Summary: Freud once noted that people (with a few exceptions) were worthless. God said that we were worth the price of His Son. How much you think people are worth will determine who you agree with.
Several years ago this advertisement was placed in a New England are newspaper:
"Unknown item for sale. We know it's valuable; we just don't know what it is. If you can identify it, we'll sell it for $250.” (Reader’s Digest 9/02 p. 145)
Sometimes it’s hard to decide what something is worth. My daddy once said that when you’re selling something you can ask whatever you like. But something is only worth what someone else is willing to pay you for it.
ILLUS: About 10 years ago, a man was browsing at Music City Thrift Shop Nashville. He found an old yellowed rolled-up document that had the Declaration of Independence written on it. It was priced at $2.48, so he bought it.
But he was curious about it because it looked so old, and so he did some online research and then sent it to someone he trusted to evaluate it. It turned out it was one of the 200 “official copies of the Declaration that had been commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1820. The firm that examined it determined he could sell it for about $250,000
The man ended up selling it to an investment firm for almost ½ a million dollars. (https://www.deseretnews.com/article/680193028/Declaration-moves-from-rags-to-riches.html)
So, how much was that old yellowed scroll worth? Well… it was worth whatever someone was willing to pay for it.
Now, here’s a question: What are YOU worth?
Jesus compared your worth to a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost Son. The Bible says you were worth so much that God gave His only begotten Son that whosoever should believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. That’s how much you are worth to God.
But not everybody agrees. Sigmund Freud (the founder of psychoanalysis) once said: “In the depths of my heart I can’t help being convinced that my dear fellow-men, with a few exceptions, are worthless.”
And in the days of Jesus, the Pharisees would have agreed with Freud. They often condemned Jesus for hanging out with the losers in society saying: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” Mark 2:16
And even today, there are way too many churches that will allow only certain kinds of folks to come to their church buildings and sit in their pews.
So, the question today is this: Do we agree with God (as to value of men and women) or with Sigmund Freud? And who would you know you agreed with God or Freud? Well you can tell by understanding how much the lost and the struggling are worth to you.
And that brings us to our text this morning. Jesus said “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” Mark 4:1-8
ILLUS: When you sent me to Israel a couple years ago, one of the places I visited was Jesus’ childhood hometown - Nazareth. On the outskirts of modern Nazareth they found (and rebuilt) an ancient watch tower. In addition they added a model of a traditional home of the era, plus a workshop and other buildings that would have existed in days of Jesus. But what caught my attention was the remnants of some ancient farmland.
If you were fortunate enough back then to have inherited “bottom land” down in the valley you might become a wealth man. But this section of Nazareth was built into the hillside and had “terraced” farms. People in this area only had “farms that were little bigger than a good-sized garden.
This land had a mixture of shallow ground where there was rock was just about an inch under the soil, as well some sections where the ground was fertile and would yield a good crop. Seemingly everywhere there were a fair amount of weeds and though you might pull a lot of them… there’d still be a fair amount still growing alongside the crops. In addition, the owner would access his particular plot by a path that ran between his land and his neighbor’s.
Now, with the right tools, you MIGHT be able to make ALL the ground useful. But Nazareth was a poor community with limited resources, so farmers did what they could with what they had. As a result, the “farmers” threw their seed everywhere, hoping some of it would grow. Their land was precious (since there wasn’t much of it), but the seed was comparatively cheap.