall pattern of your life is growth. Chances are the life of the transformed believer looks like this: Next Slide
Any idea what this chart is? It is the stock market over the last 100 + years. Do you notice the overall trend of the chart? The overall trend is up, If we broke this down into 10 year segments, there would be times you barely see any change, and in fact you can see in this chart, there were times the market declined, but the overall trend is growth. That is the life of the transformed believer, the overall trend is growth.
If that is not the pattern of my life, of your life, there is a good chance the soil of our hearts is the thorny soil.
That leads us to the last soil to: Next Slide
The Good Soil. Vs. 20
Finally Jesus brings us to The Good Soil! The Seed of God’s Word does not bounce off of the surface of this heart. It does not momentarily flourish only to shrivel under adversity. It is not easily sidetracked by the cares of this world, It is a heart that allows God’s Word to take deep root in it. It produces a heart of character like we see in Galatians 5:22-23:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
One thing I do want to note for us, last week we talked about the miraculous crop yield Jesus spoke concerning. I want to make sure we don’t confuse that with just bringing people to Christ. While we are commanded to proclaim the Good News to others, we have no ability to change their hearts, that has been very clear this morning. But we still are to remain obedient in this area. Oftentimes the miraculous yield that takes place, is seen by these things flourishing in our lives. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… If your anything like me, if your life becomes marked by these things.....it’s an act of God!
After producing a life of character, then it produces a harvest of good works like we see in Ephesians 2:10: Next Slide
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
And here you have The Parable of The Soils.
I want to close out this mornings message with the same question we closed out last weeks message with: Next Slide
Which Soil Am I?
Let’s close our time in prayer.