Scatter The Seed
Read: Mark 4
“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.” – Mark 4:3
These last week’s we’ve been thinking about the account of the demoniac in Mark 5. We’re not finished with him yet, but I want to look back before we go forward. Many times, in Mark’s story the action we see illustrates an aspect of the Kingdom that Jesus has presented. This is true with Mark 5, what we’ve been walking through together. Now, we need to pull back the curtain to see a more developed picture of His Kingdom.
In Mark 4 Jesus begins to teach about His Kingdom by speaking to His disciples and the gathered crowds in parables. A parable, of course, is a story designed to illustrate or teach truth. In Jesus’ use of parable, He will use story to illustrate truth about His Kingdom. There are four parables in this chapter:
- The Parable of the Soils (4:1-9)
- The Parable of the Lamp (4:21-25)
- The Parable of the Growing Seed (4:26-29)
- The Parable of the Mustard Seed (4:30-32)
It’s interesting that 3 out of 4 of these stories center around the seed. Notice the progression of thought:
- Cultivation and responsibility: The Soils—Stresses the importance of the soils in the scattering of the seed.
- Mystery: The Growth of the Seed—Trust that the seed will do its work, even when unsure how.
- Power: The Unstoppable Seed—Overtakes and others benefit from the growth from one small seed.
It’s a powerful picture of possibility: The possibility of change when the His Kingdom breaks through. His Kingdom is a Kingdom of peace. All chaos must cease at the power of His Kingdom. And, when His Kingdom is realized—everybody benefits. (We’ll get into this more in the coming weeks.) Today, I want to share a simple thought from the first parable: The Parable of the Soils.
I’m not certain, but I would say that this parable is one of the most familiar parables that Jesus spoke. I guess I say that because we seem to first learn about it when we’re in children’s church and Sunday School. So, I’m not going to dig into the path, rocky, thorny, or good soil. (See what I did there?) Instead, I want to think briefly about the farmer.
I am not a farmer.
I’ve never lived on a farm.
I don’t have family members that farm.
But the farmer in this story is a bad farmer.
Why would I say such a thing? Simple: He seems to be careless with the seed. Even with my limited knowledge of farming I know that you prepare the land before you scatter the seed. The field is cared for before the crop is planted. Yet, this farmer throws the seed everywhere. The seed is thrown on the path, rocky soil, and thorny ground as well as the prepared, good soil. He carelessly throws the seed and ¼ of the ground receives it and produces a crop. It seems so careless, so costly. But listen to how Jesus explains:
“The sower sows the word.” (4:14)
The seed is the Word of God.
The sower throws it everywhere.
There it is . . . the lesson we need to learn and consider as we go through this week. Our call is not to judge the soil. Instead, our duty is to scatter the seed wherever we go.
The seed will do its work.
Will we do ours?
Just scatter the seed.
How does this apply to what we’ve been thinking about in Mark 5? The Decapolis was a God-forsaken place filled with God-forsaken people. No good Jewish person would ever associate with the pigs, the dogs. In the Decapolis there was a rejected shell of a man that had been estranged from all society. He was unwanted, unwelcome, shut out. Jesus went and scattered the seed. That seed found good soil and the Kingdom was revealed.
As we start a new week together, let’s scatter the seed. It’s not our job to look for good soil. We just scatter the seed and trust the mystery. When that seed finds good soil, it will do its work.
Just scatter the seed!