Last time we covered quite a bit of ground. If you missed either of the previous posts in this series, I strongly recommend that you stop here and go back and read those first. There are many fundamental truths covered in the previous blog posts.
In our last installment, we talked about the parable of the sower found in Mark chapter four. We talked about the seed being sown and also the nature of the ground. We discussed at length that the ground is actually your heart. We discussed that other things have been sown into your heart as well which gives us the stony ground and the thorns. All of these things are found in the garden of our own heart and it is up to us to tend to our own garden, and remove the junk. Doing so will free us up to love others in a way that wasn’t possible before. Today, I want to take a deeper look at the concept of seeds and also discuss the sower also as we begin to wrap this topic up.
Let’s go back to our foundational scripture which is Mark chapter 4:3-20.
Mar 4:3-9 Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, it happened that indeed some fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and ate it up. And another fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth. And it sprang up at once, due to not having deepness of earth.
And when the sun rose, it was scorched. And because it had no root, it withered away. And another fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And another fell on good ground and yielded fruit, going up and increasing. And one bore thirty, and one sixty, and one a hundredfold. And He said to them, He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
The Purpose of the Parables
Mar 4:10-13 And when He was alone, they who were about Him, with the Twelve, asked Him concerning the parable. And He said to them, To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. But to those outside, all these things are given in parables so that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. And He said to them, Do you not know this parable?
And how then will you know all parables?
Mar 4:14 The sower sows the Word.
Mar 4:15-20 And these are those by the wayside, where the Word is sown. And when they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the Word that was sown in their hearts. And these are those likewise being sown on stony places; who, when they hear the Word, immediately receive it with gladness. But they have no root in themselves, but are temporary. Afterward when affliction or persecution arises for the Word’s sake, they are immediately offended. And these are those being sown among thorns; such as hear the Word, and the cares of this world, and the deceit of riches, and the lust about other things entering in, choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful. And these are those sown on good ground, who hear the Word and welcome it, and bear fruit, one thirty, one sixty, and one a hundredfold.
First, let’s talk about seeds. When you stop and think about it, seeds are pretty amazing. They can lie dormant for a long time and still produce. Typically this dormancy period is one to two years. But it can be many years in some cases. In fact there have been seeds that were carbon dated at 2,000 years old that were found to be still viable. They have the potential to grow and produce, but they won’t produce until they are planted. The act of planting the seeds triggers a mechanism inside the seed that causes it to start the growth process (germination). They had the potential to grow all along, but it takes that act of planting that causes the germination to begin. Every seed has a mission which is to produce after it’s kind. We know that from Genesis (Gen 1:11) and it’s confirmed by science. It doesn’t matter if it’s wheat seed, watermelon seed or any other seed. If it’s a seed, then it’s on a mission to produce fruit after its kind. That’s its job.
In verse 14, Jesus begins to explain this parable. He says “The Sower sows the Word.” We know therefore that the seed being sown is the Word. In the Greek the word being used here is logos. The word logos is often misrepresented to exclusively mean the written word of God. This isn’t true. In simple terms, the word logos means reasoned speech or speech that carries weight. The term impactful speech is probably a good definition. The written Word of God certainly fits those definitions and of course includes the teachings of Christ and the words of Paul. It would also include the words of a father telling his kid why he needs to study if he wants to go to college <a modern example>. That kid might tell his friends (in ancient Greek) that he can’t go out tonight because he “just got the word <logos> from my dad and I have to study.”
Now let bring this back to the parable. Those seeds are <logos> words or rather reasoned or impactful speech. In the context of what Jesus was trying to communicate, there is no doubt that he was talking about the Word of God being sown. But at the same time, the parable reveals that isn’t always the case. He was showing that the Word is not always received. The reasons why have been misunderstood.
So I don’t have to re-teach everything from last week, let’s take a look at our players in this parable. We have:
- Seed – Which we now know to be <logos> or reasoned speech.
- Birds of the air – Satan and his minions who come to steal the word.
- The ground aka your heart. We discovered there are different kinds of ground:
- Good ground
- Stony ground
- Ground covered with thorns
- The wayside
- The Sower
Bear with me as I expound on these because I will be bouncing back and forth with each of these as I lay this out for you. Then believe it or not, I will finally explain how this impacts our ability to love.
Now let’s talk about the Sower. Who is this guy? That’s a really good question. Jesus doesn’t tell us specifically. This is because over the course of our lives we have many “Sowers.” So, while he doesn’t tell us specifically, he did give us some clues. We know from verse 15 that the ground isn’t a patch of dirt someplace. The ground is our heart. We know the sower isn’t some prankster loading up the wheat field with corn seeds because there is no language indicating that this sower is unwanted or doing anything illegal. From this, I think we can deduce the following about the Sower:
- The sower is someone who has access to our heart.
- The sower is someone we have allowed in.
- The sower has permission to sow seeds <logos>.
- The sower may know us personally or we may at least know them and there is reason to trust.
- The sower is purposeful in the sowing of the seeds.
Don’t you love a good mystery? Let’s examine for a moment who might fit the profile we just created.
Right at the moment, I could be a sower in your life if what I say in this blog is meaningful to you. It could be your pastor, a teacher and it could also be you. Yep, you read that right. It also could be you. When you study and meditate on God’s word are you not sowing seed into your own heart? Indeed you are. That makes you a sower. All of these are true from the Christian ministry perspective. But remember logos doesn’t have to be “Christian speech.” In its basic form it is simply reasoned (or impactful) speech. So from that perspective, we can begin using some broader strokes as we fill in the picture. Other sowers could also include your mom, your dad, friends and people of significance in your life. All of these people can qualify as sowers and all of them could speak <logos> words that impact your life. They qualify, because you have given them access to your heart.
Up to now, we have been talking about good seed and planting the Word of God in our hearts. However, as I indicated, logos doesn’t necessarily mean the Word of God. It can be other words of reasoned speech or other words of impact. These are also logos words. I made it a point to discuss this because of what I’m about to talk about and I needed to build the case a bit so you would understand.
What about the bad seeds and other junk that has been sown into our hearts? Wait! Jesus doesn’t say anything about sowing bad seed. No he doesn’t in the active sense. But he does show the results of those seeds and other junk sown in the past. This is where the stony ground comes from and also those thorns (more on those in a minute). Reasoned or impactful speech doesn’t necessarily mean well reasoned and doesn’t necessarily mean positive impact. If a parent should tell their child while in a fit of rage “You’re a stupid jerk! I hate you! I wish you had never been born.” Those are also logos words that will impact a child forever even if that “child” is actually an adult when those words are spoken. A stranger could walk up and say those same words and they would have zero impact. Same words and zero impact? That’s because the stranger isn’t a sower. You child has no relationship with that stranger and hasn’t opened their heart to them. Therefore their words have no effect. But if you say that, they are devastated and wounded for the rest of their lives (unless they find healing). This creates a place of hardness in that child’s heart. Now remember what I said earlier about seeds? They always produce fruit. That’s their job. When you plant a seed like that, guess what you’re going to reap? Anger, hatred, murder, inferiority and many other things.
Here’s where the thorns come in. Those thorns are the sins that entangle us. Things like lust, deceitfulness of riches and the cares of this world. Remember thorns are a plant also and plants spring up from seeds. Guess who’s planting those seeds? You are! Perhaps you, or someone you know is involved in some type of sinful behavior. This behavior may have some serious consequences attached to it such as jail or divorce. Here’s the deal, this person didn’t get into this place overnight. It’s taken time. Time has been spent dreaming and fantasizing about it. Those seeds keep growing until the day you stop dreaming of it and you start doing it (the sinful behavior). This person never meant to do whatever it is, but they kept thinking about it and thinking about it, and the more they thought about it, the worse it got until they were fully engaged with it. That’s the way these things work. It’s no different than planting grain. The seeds of sin grow in the same way.
Mar 4:28 For the earth brings out fruit of itself, first the blade, then the ear, after that the full grain in the ear.
Now let’s go back to the previous example where you just told your kid they’re a jerk, you hate them and wish they had never been born. After dropping that evil bomb into your kids heart, and because that seed is producing after it’s own kind, it is bringing with it various forms of sin. Now your child starts planting thorns in their heart because of their hatred towards you and all the anger that is building inside them. It is a tangled mess. This is why we have the saying “Hurting people hurt other people.” Pain and hurt begets more pain and hurt and gives pain and hurt to others and then the process begins in them. It is truly a cycle of doom where things just go from bad to worse. All of this junk is interconnected. It’s a web of pain and hurt mixed with sin, anger and hatred. Only God can unravel it. Thankfully, God is willing and able to do just that… if we’ll allow him to.
And just like that, we’re out of time for today. Next time, we’ll review a little and then finally answer the question: What does this have to do with love? Until then, may God’s richest blessings be yours in Christ today.
Copyright (C) 2019 M. Unruh