Mark 4:1-20 Parables And The Parable Of The Sower, Soil, And Seed.
Remaining by the sea, this time Jesus would need to avail himself of a boat due to the pressing of the crowds (v. 1), and he begins his use of parables (v. 2), with that of the sower, soil, and seed (v. 3). The ideal for the farmer is to have the seed land in soil that has been worked, that is plowed, so that the seed can sink into the soil and take root. The wayside is a hardened walkway, so that the seed remains on the surface to become food for the birds (v. 4). Still other seed may fall on a thin layer of soil which is on rocks, but the seeds sprout with no solid roots (v. 5). The sun scorches what comes up, “and because it had no root it withered away (v. 6). Still other seed fell in a third condition of being accompanied by weeds, thorns which choke out the desired fruit from the seed sown (v. 7).
However, despite these three conditions, it is the hope of the sower that most of the seed sown will be deposited in good soil, protected from birds, shallowness of a hardened base, and thorns which choke out the life desired. “‘But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprung up, increased and produced some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.’ And he said to them, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear’” (vv. 8-9)! When Jesus, the twelve and those immediately around them had separated from the crowds, Jesus communicated to them the purpose of his using parables (v. 10). It was a way of revealing the mystery of the kingdom to some, but not to others (v. 11).
For some, the parables remained a mystery, and their sins remained unforgiven (v. 12), but with his disciples he explained the parable of the sower and the soil in greater detail. Mark points out that the first group have Satan stealing the seed away from hardened ground (vv. 13-15). The second, who are shallow, are swayed by temptation (vv. 16-17), and the third with weeds which are the cares of the world (vv. 18-19). Three things are necessary for a harvest – the message of the word heard, good soil properly prepared to accept it, and the bearing of fruit (v. 20). God works in the lives of his own to prepare them for the seed of the word, and parables serve to separate his people apart (Lk. 8:4-10).