You–a Diamond in the Rough?

“Again he began to teach beside the sea.  And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land.  And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:  “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.  Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil.  And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away.  Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.  And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”  And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”   Mark 4:1-9

This is one of Jesus’ most popular parables.  It’s easy to remember and so simple that a child can understand it.  But it’s much deeper than you think.  Like a diamond with multiple sides, this parable strikes at the multiple dimensions of the human heart–of your heart.  Jesus challenges us to have ears to hear–so let’s think of some of the things we need to listen to from this passage:

1.  There are different types of soils–different types of heart conditions…

This is how this passage is mostly preached–that there are different soils out there–different human hearts with various degrees of openness to the Gospel.  This is true.  This challenges us to ask ourselves, “What kind of soil am I?”

2.  Jesus is giving a throwback to Genesis 1…

In the opening verses of the Bible, we see God’s Spirit hovering over the initial mass of creation, bringing form, function, and beauty.  This speaks to the teleios aspect of God’s handiwork–leading everything towards a divinely orchestrated purpose.  And so now, God is doing a new creation in forming the new people of God centered upon the life, ministry, and purpose (teleios) of Jesus Christ.  This begs the question:  Has Jesus begun a reconstruction project in your life?

3.  Jesus is referring to God as the Sower–and now people are coming out of exile through his ministry…

God is the Divine Sower of His people–and now He is delivering them from exile.  The days of living under the indictment of the Law can be fulfilled and thus replaced by a new day of Grace–a new Kingdom.  This Kingdom is of course, set upon the life and ministry of Jesus–who is the Sower Par Excellence (God).  This makes us ask, “Am I living as free in God’s Kingdom–or am I still in the bondage of sin and the corrupt values of a fallen world system?”

4.  The four types of soil are really in each of us–so stay humble and repentant…

We would be arrogant to think that we are always only one type of soil.  Even if we are the “good soil”–there are moments and blocks of time in which we find ourselves more aptly described by the other types of soil.  This should humble us, and help us to remember that we are in a chronic state of need before Jesus.  Now we can ask in honest inventory of our own lives, “In what ways am I like each of these soils?”

5.  When it comes to evangelism, look for people who will reproduce…

Let’s face it, not everyone is open to the message of Jesus.  It seems that few today really want his message of exclusive salvation and hope found in him to be their life’s defining mark.  So we are challenged to look for “good soil” people–those who are receptive to his message of life and eternal hope.  This reminds us to ask, “Am I actively sharing the Gospel with others, in hopes of finding those who will reproduce this message?”

6.  Perhaps the seed should challenge us to be faithful to wherever God sows us…no matter what happens…we are the Gospel seed in the world today…

I’m not saying we are the Gospel.  I’m saying that as children of God in Christ, we are the Gospel-seed that reproduces this message of hope with ripple effects in all we say and do.  And in so doing, we cannot always be choosey about where we do this.  In other words, the seed in this story was utterly consistent with its unique purpose and identity to do one thing:  to die in order to reproduce.  In the same way, are you doing the same thing?  God has planted you where you are — will you die to your frustration over the lack of fruit or unfavorable circumstances that seem endless?

May these perspectives remind you of the immense treasure that God’s Word is to us–to you, as you grapple with a life of meaning and purpose in Christ.  Surrender to him in a way that is real and unique to you as you seek to give all of yourself to him in order to have all of him to you.

Published by Brian

Following Jesus has been the greatest adventure of my life. There have been times when I strayed, when I wandered, when the last thing I wanted to do was look him in the eye, but somehow his quiet love always pursues me, and leaves me hungering for more. ;-)

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