Summary: The heart must be prepared by the Spirit to receive the Word and yield a spiritual harvest. Jesus discussed the four types of soil and their impact on the Kingdom. One tiny seed sown in the right place has unbelievable potential.
Sowing and Harvest
Mark 4: 1-20
Today we come to the first parable of Jesus, recorded in Mark’s gospel. This approach to teaching marks a definite shift in Jesus’ teaching style. We have discussed many accounts of the intense opposition Jesus faced while expounding truth. Along with the Pharisees and scribes, many others rejected the teaching of Jesus. While He had offered truth, they refused to receive it. From this moment on, Jesus will often teach in parables when gathered with large crowds.
Most are familiar with parables. They were simply earthly illustrations that had spiritual meanings. Jesus began to use these parables with purpose. The middle portion of our text reveals a conversation He had with the disciples regarding the parables, Vv.10-12. Here Jesus referred to Isaiah 6:9-10. He revealed that those who genuinely desired to receive the Word would be able to understand the parables, while those who had no intention of heeding His word would not be able to comprehend. Jesus revealed that our hearts must be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit if we are to grasp the truths of God’s Word. Unfortunately, those who reject the Lord and His teaching would remain in their sin.
This is likely one of the most familiar parables Jesus shared. He deals with the principles of sowing seeds and reaping a harvest. Let’s examine those principles as we consider: Sowing and Harvest.
I. The Sower in the Parable (3) – Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow. Jesus calls their attention in consideration of one who went forth to sow. While He offered little detail, there are a couple principles we need to consider regarding the sower. Consider:
A. His Discernment – Jesus simply proclaimed that a sower went forth to sow. This reveals the sower knew if his seed was to germinate and produce a harvest, he would have to sow the seed. This was a principle the people could understand. While we may not have a college degree in agriculture, we too understand this principle. In order for seed to do any good, and if there is to be any hope of a harvest, the seed has to be sown in the ground.
B. His Diligence – While possessing the knowledge necessary to plant the seeds, the sower also knew he had to actively plant the seed. His knowledge of seeds and harvest would have been of little benefit if the seed had not be sown.
Many understand the principles of sowing and reaping, and yet the majority are unwilling to sow the seed. We possess the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who receive Christ by faith are saved by His grace, forgiven of sin, reconciled to God, placed within the body of Christ, and guaranteed eternal life. Wouldn’t you agree that everyone needs such grace? If they are to have any chance of salvation, the Gospel seed must be sown. It is not enough to know the doctrines of grace. One must receive them. It is not enough for us to simply know the way of salvation. We must be willing to do the work and sow the seed if there is to be a harvest.
II. The Soils in the Parable – As Jesus continued to teach, He specifically mentioned four different types of soil and their impact on the harvest. He mentioned:
A. The Impermeable Soil (4, 15) – And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.  And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. The first soil Jesus mentioned was that by the way side. This speaks of the areas alongside the fields of harvest where people walked. The soil in those areas would have become hard and packed down, making it impossible for the seeds to permeate the soil. As it lay on top of the ground, the fowls of the air ate it and there was never a chance for these seeds to produce a harvest. Jesus revealed that Satan likes to come and steal the seed away before it has a chance to take root in the hearts of men.
Many hearts today are like the soil found along the way side. It has not been prepared to receive the seed and is quickly stolen away by Satan. This results from many factors. Maybe they are engaged in sin and have no desire for the Lord. Maybe their hearts are hard and cold toward the things of God. Whatever the case, the seed is removed before it has the chance to produce.