Summary: Jesus makes it plain that our hearts determine how we respond to God’s word. What kind of heart do you have?

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Read or recite Mark 4

Mark records three parables of Jesus in this chapter that all have to do with gardening. The Four Soils, the Seed and Earth Producing of Itself, and the Mustard Seed.

How many gardeners are present here today? Sun, rain, seed and soil are all important components of a good vegetable garden, right? These are also used as comparisons for the kingdom of God in Jesus’ teaching. Look at Mark 4 and think about this. How did Jesus teach the word about the kingdom of God? What would we expect to hear about from him?

When the multitudes there in Galilee gathered to see and hear Jesus, he chose to teach them in parables. Mark says that Jesus didn’t speak to them without a parable. Does that strike you as a bit strange? Now we know from Matthew that Jesus also taught in sermons that were clear and direct without parables. But if you look carefully you will notice that those sermons were addressed to his disciples, not the multitudes.

In Matthew 5:1-2 it specifically says: 5:1 And when He saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.

2 And opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying…

Notice in order here: 1. He saw the multitudes. 2. He went up on the mountain. 3. He sat down. 4. His disciples came to him. 5. Opening his mouth he began to teach THEM. Who is “THEM”? Is “THEM” not the disciples that came to him after he went up on the mountain and sat down? The Sermon on the Mount is for the disciples, not the multitudes. Jesus always explained everything to his disciples. His message to the multitude was more mysterious. Jesus himself made the distinction when he said, "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that ’Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them.’" (Mark 4:11-12)

These parables of Jesus are for the multitudes. Their explanation is for the disciples. There is a difference.

How do you hear Jesus when he speaks? That’s the question this chapter discusses. It begins with Jesus teaching and calling them to listen! It ends with the disciples recognizing that even the wind and waves listen to him.

Do you know the difference between wind and waves and people who don’t obey Jesus?

The wind and waves know enough to recognize who made them and who is Lord, disobedient people don’t.

As we look at Mark 4 today, listen to the word and hear what God teaches us through it.

Jesus begins with the parable of the sower. That is the one we will focus on in our lesson today. Actually, a better title would be the parable of the four soils. In this simple story Jesus reveals to us eternal truths about God’s word and the various conditions of our hearts.

Has anyone here ever had heart trouble? My dad died last September due to complications from a heart attack. Heart problems are not to be taken lightly. Heart problems run in my family. Both my grandmothers died from heart attacks and my mom takes medication for her heart. I’ve had chest pains before too, especially when both our girls got married within six weeks of each other. I think I’m doing much better now, but only God knows.

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