In this part of Mark chapter 4 Jesus is explaining the meaning of the parable of the sower. Jesus said in Mark 4:14, “The sower sows the word.” The first emphasis that Jesus makes is on what is being sown: the Word of God. The Word of God is the only thing that can be sown if there is going to be lasting fruit in the work of God. If you desire to preach or to teach or to witness in this world, never forget that Jesus said, “The sower sows the Word.” It’s not your words or your illustrations or your explanations, it’s the Word that is the seed. “The Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.”
When the Word of God is sown, the results that come from it, the fruit, will be determined by the quality and condition of the hearers. The first example of this is the fact that when seed is sown, one of the things that can happen to keep it from growing and bearing fruit is that it might fall along the wayside. Jesus explained this in Mark 4:15. He said, “And these are they by the way side, where the Word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan comes immediately, and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.” In this case Jesus is emphasizing the efforts that the devil makes to remove the effects of the Word of God from the hearts of those who have heard it. The Word of God is publicly proclaimed, and the reason that it does not bear fruit in the hearts of some of the people who hear it is because Satan comes and takes away the Word that was sown in their hearts.
In other words Satan knows the power of the Word of God. That’s why he fights so hard to oppose the Word of God. Satan has opposed the Word of God by getting the Supreme Court to make decisions that have limited the teaching of the Word of God to children. Satan has opposed the Word of God by using false religions that have the wrong books and false writings instead of God’s precious Word. Satan has opposed the Word of God by influencing modern theologians to teach heresies concerning the truthfulness and accuracy of God’s Word. Sometimes people want to ask the question, “What about those who have never heard?” Jesus does not go into that question here. Jesus talks about those who have heard, and what their response is to what they have heard. One of the reasons that people do not respond to the gospel is because of the power of Satan who comes and takes the Word out of their heart.
What are we talking about when we say that Satan takes the Word of God out of someone’s heart? Remember that when we speak of the heart, we are talking about the innermost being of a person: the thoughts and the will and the emotions. Satan takes the Word out of the heart of a person by affecting the thoughts. The truth of God is delivered in words. These words become the subject of our thoughts as we hear them and think about them. Satan will give to the ones along the wayside other things to think about that are not consistent with the Word of God and that are designed to replace the Word. Concerning the will, Satan somehow encourages those along the wayside to go their own way, to be stubborn, and to not surrender their will to the message of the Word. Concerning the emotions, Satan finds ways to keep those along the wayside hard of heart so that they will not be touched by the message of the gospel. Do not let the hard knocks that you have suffered in your life harden your heart, or you will be playing right into the hands of Satan.
When the Word of God is preached it might fall along the wayside where according to Jesus, “Satan comes immediately, and taketh away the Word that was sown in their hearts.” Another thing that might happen when the Word of God is preached is that it might fall on stony ground. Jesus explained this in Mark 4:16-17. He said, “And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.” The hearing of the Word of God is what can cause Christians to be built up in the faith, and to grow spiritually, and then to bear fruit. Because of the difficulties from going God’s way, some people for a short time hear the Word with gladness, but then do not bear fruit. If I serve God, I will suffer for it sometimes because the devil hates me for serving God. Jesus said, “In the world you shall have tribulation.” Jesus said that some people will become offended at the Word of God as soon as affliction or persecution comes their way. Affliction refers to the difficulties that come against us because of unpleasant circumstances. Of course, persecution is what we suffer from people. Knowing what the Lord Jesus Christ suffered so that we could be forgiven of our sins should make us more willing to suffer the persecutions and afflictions.
In Mark 4:18-19 Jesus told us about the third thing that can happen
to people who hear the Word and yet do not bear fruit. He said, “And these are
they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this
world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering
in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” One of three things happens to
the person who hears the Word of God, but then allows obstacles to choke the
Word. The first thing that can happen is to be influenced by “the cares of
this world.” In the age in which we live because of the uncertainties of
life, human beings easily become too concerned and too preoccupied with meeting
their material needs. We need to remember that we have our heavenly Father and
our Lord to take care of us. We have great and precious promises that have been
made to us by the All-powerful One who cannot lie. Jesus said in Matthew
6:31-33, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What
shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye
Of course, for some people having their needs met will not be enough. They pursue wealth in an improper way. The person that you are is more important than the wealth that you possess. Your spiritual accomplishments are much more important than your material wealth. But some people become blinded by this important reality of the true meaning to life. Jesus said that they become choked by the “deceitfulness of riches.” There is nothing wrong with being rich. Someone is deceived when that person’s strong desire for riches takes away his opportunity to listen to the truth of the Word of God. By bearing fruit, Jesus is talking about what you accomplish in your life of lasting value. If you acquire great wealth without becoming a spiritual person, then you have accomplished nothing.
Some people have a strong desire for riches and it corrupts them. In this passage Jesus points out that having a strong desire for other things can also corrupt you. Jesus called this, “the lusts of other things.” One of the Ten Commandments is: “Thou shalt not covet.” Most sins are simply selfish desires of things that would be acceptable if done in the right way and at the right time. Why do some people hear the Word of God but then do not bear fruit? Some people desire some other thing too much, and their desire for this thing is stronger than wanting to serve God.
There is one place where the Word of God will take root and grow and bear fruit. Jesus said in Mark 4:20, “And these are they which are sown in good ground; such as hear the Word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” This is what can happen and this is what should happen when we hear the Word of God. The Word of God is alive and powerful. It can save souls. It can change lives. It is the answer to whatever ails you spiritually and emotionally and sometimes even physically. That is why it is so important to preach the Word of God in season and out of season, and to be a witness of the Word. It’s not your words. It’s the Word of God that will make the difference. Of course, it will only bear fruit if it falls on fertile ground. If you preach the Word of God and you are filled with the Spirit, and hearts are not touched then it is not your fault or your shortcomings. It’s because of the nature of the ground that it fell on. In some situations the devil will come and take away that which is sown. In other situations when hearts are hard and selfish, people turn away from the Word because of tribulation or persecution. And still other hearts will not be touched because they are preoccupied with the cares of life or the love of money or other things. It’s all about the ground where the seed is planted. If you want to see fruit, then find hearts that are humble, and go to them to deliver the Word. The poor souls on the wrong side of the tracks might just be better ground for the gospel than the materialistic upper income people in your community.
When the Word of God is preached, the amount of fruit that is born depends upon the condition of the heart that hears it. These are the last days. The devil is always looking for ways to limit the effect of the Word of God where it is sown. The distractions of the world have sidetracked many so that they will not hear. But when the Word of God falls on hearts that are prepared and hungry for truth, then there is the work of God that takes place. Fruit is produced. Lives are changed. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” If your life is not manifesting these things consistently, then either you are not hearing enough of the Word of God or you are not reacting to it in the right way.
Jesus spoke in parables. These parables were simple in a down-to-earth sort of way, and yet they are very profound. It does seem amazing that people do not understand them. There are so many very important things that people do not understand. Many church members do not understand the difference between the physical birth and the spiritual birth. They understand the physical birth: the birth that we all have when we are born into this world. But so few understand the spiritual birth. It is important to remember that the spiritual birth is spiritual. It is completely and entirely spiritual. Jesus said, “That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of spirit is spirit.” Only those who are spiritually minded can understand what that truly means. Those who are of the earth are earthly. They cannot understand spiritual things, because they cannot understand that the spiritual birth is totally and entirely spiritual. They continually substitute physical and material things to fill in the gap. There are many examples of how this error manifests itself. One of the most common is water baptism. Water baptism is a ceremony. Water baptism is physical and material in nature. Water baptism does not save from sin and water baptism does not cleanse from sin. Water baptism is only symbolic. A person who has turned from sin and come to Jesus in his heart, has been saved and forgiven and born-again spiritually. This experience of coming to Christ was totally and completely a spiritual experience. It did not have to take place in a church building or in a baptismal pool, because God is a Spirit and God is everywhere.
When Jesus taught the parable of the sower, He was primarily giving it to His disciples so that they would understand what happens when they preach the Word. Do not be discouraged in your work. You are not the one who determines what happens. The result is determined by the heart that hears the Word. The power to change hearts is not in you. The power is in the Word and in the Spirit. But in spite of the great power of the Word to change lives and to save souls, if it falls upon the wrong kind of ground, it will not bear fruit. If the Word of God has born fruit in your life, how fortunate and how blessed you are.
Copyright; 2002 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved