Mark 4:13-14 (NKJV) Mk 13 And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word
In our last post we looked at the nature of the power in the written Word of God. We found that it is the power of a seed. Seeds are amazing bits of supernatural engineering. They contain within them the whole blueprint of the life they were made to produce. When the seed for a plant species enters good ground and is properly cultivated, it will inevitably produce what it was designed to produce. Nothing can stop the process if the conditions necessary for life are met. However, if there is no water and if the ground is not good ground, the life in the seed will not be released. The same is true of the Word of God.
In this parable, Jesus unlocks a mystery that reveals how God’s life is released in us by his Word. He makes it clear what the variables are in the equation. He shows us what will keep the life of God encoded in the seed of his Word from producing. We might be talking about seeds of holiness, which will produce the power to overcome sin. We could be talking about the seeds of healing, prosperity, destiny, love or any other promise or characteristic in the Word. If we make sure the seed has good ground and proper cultivation, we will see what God wants to produce in and through us come to fruition.
In verse 13, Jesus makes a very bold statement. He had spoken a parable about seeds and farmers. The disciples did not understand what this had to do with the Kingdom of God. Jesus says to them, “If you don’t understand this parable, how are you going to understand the rest of them?” Jesus stated this in the negative but what if we look at what he said from the positive point of view. “If you understand this parable, you can understand everything else I am trying to teach you.”
Obviously, this is my paraphrase of what Jesus said, but I think it is faithful to what he is revealing here. No less an authority than Jesus says that this parable is a key to understanding how the kingdom of God works. In our last post we looked at verse 26. Again, I believe this is a simple statement with sweeping significance.
Mark 4:26 (KJV) Mk 26 And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;
I like the way the original King James expresses this thought. So is the Kingdom of God. In other words, this is how the Kingdom of God works. It works in the same way a seed interacts with the ground to produce a plant. There is a growing season. The plant takes time to mature and when the plant begins to produce fruit, the fruit takes time to ripen. If the conditions are met, the fruit will manifest. We do not understand how it works. It just works.
Comparing verses 26-29 with verses 13-15, I think we get a clear picture of how important the principles in this chapter are to our ability to walk in the spirit. If I understand what he is saying in Mark 4, I understand what I must do to cooperate with the Lord and his Word so my spirit can be developed and grow to the kind of maturity that will produce both godly living and faith for the promises without the bondage of the law.
Verse 14 is very short but very important. The sower Jesus is talking about sows the Word. Jesus is not talking about just any word here. He is talking about the Word of God. The only seed that is relevant to what we need to know is the Word of God. He is not sowing good philosophy. He is not sowing our culture. He is not sowing the words of men. He is sowing the Word of God.
God has placed teachers in the Body of Christ. Therefore, we must conclude that the words of men can be filled with the seed of God’s Word. Nevertheless, we must be discerning. I tell those who listen to me preach, “Don’t take what I say as final. You go to the Word and find out for yourself.” Even when we are listening to good bible teaching, it is the Word of God that is the supernatural seed that produces Godly fruit.
There are other seeds in the world. The world has “word seeds” that it is constantly sowing into our minds. We need to realize that the type of seed we put into our “ground” in abundance is the crop we will produce. There is something about us that tends to rebel against what I am about to say. We need to give more attention to the Word of God than to any other kind of seed. This is not easy. There are so many other sources of seed. There are media and entertainment seeds. There are secular educational and political seeds. There are seeds of experiences. None are necessarily bad in themselves. We must understand that they are competing for our planting time.
Most of the things that bring worldly seeds to us are more fun than the things that bring Godly seed. Today more than at any time in history this is true, especially in developed countries. Of course, these are the ones with the resources to finance and expedite the preaching of the Gospel around the world. I do not think this is a coincidence. I believe we can enjoy all that modern life has to offer as long as it is not sin as defined by the bible. If we give most of our time and attention to world seeds, we are going to produce a flesh harvest.
Here is how Jesus says the same thing as part of this parable.
Mark 4:24 (AMP) Mk 24 And He said to them, Be careful what you are hearing. The measure [of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you—and more [besides] will be given to you who hear.
I particularly like how this comes out in the Amplified Bible. In the NKJV it says we should be careful what we hear. In the Amplified it puts it into a continual light. We need to be careful about what we are hearing. It is not just what we hear once. It is what we are continually hearing. Then he says, “The thought and study or the attention and focus you give to the word you hear will determine what you get out of it. If it is the Word of God you will get more life, blessing and virtue. If you give more attention to the seeds that come from the world, the flesh and the devil, you will get the world the flesh and the devil. It is our choice.
Some will say, “You are being too extreme. You don’t have to spend all your time reading the Bible and praying.” That is true. However, farming is a pretty extreme lifestyle. Everything depends on the crop. Whatever it takes to guarantee the health and abundance of the crop must be done. If you ignore your crop in the spring and summer, you will have no harvest. If you have no harvest, you will be destitute in the winter. You can complain about it if you want, but that does not help. If you are a farmer you accept that your life revolves around the seed, the ground and what those two things produce when they work together.
In the natural you can choose not to be a farmer. I am not. I am convinced that meat comes from the meat department, vegetables come from the vegetable department and so on. I can just go and buy what I need. However, someone raised the cow or chicken. Someone planted and grew the wheat in my bread. Someone planted, cared for and harvested the fruits and vegetables I eat. It just was not me.
In spiritual things, we do not have the same choice. There is nowhere to go to buy holiness. We cannot go to the healing aisle and pick up a pound of healing. There is no victory counter or prosperity display we can run to and pick up supplies. The whole Kingdom of God works like planting seed in the ground. Nobody can do my spiritual farming. I must do it for myself.
Just as a farmer’s life revolves around the time and effort that goes into the planting, growing and harvesting of a crop, so does the life of a Christian revolve around the planting, growing and harvesting the seed of God’s Word in my life. It may not always be fun. I may have to put aside other things. In the end, the harvest I reap in the spirit will be more than worth the effort.