The Parable of the Sower and Soils

Mark 4:1-20

1 Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. 2 He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: 3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

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.”

I believe that this parable is set at this point in Mark’s gospel to give a broad explanation of the rejection or acceptance of the Kingdom of God. Obviously, the nature of the Kingdom as established by Jesus is different than what is expected by the Jewish people as a whole. In verse 11 Jesus calls it a secret.

Will what Jesus says be accepted?

Well, the Leaders in Jerusalem, as we saw last week are completely         rejecting.

Others respond in different ways.

How do we respond?

The message of the coming Kingdom of God is still relevant today.

It is not a kingdom of coercion!

But that does not mean that it is not a kingdom!!


So, Jesus gives a farming analogy to describe kingdom acceptance or rejection.


  1. Explanation of Rejection or Acceptance



The Seed is the Word. It is an oral information culture. So, the main     way to interact with truth is by hearing it!


  1. In order to believe people must hear v.9

        Ears to hear and eyes to see. Ears plus sound= the opportunity       for understanding.


        Isaiah 52: 7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of         those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring         good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your         God reigns!”
Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they         shout for joy.
When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own         eyes.
Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed         Jerusalem.
10 The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the         nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of    our God.


            Isaiah 6: 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of         unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes         have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand,         which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my         mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken         away and your sin atoned for.”

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And   who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

9 He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never         understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
10 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.


Romans 10: Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to    God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify     about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based      on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God   and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth         and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that      we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will        be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are     justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are     saved.

14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed    in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have     not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is        written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says,         “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 Consequently, faith    comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard      through the word about Christ. 18 But I ask: Did they not hear? Of     course they did


What do people hear? They hear the truth. They hear the Word of         God.

        “I am the truth!”


  1. The Word is powerful

        Isaiah 55:

        Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an         everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.
4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler and         commander of the peoples.
5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do    not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.”

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is         near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their         thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on         them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my         ways,” declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher         than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not         return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the        purpose for which I sent it.

Deuteronomy 30: 11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.


        There are other parables about the Word coming up.


  1. People remain responsible


People are responsible for not receiving the Word and allowing         Satan to snatch it away.


People are responsible for allowing hardship,(that arises because     the Word moves them into a different believing space than the world),       to drive them away from the truth of the Word.


People are responsible for allowing the worries of this world and       the deceitfulness of riches to choke out the impact of the Word in       their lives.


        These two things remain true at the same time:

  1. The Word is powerful.
  2. People remain responsible.


        And God knows who will believe. We do not.


So, let’s look more directly at the parable, which Jesus very helpfully         fully explains.


  1. Different Soils for Different Responses


The farmer plants seed: The Good News about the Kingdom of God      has been declared. John the Baptist, Jesus and the Apostles all share this message! Seed has been sown! What are the responses to the    coming of the gospel message?


  1. Definite negative responses

        Roadside soil- no penitration

Rock soil- no room for root growth



  1. Mixed responses but negative

        I do not include the rocky soil here.

Fruitfulness choked by other things. I Do not believe that people have to be perfect to be fruitful. The Word is powerful.



  1. Seeds reproduce what they are

Seeds produce more seeds. We believe the truth and produce the         truth lived out. We hear the truth, demonstrate the truth and explain   the truth to others. We do this while enduring the hardship that arises        because of the truth and while beating back the temptations of worldliness that would choke out the truth in our lives.






III. What Do Kingdom Seeds Produce



  1. The Word produces Jesus followers


        We set Jesus as our aiming point in our lives.

“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life!”


A certain kind of plant produces a certain kind of seed that produces    that same        certain kind of plant.


This parable works at every level of teaching about the         kingdom. If we don’t accept the teaching, the Word does not do its         work in our lives.



  1. Jesus followers believe Kingdom principles


        We accept Jesus’ teaching as the truth.

Love enemies.

Deal with sin on the heart level.



  1. Jesus followers produce Kingdom lives


You shall be my witnesses.

Make Disciples.

Jesus sent them out to preach.