Verse of the Day Devotion. Mark 4:9
“And He was saying, He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” – Mark 4:9
As was His purpose, Jesus began teaching again to the people. “And He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very great multitude gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching,” Mark 4:1-2. He begins teaching those on the shore from the boat. And He is using the tool of parables to present the truth. And he starts off with “Listen to this!” Mark 4:3a. And then He ends with the same idea. He wants those who are there to use their sight and hearing in order to understand what He is saying. It is also an admonition to listen thoughtfully, which shows that the meaning of parables is not necessarily self-evident.
Here is the parable. “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and it came about that as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. And other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. And other seeds fell into the good soil and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” Mark 4:3b-8. The parable presents an accurate picture of what is known about ancient Palestinian agriculture. Unlike our modern approach, the seed was sown first and then plowed under. The sower held it in an apron with one hand and tossed it with the other. It was not unusual that some would fall upon the hardened path through the field, some where the soil was too shallow, and some among thorns as well as on good ground. Therefore, this was something His audience would understand. And then He ends this with the phrase, ”He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:9.
When Jesus was finished and He was alone with His followers, they asked Him about the parables, and He answered by saying, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God; but those who are outside get everything in parables, so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.” Mark 4:11-12. His disciples have been given the ‘mystery of the kingdom’ because they left everything to follow Him, thus showing their desire to fully understand what Christ is declaring. Those in the crowds are not given this knowledge immediately, but if they truly desire to know and seek it with everything they have, then they are able to obtain this understanding. We can see this based on what Peter wrote in his second letter. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9. God desires that all come to repentance, but the only way they can receive it is if they desire to understand what the truth really is and seek it with all their hearts.
So, what does this parable mean? The disciples appeared not to understand. “And He said to them, Do you not understand this parable? And how will you understand all the parables?” Mark 4:13. And because they were not understanding, He told them the meaning. He starts by telling them what is meant by the seeds. “The sower sows the word.” Mark 4:14. The Word of God is illustrated by seeds. And Jesus then follows with four different results, using the picture of seeds being sown, to show the results of giving the Word to four different groups. First, we read “And these are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.” Mark 4:15. When these people hear the Word, they hear it, but they didn’t take firm hold of it and Satan, in whatever manner he chooses, took it from them causing them not to accept it. Next, “And in a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.” Mark 4:16-17. When these people hear the Word, they immediately accept it, however when trials and persecution comes they immediately give up and fall away. Next we see, “And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, and the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” Mark 4:18-19. Here, the Word of God is sown, but not accepted because the riches and worldly desires take precedence and choke out the truth of His Word. And last, but far from least, “And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it, and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” Mark 4:20. These are those who hear the word, accept it in their heart and do not give it away. They accepted it and lived by it. But not all are as fruitful in the work as others. And as for the thirty, sixty and one hundred-fold, not everyone is going to be as fruitful as everyone else. We will be as fruitful as God gifts us. Notice He does not state those of thirty-fold are looked at as inferior to the sixty or hundred-fold,
There are various ways that God’s Word is received. Some ignore it, some place things at a higher level, and some refuse to be persecuted and decide accepting His Word is not worth it. However, we must go out to these in order to find those who will hear it, accept it, and live it. It is worth it even if only one gets saved. “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:7.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.