Teaching Future Sowers
And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?
The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” Mark 4:13-20
When I teach on Mark, I affectionally call it the “Gospel of the Knuckleheads.” We are introduced to another central theme: the disciples’ continued lack of understanding. No Gospel is harder on them. This leads many scholars to believe that Mark’s source was none other than the self-effacing Apostle Simon Peter.
In today’s passage, Jesus explains the parable of the Sower from Mark 4:3-8. Jesus is the Sower of faith, and he is training future sowers. He casts the word, and some will not receive it because Satan interferes before faith takes root. Others will come to believe with excitement, but the environment around them is inhospitable, and they wilt away. Then there will be those that take root and grow, but then they get distracted by the things of the world and fail to bear the fruit of the faith. But there will be those who receive faith, cultivate it in a healthy environment. and bear fruit that will change the world because they will sow many seeds.
Eleven of the twelve apostles will become successful sowers of the faith that they received from the Master Sower. Those reading Mark’s Gospel should hear this as a call story that also comes with a caveat: You will sow much seed, but don’t be discouraged that only some will bear fruit of the faith! (Homework: Read Acts 17:22-34 to see the response to Paul’s speech before the Areopagus.)
My life seems to have been a journey through some of the scenarios in this parable. There have been times where I was distracted by the shiny bobbles of the world, and others where my faith thrived even when the environment around me was toxic. But even so, you called me to be a sower, and I answered!
I have been sowing for over two decades. Some of the seeds never rooted, and some rooted and withered. Some have yet to bear fruit, and others are now sowing.
Thank you Lord for calling me!
I pray this in the name of the Author of LIfe, the Universe, and Everything (42). Amen!