Sunday, August 2, 2015

Mark 4:10-20

When they were finally off by themselves, Jesus, his followers, and the twelve apprentices were debriefing the teaching session. They asked him about the meaning of the stories he had been telling.

Jesus explained, "I've been laying out the nature of God's kingdom, which is like a secret to most. To you I can speak plainly. But it's best if I speak in stories to the uninitiated. Stories can capture their imaginations and draw them closer to a fuller understanding of the truth. For these people are like those that the prophet Isaiah (Is 6:9-10) lambastes, 'They look and see -- but without insight. They hear -- but without understanding.' If they truly got the message they'd stop doing what they're doing and turn to the Lord -- receiving his forgiveness."

"So, I tell stories to break past their zombie-like numbness."

"How is it," he said to his close followers, "that you don't understand the story? If you don't get this story how will you ever understand all the other stories? They all play-out in much the same way."
The seed that the farmer scatters is my word -- my message -- me!

When the word was scattered and fell on the pathway, people heard it. But because they were so hard, the seed-word was an easy target for the devil, who swooped down and devoured every last seed he saw.

The seed-word that fell on the rocky ground is like the people who get all excited when they first hear it. It's hard to match their energy and enthusiasm. But because of the shallow state of the soil -- their lives -- the roots never sink. Pretty soon they face opposition or abuse of some sort. They're fried by the heat -- giving up and dying away.

Still others are like the soil infested with thorny weeds. When the seed-word lands, they give it a hearing -- but pretty soon the pressures and desires of life flourish. They're worried about this, that, and the other thing. They try to deal with the worries by pursuing greater financial stability (and the things which go with wealth). However, the desire for more stuff ends up choking out the seed-word. There is no fruit.

Fortunately, not all is lost, some of the seed-word lands on good soil and bears fruit that exceeds the original investment. These are the people who not only hear the word but who also cultivate and nourish it in their lives.
10 When they were alone, the people around Jesus, along with the Twelve, asked him about the parables. 11 He said to them, “The secret of God’s kingdom has been given to you, but to those who are outside everything comes in parables. 12 This is so that they can look and see but have no insight, and they can hear but not understand. Otherwise, they might turn their lives around and be forgiven.

13 “Don’t you understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? 14 The farmer scatters the word. 15 This is the meaning of the seed that fell on the path: When the word is scattered and people hear it, right away Satan comes and steals the word that was planted in them. 16 Here’s the meaning of the seed that fell on rocky ground: When people hear the word, they immediately receive it joyfully. 17 Because they have no roots, they last for only a little while. When they experience distress or abuse because of the word, they immediately fall away. 18 Others are like the seed scattered among the thorny plants. These are the ones who have heard the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the false appeal of wealth, and the desire for more things break in and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. 20 The seed scattered on good soil are those who hear the word and embrace it. They bear fruit, in one case a yield of thirty to one, in another case sixty to one, and in another case one hundred to one.”