It is hard to camp without a flashlight (not to mention a campfire and running water). For many people, electric lighting is not an option. I imagine they get very strong toes from stumbling into things. That’s what the people of Jesus’ time were doing spiritually. Right after the parable about the sower (see yesterday’s post for some backstory), Jesus explained the parable to His disciples. And it was like bringing light into a room. You did not bring a lighted lamp into a room to stick under a bed, or shadow under a basket! Here is the passage from Mark 4:
“21 And he said to them, ‘Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? 22 For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.'”
This brings to mind the parable of the talents, where each man was given a talent of money to use until the master returned. Those who used them to make more were given more responsibility, but the man who just hid the talent was sent to prison. “Use it or lose it” would be a modern interpretation.
When Jesus spoke with the disciples about the meaning of the parable of the sower, He seemed a little surprised that it was not more obvious to them. What clues were given in His messages?
Jesus was preaching about the Kingdom of God. He came after John the Baptist who was teaching repentance. He was being attacked by the Pharisees and established teachers of the day. He was focusing on building His disciples.
The parable about the sower focuses on the many paths a seed can take. While the soil it is planted on is very important, God is the One who causes it to grow. Paul speaks along the same lines in 1 Corinthians 3. There was quite a division over different preachers with different styles being the favorite. But that is not the point or the focus! God is the One to bring faith to completion.
1 Peter 2 speaks about how Jesus has saved us, and we need to die to our sin. A seed must die to produce fruit.
Luke 8 is another account of the sower, which finishes with, “15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”
The kingdom of God had come. It was different that the kingdoms of the world, with their rules and regulations. And Jesus was offering people a chance to join His kingdom. But it was not a circus tent. It was a quiet understanding.
I do not fully understand what Jesus wanted His disciples to learn from this preliminary parable, but I will look forward to exploring it with you more in days to come.
God, thank You that the Gospels are something you can read the first time, but have complex themes and outlines developed within them to point us towards truth, if we will seek it out. Thank You for Your work in our hearts as Your word is planted. Please help it to flourish in how I live and change my thinking process. Please bless this study of the parables with clarity. To You be the glory. Amen.