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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Parable of the Sower (part 3)

Let's continue the parable and pick up with the weedy soil?

Text: Mark 4:1-4:20, also Matthew 13:1- 23

Could the weedy soil be you? Verse 19 describes the lives of these people: “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.” What weeds do in a garden is they not only crowd out the desired plants, but they also sap nutrients for growth. The result is a plant that becomes sterile, or gives a low yield.

We all know what the weedy life is like; we live it don’t we? Life is full of things that have to be dealt with. And, we deal with them, knowing that we need to spend some time working on our relationship with Jesus. But by the time we get there, we are too tired. We think, maybe tomorrow; and slowly the weeds start to take over.

Then, just like those other people who dwell in the rocky ground, we become people who used to be able to hear the Word and apply it, but now we are so busy, we just never get there. It’s not that we don’t want to do it, we just cannot get there.

Do you see what is happening here? We are owned by our activities, our hobbies, our work, our possessions, our things; they have mastered us, they choke the spiritual life out of us. We weedy people have difficulty with spiritual priorities, the worries of life. We are torn in a different direction than where God is directing and this brings us discontentment. There is just too much to deal with!

One of the first things to suffer is our attitude toward God. The worst thing is these people have great difficulty obeying the leading of the Holy Spirit. So the frustrations of life start to pile on. They cannot discern what is God’s direction when important or urgent decisions enter their lives. They lack answers to fundamental ethical questions. They may even follow the morality of society, not only out of ignorance, but because of the inability to impose spiritual self control, faithfulness, gentleness in life’s everyday situations.

In other words the fruits of the Spirit are no longer increasing in their lives, because they are being chocked out by weeds.

On to the good soil...

This soil produces thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown. The average yield for Palestine was between 10-100 fold. 100 fold was not miraculous, but it was at the high end of the scale. 100 fold isn’t some unattainable yield that only super Christians can produce, 100 fold is the normal yield from the blessings of God on our life, blessings received through hearing and applying the Word of God.

We see in Genesis 26:12 that Isaac planted crops in the land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him. Isaac wasn’t a super human, he just received a normal blessing from God.

The production is the fruit of the spirit, it is the scale of the increase of these things in your life. A person with a heart of good soil is interested in God’s Word, open to the benefits of God’s Word, convicted by God’s Word, and seeks to minimize sin in their lives through God’s Word. Do you see a pattern here? If you didn’t catch it, it’s God’s Word.

In verses 11 and 12 Jesus says, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!” Jesus is referring to Isaiah 6:9-10, it reads, He said, “Go and tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

And He is also referring to Ezekiel 12:2, “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.”
Jesus is saying that those who cannot hear the Word of God and apply it are not denied the possibility of belief, but are excluded from the opportunity of being further instructed as long as the disobedience continues. So, a person may believe, but they are no longer open to instruction from the Word of God.

Here in the Isaiah passage, we see the prophet saying, in effect, “go tell my message, but don’t expect anyone to listen to it.”

Those living in hard, rocky or weedy soil can make themselves incapable of hearing the Word of God.
Notice that in the Old Testament passage from Isaiah, it says that we may be healed, and in the New Testament passage from Mark it says that we may be forgiven. This is because the forgiveness of Jesus will bring healing to us. If we are not open to being instructed by God’s Word, the same thing can happen to us that happened to many who eagerly followed Jesus: John 6:60-6 says, “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”
Jesus knew from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” Then, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”

Let us also notice that each failure occurs in the maturing process. This is primarily about spiritual maturity. People with rocky or weedy soil start off well, but then fail to mature.


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