Summary: God's word is like a seed - it's meant to be planted, to take root, to grow and to bring forth new life! What place do you give the word of God in your life?

The Big Picture - Mark 4:1-20 - January 13, 2013

Series: I Want To Follow Jesus - #1

I’ll invite you to open your Bibles with me this morning to the Gospel of Mark – Mark chapter 4, beginning in verse 1. Jesus is teaching the people and He is going to tell them a series of parables about the kingdom of God. The word “parable” literally means “to throw alongside.” As Jesus is speaking to the people, He is throwing God’s truth alongside the reality they know in their daily lives, in order that they may begin to discern deeper spiritual truths. He wants them to begin to understand the “Big Picture” of what God is doing and of what is taking place in their day. So let’s begin reading in chapter 4, verse 1 and see if we can’t catch a glimpse of the “Big Picture,” ourselves. This is what we read …

“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. He taught them many things by parables, and in His teaching said:

“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.” Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”” (Mark 4:1–9, NIV84)

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” That’s an unusual phrase - but one we find several times in the pages of God’s word; it’s an admonition to not just hear the words themselves but to listen to them and to take them to heart. It’s something we often struggle to do. Here’s a case in point:

At one time, Sir William Osler was a professor of medicine at Oxford University. One day he had a class full of students seated before him, and, wanting to emphasize the importance of observing details, he reached down to his desk and picked up a bottle labelled, “urine.”

Holding it high, he announced, "This bottle contains a sample for analysis. It’s often possible by tasting it to determine the disease from which the patient suffers.”

Suiting actions to words, he dipped a finger, first, into the fluid, and then into his mouth. Then he continued to speak, saying, "Now, I am going to pass the bottle around. Each of you do exactly as I did. Perhaps we can learn the importance of this technique and diagnose the case".

The bottle made its way from row to row, each student gingerly poking his finger in, and sampling the contents with a frown.

When all were done, Dr. Osler retrieved the bottle, and then startled his students with these words: "Gentlemen, now you will understand what I mean when I speak about details. Had you been observant you would have seen that I put my index finger into the bottle, but my middle finger into my mouth!"

Folks, those students – each of them saw what Dr. Osler did - and yet they missed the point completely! I wonder how many of us do exactly the same when it comes to the things of God? We can be like those described in verse 12 of our passage this morning, "Ever seeing but never perceiving, ever hearing but never understanding." There are times we see, but do not perceive, times we hear but have not heard.

A fellow by the name of Gordon Curley has said it this way: And so it might be that we sit in church each Sunday morning, listening to sermons about God, but never hearing the voice of God. At home we open our Bibles, which fills “a few minutes of your time; but [does] not fill the need in your heart.” (Gordon Curley, “The Parable of the Sower,” Adapted, And we wonder what’s missing, we wonder why our faith seems so empty, why God seems so far away? May it be that we are seeing, yet not perceiving, hearing, but never understanding?

In the book of Amos we find these words, ““The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.” (Amos 8:11, NIV84) Because of the hardness of people’s hearts in their time of plenty, because of their continual rejecting of God’s word day by day as they knowingly made choices out of sync with God’s will, in their time of need they would not hear the words of the Lord that they suddenly longed for.

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