Listen! The Lord Jesus Christ is on an Amazing Mission to save all of humanity. And I’ve already told you how he’s going to do it!
We’ve been talking about the truth that Jesus is Amazing! He is an amazing teacher and friend – and he is on an amazing mission. In our text today the reputation of Jesus continues to expand. Crowds gather and press in to hear him, to experience healing. Last week he was trapped in a house by the crowds. Today he is at a sea shore about to be pressed into the water, so he got into a boat and sat in it on the lake and taught the people from there.
So many people hearing the words and teachings of Jesus – experiencing healing from disease and demons – the crowds cannot get enough of Jesus. He is truly Amazing! But being under the sound of his words and being in the presence of his work is not the same as receiving Him. How many people in today’s world know about Jesus but that knowledge has no affect at all on their hearts and lives? 17% of Americans now describe their religion as “nothing in particular” (Pew Forum) There are many blessings to growing up in the church – but there is a danger – letting it all become old news. When we no longer find Jesus Amazing, we need to wonder what happened to the Gospel that was planted in our hearts long ago? Listen!
What Jesus has to say from the boat relates to our reception of His word and His work. He begins his message with a parable. He begins that parable with one word. LISTEN!
The Lord Jesus Christ is on an Amazing Mission to save all of humanity and he reaches out to those who will LISTEN!
THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER AND THE SEED
Some fell on the Pathway
Again he began to teach by the sea, and a very large crowd gathered around him. So he got into a boat on the sea and sat down, while the whole crowd was by the sea on the shore. 2 He taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Consider the sower who went out to sow. 4 As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. …. “Some are like the word sown on the path. When they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word sown in them.Mark 4:1-4, 15
Is our heart hard like a beaten down footpath-the seed just lands on top of it?
Barclay: “There are some people into whose hearts Christian truth can find no entry. … they are indifferent. They think that it is irrelevant to life…”
The word “hear” occurs 19 times in this chapter. There is someone helping us not to hear: The evil one who does not want us to hear or follow God’s word. When we choose not to listen to God we are:
-Hardening our hearts.
-Aiding the enemy who hates us.
-Keeping God from cultivating the Kingdom heart within.
Do I have a hard heart?
Some Fell on Rocky Places
Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it grew up quickly, since the soil wasn’t deep. 6 When the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. …. “When they hear the word immediately they receive it with joy. But they have no root; they are short- lived. When distress or persecution comes becomes of the word, they immediately fall away.”Mark 4:5-6, 16-17
How many receive the word Joyfully, but never advance? A shallow faith will lead us away fromGod when difficulties come – and they will.
“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”Jeremiah 17:7-8
Some fell among thorns
Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it didn’t produce fruit. …These are the ones who hear the word, but the worries of this age, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”Mark 4:7, 18-19
Jesus said the thorns were the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things make the seed choked and unfruitful. Some all this a divided heart.
A young man proposed to a young woman. “I want you to know that I love you more than anything else int he world. I want you to marry me. I’m not rich. I don’t have yacht or a Rolls Royce like Johnny Brown, but I do love you with all my heart.” She thought for a minute and then replied “I love you with all my heart, too, but tell me more about Johnny Brown.” (Hughes)
Hughes: A heart that is overcome with a love for riches and the things of this world is not a believing heart…the love of the world has strangled all vestiges of Christianity” from our lives.
Some fell on Good Ground
Still other seed fell on good ground and it grew up, producing fruit that increased thirty, sixty, and a hundred times. …. These hear the word, welcome it, and produce fruit thirty, sixty, and a hundred times what was sown.Mark 4:8, 20
When our heart is good ground the Kingdom can take hold. We benefit from the spiritual harvest provided. Talk to others about Christ (sow the seed). Share our blessings with others. Development of Christ-like character / good works. Praise and Thanksgiving.
We benefit from the Amazing mission of Jesus to save humanity when we LISTEN to him and receive the Word.
Listen! The Lord Jesus Christ is on an Amazing Mission to save all of humanity and he reaches out to those who will LISTEN! This parable reminds me ….
The crucial importance of keeping our hearts available to God
The power of the seed – the Word of God – in our hearts / lives
The benefit of being open to God’s teaching
The value of the act of hearing
The urgency of having a heart that is good soil – lest we lose out on all God has to offer.
The need to be sowing the seed ourselves
The most persistent sower is Jesus … His amazing mission to broadcast the gospel and receive all who hear … are we receiving His word today?
Do I have a hardened heart? A Shallow Heart? A Crowded Heart? An Open Heart?
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23
Am I a listener? Jesus begins and ends this parable with “listen”
- Do you have a green thumb? What have you been successful in growing?
- What do you think are some of the barriers that people have up that keep their hearts from receiving the seed of the Word? What can break through those barriers?
- The idea of the seed growing quickly but then withering because of no roots is found in other passages such as Ephesians 3:17 and Colossians 2:6-7. What are ways we can grow deeper roots in our spiritual life? (Some ideas might be in those passages!)
- The four soil (heart) types indicates that reception of the Gospel will not be as often as we would like. What thoughts does this spark about how we go about sharing the Gospel (methods)? How does this parable encourage us not to grow discouraged in sharing the Gospel?
- How can we improve on our own “hearing” of the Kingdom message in our lives? How do we keep our hearts open and tender to to the message of God?
- What are some sources of ‘noise’ that might keep us from listening to God as we should? What kinds of things crowd our hearts and squelch the sound of God’s Word in our lives?
- What else did you see in this parable that you wanted to talk about?