Read Mark 4:10-20

[10] When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. [11] He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables [12] so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'” [13] Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? [14] The farmer sows the word. [15] Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. [16] Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. [17] But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. [18] Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; [19] but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. [20] Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop-some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.

Meditate

Consider

“We are not to be like reeds blown in the wind bowing down to the prevailing winds of society. Instead, we are to continue faithfully in the Old and New Testament Scriptures” (John Stott).

Think Further

We have seen that large numbers of people were attracted to Jesus, but it now becomes clear that only a few of them were ready to move beyond this initial attraction and draw close. Together with the apostles, these few made up the small band of Jesus’ first disciples, and it was to them that he explained the meaning of the parables (34). 

Verse 12 may seem to suggest that God is making it impossible for some to welcome the good news of the kingdom of God; however, this makes nonsense of Jesus’ exhortation to everyone to listen (3). A more compelling explanation, in keeping with the original context of these words in Isaiah, is that they describe a consequence, not a cause. Those who continue to resist Jesus’ message will render themselves less and less able to comprehend it. In other words, it’s a case of reaping what we sow. Paul’s warning in Galatians 6:7-10 provides an instructive parallel.  

Church history demonstrates the prophetic quality of this parable, as does our own experience. We know people who fit the descriptions in Jesus’ story and, indeed, we ourselves are vulnerable to the threats described by Jesus. This is why you and I have to take these warnings so seriously. What will prevent our faith in Jesus from being overwhelmed by these enemies? I doubt that it will be our friendship with other Christians, no matter how meaningful. Nor will it be our theology, no matter how sound. What is critical is our rootedness in the loving presence of Christ. This alone will teach us that no alternative will truly satisfy human need. To go elsewhere is futile, for only Jesus has “the words of real life, eternal life” (John 6:68, The Message).

Apply

As stated above, “our rootedness in the loving presence of Christ” is necessary to keep us on track. What can you do to strengthen your relationship with Christ?