Today: [Mark 4] What Kind of Ground Are You? In Mark 4 Jesus introduces and then expounds the parable of the sower. In this teaching, Jesus makes it clear that the word once sown in your heart will identify the quality of spiritual soil your heart constitutes. What kind of ground are you? Are you good ground? Are you, really? This teaching will help you move from little victory in Christ, to 30, 60 and 100 fold blessing.
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[Mar 4:1-41 KJV] 1 And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. 2 And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, 3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: 4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. 5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: 6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. 9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 10 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. 11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all [these] things are done in parables: 12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and [their] sins should be forgiven them. 13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? 14 The sower soweth the word. 15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 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. 18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 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. 20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive [it], and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
In chapter 4 of Mark, Jesus continues teaching by the seaside after leaving the synagogue in Capernaum where He was confronted by the scribes and Pharisees and accused of casting out devils by Beelzebub.
The crowds continue to swell, so He uses a ship near to shore as a platform and begins teaching several parables of the kingdom of God. Here we find beginning in verse 4 the parable of the sower. The teaching in this parable compares the heart of man to soil in which the good news of the gospel is planted. In verse 11 the disciples come to Jesus asking Him to expound upon the lesson, because they do not full understand. This is where you see the difference between a disciple and a mere follower.
Because the disciples are pressing their inquiry, rather than shrugging their shoulders in disinterest, Jesus tells them it is given to them to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. This tells us something very important: though the kingdom is admittedly mysterious and Jesus Himself states, it can be known by those who care to make the inquiry beyond just casual listening. We also know that the parable of the sower is not only about the heart of man but about the kingdom of God. What is the connection here? Jesus, in Luke 17:20,21 states that the kingdom of God is within you, in your heart. Therefore, when teaching a parable with the heart of man as its subject, it is also in Jesus’ view a teaching of the kingdom of God that is found (in Jesus’ perspective) none other than in the heart.
Now, when the word of the gospel is sown into the heart, there are several possible outcomes, determined by the condition of the life of the hearer, and the quality of their motivation to actually listen to what is being conveyed:
- The seed can fall on the wayside, where the birds come and simply carry it away to be devoured.
- The seed can fall on stony ground, where it remains, but is dried up and scorched by the sun, because the stony condition of the ground keeps it from germinating and putting down roots.
- The seed can fall into thorny ground where it germinates and takes root, but is choked out by weeds and thistles.
- The seed can fall into good ground, where it produces varying degrees of yield, some 30, 60 or 100 fold.
In expounding the parable, Jesus tells us that the seed by the wayside is the seed that is immediately stolen away from the hearts of the hearers by the adversary, Satan Himself. Have you ever seen the enemy at work at the time a message is being given? It is amazing that we can sit through a 2 hour movie at the theater and afterward relate the entire story, but even a brief 30 minute sermon is in danger of being regarded as a total snore by even the most faithful church attenders. Even in the midst of a congregation, you never see children so capable of distracting adults near them by their adorable behaviors as they do in a church service. Mothers would never allow that to happen in another venue, but in church it is acceptable behavior while the word of God is being given. Whole programs of the church are geared and intended to take the children and young away from the preaching of the word of God by the pastor because there is a foregone conclusion that the word preached in the adult service will not benefit the very young. Where does this idea come from if not from a decidedly prejudiced opinion of the adults in the church against the quality and efficacy of teaching. Our church culture is deeply contaminated by Satanic strategies to marginalize and down play the importance and vitality of the preaching of the word and thus as the seed sown by the wayside (into the lives of those who think they have something more important, more entertaining, etc.) to do, thence the word that would otherwise benefit them and bring them to breakthrough is stolen.
What can we learn from the word sown into stony ground? Jesus says these are those who receive the world gladly (unlike those in the previous example), but they have no root, no depth of character. Their relationship with God is a mile wide and a half inch deep. They have an emotional affection for the things of God but when persecution comes, or persecution they are offended. That is what a stone represents in the bible, offense. In Psalm 119:165 the psalmist declares “great peace have they who love thy law, they shall in nothing be offended…” Are you offendable? Then judging by the testimony of God’s word you can only conclude that you don’t love the word of God and you won’t hold up when the pressures of life come to assail you.
What about the thorny ground? Here we find those who receive the word gladly, have root in themselves, that is a commitment to endure but life intervenes, not so much by sudden calamity, but by the insidious and draining demand of daily things dampening the fruitfulness of the word of God sown in the heart until these hearers have little more than an insipid, dish water religion, for all the dreariness of life that has conspired to contaminate their testimony, thus their lives look little different than those of the unbelieving world around them.
Finally, some hope – we come to the good ground which is the heart that gladly hears the word, that refuses to be offended when challenges come, that the word puts down deep taps roots and the ground of the heart is assiduously cleared by a ruthless discipline against worry, fear and the cares of life. This heart bears fruit. This heart demonstrates and produces what it was intended to produce, although the others looking on just don’t understand how the people with the good ground are being blessed and they are not. In each of the previous examples there are things that each person can do to make their hearts good ground, if they but will, and the promise is a return of 30, 60 or 100 fold. Can you imagine it? Jesus Himself is promising that you in your life can have 100 percent of what was intended by God for you to have in the promise of His word if you will maintain your heart as the Lord’s good ground!
21 And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? 22 For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. 23 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 24 And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. 25 For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath. 26 And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; 27 And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. 28 For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. 29 But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come. 30 And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? 31 [It is] like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: 32 But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it. 33 And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear [it]. 34 But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples. 35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. 36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. 37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
In verse 21 Jesus compares the word of God to a light, that regardless where you put it, will make manifest everything that is hidden. This is an allusion by Jesus as to why God as the sower sowing the word will sow the word into the wayside ground, the stony ground, the thorny ground as well as the good ground. When the word is sown into your heart it will belie, or bring to light the character of the heart. In other words whatever the word produces (or does not produce) in your life – it is a commentary not on the character of the word but on the character of the heart. The word of God is the great discerner. Is the word working in your life? Is it producing 30, 60 or 100 fold? If it is not what does this tell you? Time to change churches? Or time to change the heart? What the word produces in your life is not commentary on the quality of the seed or the anointing of the sower, but on the character of your own heart. You can change churches, change preachers but it is your heart that needs changing if you are not experiencing God’s good ground 100 fold results in your life.
In verse 26 Jesus compares the word of God again in agrarian terms, saying that all you need to do is to have the faith to cast your seed into the ground, go away and sleep night and day and you will have a harvest. Did you get that? Just have enough faith to plant the seed, go to be and get up and the word will work for you. How is this? Verse 28 says that the earth (your heart, the human heart) will produces blade, ear and full ear in the corn if you will just get the word properly, fully and receptively planted in your heart. Did you notice what verse 28 says? It says the EARTH will produce. We think it is the WORD that produces but that is not what Jesus says. The word actuates the heart to produce what we religiously think the word should produce. The seed is nothing without the ground it is sown in. This tells us that we have vastly underestimated the power of God that lies resident in the human heart, the power to change your life and launch you into your destiny if you will just receive, cultivate and trust in the seed of God’s word that has been given to us.
Thus, v. 33 tells us that Jesus spoke in many parables to the people and v. 34 makes the statement that WITHOUT A PARABLE spake He not unto them. That tells us that even when we think Jesus is speaking plainly we should stop and ask ourselves is there a deeper truth implied even in the plain language statements of Christ? Afterward, Jesus instructs the disciples to “go to the other side” of the sea. They turn the ship and head out, but a great storm has come to the point they think they are going to die. Have you ever heard God telling you to go in a direction, only to face opposition? Don’t question whether it is God’s will or not. Where is Jesus? Have you asked that? Where is God in all of this pressure and turbulence you are facing? You will find Him asleep in the bow of your boat. You are rowing, Jesus is sleeping. What is wrong with this picture? The disciples rouse Jesus and He rebukes them for not having any faith. He obviously expected them to learn the lessons of the parables He had just spoken to them. He expected them to do what they were looking to Him to bring about. That is a lesson we should all learn. Are we looking to Jesus to do what He has empowered us by His spirit, by His word properly sown in our hearts to produce? Even so, increase our faith, Lord Jesus!
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