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Scripture Reading: Luke 8:4-15
Passage:Mark 4:1-20
Title: Back to the Basics: Becoming receptive soil, and having enduring Faith
Intro: Good morning everyone. Growing up, during the summer and during several Spring breaks, I would go to my grandparent’s house. They live outside of Texarkana, and own roughly 40 acres of land. And my grandpa retired fairly young. So to stay busy my grandpa planted several gardens. And I mean, big gardens.
There were a few spring breaks where my Brother and I would go to my grandparent’s for Spring Break, and we would go out to the garden with my grandpa and “help” him plant his garden. What is interesting is that my grandpa would rotate his crops giving the soil a break. The reason being, he wanted to give the land rest, and allow the land to keep its nourishment. Because he wanted to keep his fields able to endure.
In today’s passage we are going to see Jesus give an illustration of different types of people who have heard the gospel, and compare them soils, so that we as believers will know what it means to have enduring faith.
Passage Context: As we continue through the book of Mark, Remember the sole purpose of the book of Mark is to show the reader who Jesus, and show that Jesus is the Messiah, but that Jesus did not just die for the Jews, but for the World. Remember that Mark’s main intended audience is the Greeks and Gentiles.
And in Chapter 3 the main point is to show the crowds and the people who followed Jesus. Well in Chapter 4 their is a shift from who followed Jesus, to what Jesus taught. In Mark 4, the author gives 4 parables that Jesus taught. Today we will look at the first parable found in Mark 4, the parable that is often called; the parable of the soils.
Passage explanation: In this passage Jesus teaches a parable, of four types of people who hear the message of the gospel. This parable is of a farmer who is planting seeds and the seeds fall on four different types of soil. Even though there are four seeds and four soils, only one soil allows the seeds to grow and to produce fruit.
Main Point: The main point of this passage is to show the different types of reception that people have towards God’s word, and to show the necessity of having a heart open towards receiving the gospel.
Call to Action:
Part 1: Jesus teaches a Parable: Mark 4:1-2 ; 4:10-13
Point 1: God reveals his mysteries to his disciples.
Explanation: Look at how this passage begins, “And again He began to teach by the sea.” So this passage begins by telling the reader what is happening, and what Jesus is doing. Mark tells the reader that after Jesus taught that those who do the Father’s Will are his family, we see that Mark tells the reader that a new story is happening. Chapter 3 ends with Jesus being in a house, but chapter four starts with Jesus being at the Sea Galilee off the shore of Capernaum teaching.
Then we see who Jesus is teaching, “And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea.” So now we see that Jesus is teaching, and there is a large number of people who gathered around him. The crowd was so large that Jesus got into a boat and sat on the boat in the sea to teach. Now this is not the first time that Jesus has done something similar to this. Remember in Mark 3:9 “And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him.” So Jesus would move to a boat and teach from the boat whenever there was a large crowd. This allowed him to take a stage and a place where he could safely teach and not worry about getting trampled. And then we see while Jesus is in the boat, the crowd is on the shore listening and learning from Jesus.
And then Mark tells the reader how Jesus, maybe we should say, what Jesus, taught the multitudes. Look at verse 2, “Then He taught them many things by parables,” So now we see that Jesus taught the crowd in parables. Now remember, what a parable is; it is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Again, a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. So Jesus is teaching the crowd and earthly story with a heavenly meaning.
Now you might be asking, “Why did Jesus teach the crowd in stories? Why didn’t Jesus just straight up tell the people what he wanted them to know and why they needed to know this? Well Verses 10-14 tell us why.
See the First thing we see in verses 10-14, is that Jesus teaching style brought confusion. Look at verse 10, “But when He was alone,” now the idea here that Jesus is alone means when Jesus was alone with just his twelve disciples. So when the multitudes had left, so Jesus is now with his disciples. We see that in the next line “those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable.” So now we see that those who were with Jesus, his 12 disciples, his closest friends, have questions about the parable to Jesus.
But what happens next is interesting, Look at how Jesus responds, “And he said to them, ‘To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God “ So look at how Jesus responds, by saying that to these men, it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. Jesus states that he and the Holy Spirit are revealing these mysteries specifically for them. In fact, Jesus then states, “but those who are outside, all things come in parables.” So now Jesus states, that the mysteries of his teaching will be revealed to just those that are in the room, his disciples. And that to those who are not his disciples the meaning of the parable was to remain a mystery.
Then Jesus gives the why for speaking in parables. Jesus states, “So that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.’” So now we see that Jesus quotes Isiah 6:9-10. Now the passage that Jesus quotes is among probably the most famous passage of Isiah this passage along with Isaiah 53, but Isiah 6:9-10 is given in the context of God calling the prophet Isaiah In verse 8 God asks “Who shall I send?” Meaning who is going to go and tell Israel that they must repent of their sins. Yet God knew that the people would not repent, and ultimately he would call on the nations of the world to pronounce judgment on the northern kingdom of Israel. So much so, that when Isiah says, “Here am I! Send Me.” God responded by telling the prophet, to “Go tell the people: Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.” See Jesus is saying just like when the Northern Kingdom was warned by Isiah, yet the people did not listen, that Jesus is telling the people that he is the Messiah, yet the people are not perceiving and do not want to understand the truth.
So then Jesus asks a question in verse 13, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” So now Jesus asks the disciples, do you not understand this lesson? What about my other teachings?
Application: Now what is interesting, is that Mark, in telling us how Jesus taught this parable and gave the meaning of the parable to the disciples also reveals to the reader the meaning of the parable. This is not by accident. The Holy Spirit is revealing through this passage and through what the Son taught to reveal the truth of the gospel to those whom the Holy Spirit calls to follow him.
See Jesus is asking the disciples, how will you understand my teachings, if you do not understand my parables? Well here is the thing, we know that after Christ rose from the dead, the Holy Spirit gave a new understanding to what Christ taught them. The Holy Spirit illuminated the truth for them.
Realize now, that Mark through the Holy Spirit explains the meaning of Jesus’ parable to us. So The Spirit is revealing Jesus to the reader, we just have to open our eyes, and our minds to see the truth, and understand teh truth that the Holy Spirit is revealing.
Look, the Holy Spirit illuminates the truth to those that will follow Christ. God reveals himself to those whom he is calling. Let me ask, do you understand? The Holy Spirit is illuminating the truth of Christ to you.
If you do not understand seek his truth, pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal the truth to you, and when he does, submit to the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
Transition: After we see that Jesus through the Holy Spirit is teaching, and explaining, We see the meaning of the Seed.
Part 2: the Seed Mark 4:3; Mark 4:13
Point 2: God reveals his mysteries by giving the people his Word.
Explanation: Look at Mark 4:3. We see the introduction to the parable that Jesus is teaching. “Listen!” Stop right here, because the very first thing that Jesus does in teaching this parable is that Jesus gives an imperative command. Jesus is saying, you, crowds, listen!
But look at what the crowds were to hear and understand, “Behold, a sower went to sow.” So now we see the introduction to the earthly story with a heavenly meaning. There is a sower who went to sow. Now lets use terms that we might be a little more familiar with; there is a farmer, who went to plant seeds. So Jesus starts this parable by giving the situation, a farmer is planting seeds.
But then in Mark 4:13 Jesus explains the meaning of the seeds, “And he Said to them,” So now we see that Jesus is explaining the meaning of the parable, “ and in 14 we see the meaning of the seed, “The sower sows the word.” So now we see that the Farmer is planting the word. the Logos, the message of God.
And the sower is God or the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit is giving the word of God to man.
Illustration: In my mind, I think of and picture my grandfather wearing his coveralls going out to his garden and planting seed. I remember going to my grandfathers house during spring break and “helping my grandpa.” By helping I mean that I was mostly just getting in his way, but I imagine what is happening, That here is a man, going out to his garden, and he is throwing seeds to plant them.
But we do need to pause for a moment, because the farming in the times of Jesus day is different from the farming in our days. See in our days we have designated fields just for farming. In Jesus’ day they had fields with main roads and pathways. So they would have the garden and people would still need a path, so they had paths that went through the gardens.
Application: So God has given us his word, He sent his son, who revealed the truth. God has revealed who he is through the son, and through the Holy Spirit. Through the sowing of his Word. God has given us his word, now the question is, what type of soil will you be to receive that word?
Transition: In point one we saw that God reveals his mysteries to his disciples, then in point two we see how God reveals his mysteries by giving us his word, but now we see the different people that the word of God lands upon.
Part 3:The Seed that fell by the wayside: Mark 4:4; Mark 4:15
Point 3: Soil 1: Those that have the word removed immediately by Satan.
Explanation:Now as we look at the meat of what Jesus taught, look at verse 4 we see the first type of soil that the seed was sowed on. “And it happened as he sowed, that some seed feel by the wayside.” Now your translation might say “path or road” I think that might give us a better understanding of where this seed feel. The seed fell upon the road. So it did not have soil to be planted on. Instead the seed just sat on the path or the road. And look at what happened to that seed, “And the birds of the air came and devoured it.” So now we see that the birds swooped in and ate the seeds.
Then in verse 15 we see Jesus explanation of the soil of the wayside. Look at verse 15, “And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.”
So now we see the meaning of the seeds on the pathway. The Word of God is given to the receiver, yet the receiver does not allow the word to penetrate the heart, thus the receiver never truly believes the word. And Satan comes and easily picks the word out of the receivers mind.
Illustration: So if you are going along with the illustration in your head, picture a man in his coveralls throwing seeds and the seed lands on the road. Then the birds come and eat that seed.
Application: Think of the person who is the first soil as someone who has heard the word, yet they keep going about their business. This is someone who you shared the gospel with yet, they have no interest.
Transition: After Jesus tells of the first type of soil, Jesus tells of the second type of soil.
Part 4: The Seed that Fell on the Stony ground. Mark 4:5-6 Mark 4:16-17
Point 4: Soil 2: Those that have their faith wither at any sign of trouble.
Explanation: Look at verse 5: “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.” So now we see the second seed. Remember the Farmer is throwing the seeds. The first fell on the roads, the birds ate those immediately, now the second soil that the seed falls on is the rocks. Now the seed hits the rocks but bounces down between the rocks, where there is a small part of earth.
Jesus then states that this seed goes into the ground, and it actually grows. But because there is not much soil, it does not grow roots. Thus when the sun’s light hits the plant, the plant withers and dies.
Now in verses 16 and 17 Jesus explains what this soil is. Look at verse 16, “These like-wise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness;” So look at what Jesus says about this soil, when they hear the Good news of Jesus, and they hear how Jesus is the savior, they initially receive that news with gladness.
But look at what happens next, “and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, they immediately stumble.”
Illustration: So now we see the second soil. These are people who hear and initially receive the word. So think of this as someone who heard the gospel, they say, you know what, I am intrigued, I’ll come to church with you, and learn more. So for a time they go to church.
But then having faith doesn’t become easy anymore. Maybe life gets harder, people die, Their spouse, looks at them and says, “Why are you wasting your time going to church on Sundays? And then starts to mock them.
So this person stops going to church, and no longer is interested in the gospel. All because life got hard, and they decided not to learn on Christ, and their church, because they can’t because they have no roots. Thus they leave what little faith they had, if they had any.
Application: See Church, your faith needs roots.
This week a giant tree fell outside of Brother Buddies’ house. Wednesday we talked about it, and I said, “Did you know the tree was dead?” His response, “The tree wasn’t dead, it just didn’t have big roots. When you go and look at that tree, the root system isn’t large, so when the storms came, the tree fell.
Church you need your roots strong and grounded. Have your faith grounded. If your faith is only only skin deep, when the storms come, and they will come, your faith will be shaken, and it will fall.
So let me ask, is your faith grounded?
Transition: After seeing soil where the faith is not grounded, we see a soil where the faith is grounded, yet their faith does not endure.
Part 5: The Seed that Fell on among the thorns. Mark 4:7; Mark 4:18-19
Point 5: Soil 3: Those that have the word choked out of them after a series of hardships and trials.
Explanation: Look at the third type of soil that Jesus teaches in verse 7, “And some see fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.” So now we see the third soil that the seed fell upon. This seed is amongst the thorns. So the seed has ground, it has foundation. It has a root system to get nourishment. But yet this seed never produces fruit, because the ground it fell upon has thorns that choke out the plant.
Then in verses 18 and 19 Jesus explains what this type of soil is; Look at verse 18, “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the one who hear the word, and they cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”
So now we someone who has grounded faith. They have connections at church, they even seem to grow in their faith, but then life happens. They get married, have kids, maybe walk up the corporate ladder a bit, but then all of a sudden they no longer have time or room for their faith. So when little Johnny has a little league game on Sunday, it does not become a big deal. Or if they have to run into the office on Sundays instead of going to church it does not seem like an issue. And the next thing that happens is they have walked away from their faith.
Application: Church do not let the business of this world take you from the Savior who died on the cross for your sins. Life is busy, but God is good. Do not allow the things of this world to distract you from your faith.
Transition: After showing the soil that allows the busyness of this world to take them from their faith, we see the fourth soil, the soil that is the only soil that produces fruit, and is the only soil, that is true believers.
Part 6: The Seed that fell on good soil. Mark 4:8-9; Mark 4:20
Point 6: Soil 4: Those that receive the word and produce fruit.
Explanation: Look at verse 8. “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.” So now we see the seed that that actually grew, and produced fruit.
And look at what Jesus says about this soil in verse 20, “But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirty fold, some sixty and some a hundred.” SO now we see that the fourth soil is the soil of the believer. They receive the word, and they do not allow persecution or hardship, or the business of this world to take them away from their faith.
But there is something else about this soil, and this plant. This soil allows the word to produce fruit. Look, works are not what saves, Only Jesus saves, but the saved will produce fruit. The saved will produce works. The saved will allow the gospel to penetrate everyplace about them.
See in verse 9 Jesus says, “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear!” See Jesus wants the reader and the listener to know what it means to have enduring faith, and show what true faith looks like. True faith looks like producing fruit and enduring through the craziness of this world, and through persecution.
So let me ask, are you producing fruit? Does your faith produce the fruit it should?
True Believers understand:
The Word that is given to them by the Holy Spirit. They allow that word to produce fruit.
That is the true ground that recieves the gospel. But be aware of the other soils:
The soils of the road, that automatically rejects God’s word.
The soil of the rocks, that hears God’s word, receives it, yet the word has no roots in their life, and when the hardships come, they leave their faith.
Or the Soil of the thorns. They have roots, but ultimately the business of this world takes precedent over their faith, and they eventually leave their faith.
Be the fourth soil. The soil that hears the word, and allows it to build roots, and grows in their faith, then produces fruit.
Is your faith producing fruit? If not, examine your faith, look to see if you have true, grounded faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
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