Devotional #12. Mark 4:1-20

Devotional #12 (12/17/12).  The key to all other parables: The Sower.

Intro: Last week Jesus was accused of being possessed by a demon, talked about the “unpardonable sin” and also described who His true family was.

This Week’s Reading: Mark 4:1-20.

vv. 1-2. Jesus is back teaching by the Sea of Galilee and there are a lot of people. He gets into a boat so that He can be heard better and also not have everyone crowd in around Him. He is teaching in parables (remember in “Devotional #9” we said a parable uses common things to explain a point.)

vv. 3-8. This parable is about a person planting (“sowing”) seeds and what kind of soil that seeds land in. The type of soil that the seeds fall into will determine whether they will grow well or not. Jesus is comparing His words with seed and the soil is a person’s heart.

-“wayside”, the dirt of a road is hard packed so the seed doesn’t take root but birds come along and eat it.

-“stony ground” this would be rock that was under the dirt, deep enough that the plow couldn’t get it but shallow enough to block roots from growing and getting water.

-“thorns” these are weeds that suck all the water away from the good plants roots.

-“good ground” is soil that is perfect for a plant to grow.

[each of these will be explained more below]

vv. 9-10. Jesus tells everyone to listen and apply it to their life. But no one really understands what He meant. I can see them all acting like they get it in front of the crowds but then when Jesus is alone with them they ask Him, ‘what did you mean?’

v. 11. So Jesus asks why they don’t understand since they are being taught by Him. He is saying, ‘haven’t you been listening to me? I plan on helping you understand secrets of Heaven but you don’t even comprehend this teaching?’ Then He says that everything spiritual is hidden from people who aren’t Christians or aren’t willing to become Christians (see 1 Corinthians 2:13-16 for more on this).

v. 12. Here, Mark gives us a summary of what Isaiah 6:9-10 says (whereas Matthew quotes it directly). MacArthur says, “Jesus veiling the truth from un-believers this way was both an act of judgment and an act of mercy. It was ‘judgment’ because it kept them in the darkness that they loved (cf. John 3:19), but it was ‘mercy’ because they had already rejected the light, so any exposure to more truth would only increase their condemnation” (Source 1).

v. 13. When Jesus says “all parables” Jesus is saying we should pay attention because this parable of the sower is the key to understanding every other parable Jesus would tell.

vv. 14-15. The people who have a heart like a hard-packed road never receive Jesus because they let Satan steal the seed like a bird.

vv. 16-17. The people who have a heart like stony ground have a little dirt and are excited about Jesus but then as soon as times get tough they fall down. People like this often say ‘I tried Christianity but it didn’t work for me’ or they were relying on emotion or adrenaline and thought all their problems would go away.

vv. 18-19. The people who have a heart with weeds wrapped around them hear Jesus but love money or something else and are choked out. Money isn’t bad but loving it and being consumed by it is bad. People can get so worried about boyfriends and girlfriends, or cars, or a job that they never have time for Jesus.

v. 20. Finally the seed that falls on the good ground of a person’s heart will grow up and like a good tree or crop it will plant more seeds in other people. If we are willing to have God use us to share His words then we will see the Holy Spirit move mightily!

Summary: Jesus is saying that there are four types of people who hear His message and react in four different ways. Which way do you listen to Jesus’ words?


Source 1: MacArthur Study Bible, p. 146.



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