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"A farmer went out to scatter seed"

July 25, 2022

Daily Scripture

Mark 4:1-20

1 Jesus began to teach beside the lake again. Such a large crowd gathered that he climbed into a boat there on the lake. He sat in the boat while the whole crowd was nearby on the shore. 2 He said many things to them in parables. While teaching them, he said, 3 “Listen to this! A farmer went out to scatter seed. 4 As he was scattering seed, some fell on the path; and the birds came and ate it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground where the soil was shallow. They sprouted immediately because the soil wasn’t deep. 6 When the sun came up, it scorched the plants; and they dried up because they had no roots. 7 Other seed fell among thorny plants. The thorny plants grew and choked the seeds, and they produced nothing. 8 Other seed fell into good soil and bore fruit. Upon growing and increasing, the seed produced in one case a yield of thirty to one, in another case a yield of sixty to one, and in another case a yield of one hundred to one.” 9 He said, “Whoever has ears to listen should pay attention!”

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.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Jesus often used stories about common objects or events to teach uncommon truths. Likely a farmer was hand-casting seed on a nearby hillside, in plain sight, as Jesus told this story. Verses 10-12 did not mean that Jesus intended parables to hide his message. In verse 12, he alluded to Isaiah 6:9-10, which described ironically what was happening, not what God wanted. Hearers with closed minds, in Isaiah’s or Jesus’ day, wouldn’t hear no matter how much they listened.

  • Jesus described the usual outcomes when a farmer sowed his seed by hand across a field. Not all the seed grew, but what took root bore an abundant crop. Jesus used that image to teach about the factors that hinder or nurture spiritual life. What steps are you taking to make your mind and heart “good soil” in which God’s word can grow and bear a good crop?
  • Jesus ended his parable with a common Hebrew phrase: “Whoever has ears to listen should pay attention!” It was not mainly about eardrums. “In the Bible the ear is synonymous with the heart and mind as an organ of cognition (Proverbs 2:2; Isaiah 6:9–10), and true hearing involves listening and understanding (Job 34:16).” * What has helped tune your inner, spiritual “ears” to God’s voice? What helps you steadily seek to understand God’s teachings, rather than giving up?

Lord God, you want me to know you. You reveal yourself in many ways, some of them subtle and quiet. Give me ears to listen, a spirit attentive to all you wish to convey to me. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Autumn Olson

Autumn Olson

Autumn Olson is a summer intern working in rezlife (mostly at the Leawood location). She is originally from Monticello, Minnesota, an hour NW of Minneapolis/St. Paul. This coming school year she will be a junior at Colorado Christian University in Denver, majoring in History with a double minor in Youth Ministry and Education. She says, "God has been teaching me a lot in the past few years in my own spiritual journey, but I know I have much to learn."

Today’s GPS asked, “What steps are you taking to make your mind and heart ‘good soil’ in which God’s word can grow and bear a good crop?” One way I like to look at this passage is to think of the seed as the talents God has given each of us. If we plant ourselves in good soil, we are using the particular gifts God has given us to serve him and our community. God gave us these gifts so that we would bless others with them as well, so we are serving him when we serve others.

One step I take to do this effectively is to pray constantly. As I pray individually, I never end my prayer with “Amen.” I just pause and continue to pray at another time, which encourages me to be in constant (well, at least frequent) prayer. Every morning I thank God for the day and ask him to make me aware of how I can serve others that day. This is my way of allowing myself to listen to the Holy Spirit to learn how I can use my gifts to help show others the love of Christ.

The GPS also asked, “What has helped tune your inner, spiritual ‘ears’ to God’s voice?” I’ve had the spiritual goal this year to get better at discerning what God is trying to show and tell me. I don’t expect to hear an audible voice but rather a subtle nudge. After paying attention to it for the past nine months or so, I have gotten better at it–-not perfect, of course. Along with aiming for frequent prayer, reading the Bible and listening to sermons have helped me exponentially. God’s voice is throughout the whole Bible, so what better way to learn what he sounds like than through his Word?

Sometimes I still fail to pray about a concern, go to the Bible to understand who God is, or go to a pastor or mentor when I have a question. Through my struggles, though, I know God is patiently waiting for me. God wants me to learn and grow closer to him. In the Gospels, Jesus didn’t explain every parable he told, yet he explained this one. He wanted to plainly explain the importance of what being planted in good soil means so that the disciples (and us centuries later) could understand how much he yearns for all of his children (the entire world) to be in good soil. God wants that relationship with every person, and it is our privilege to give that message to others. Being in community with other believers gives me the encouragement to keep trying to reach others who haven’t heard Jesus’ message of love and hope. We can hear God’s message through the Bible and other believers. We can be planted in good soil by Jesus. We only need to ask him.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III, general editors, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, USA, 1998, p. 223.