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Mark’s first-century biography – page 12

Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 

Jesus (prior to AD 30) often taught the crowds by the sea. On this occasion the crowd was very large. They remained on the land and Jesus was on the sea – seated. Looked at metaphorically, Jesus may have been signaling that, for those on earth, he remains in charge of our unpredictable sea of life. 

And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it."
 
The key didactic method of Jesus was “parables” – a word meaning “parallel”, or “metaphor”. His listeners have to think for themselves. They cannot merely listen and learn by rote. Truth must be discovered not merely received. 

This time, his key subject matter was “sowing”. Three times in this “parallel” he used the same word: - “sower”, “to sow”, “sowed”. He doesn’t use the word “seed” – the two mentions of “seed” above were added by translators to assist our understanding. It’s the sower that counts – only the sower. 

 
Some of what the sower is sowing falls down when I’m on my pathway to something else. Birds gobble the sower’s stuff.  


‘I have decided to follow Jesus / no turning back / no turning back. / The world behind me / the cross before me / no turning back / no turning back.’ (Hymn) 
“Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.”

Some of the sower’s stuff comes down among the unchangeables in my life – the rocks. The sower’s stuff looks good to the little ground that exists. But sun and heat burn it dry. I can’t let it take root. Some of the sower’s stuff goes among thorns in my life – the things that I’ve become obsessed about. My obsessions are my master – I serve them, not they me.

“And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 

At this point in time Jesus stops teaching and leaves the great crowd alone to the thoughts of each individual in it. His final instruction is that, whoever it may be in the crowd who has been given the ears actually to hear must indeed hear. Do you think he expected some to persist in finding out who was the real sower (the actual “parallel” to the sower he spoke about)? And what it was that he was "sowing"? As mentioned above, he didn’t say the word “seed” – not even once. Is he the real sower? And is he also the seed sown?

And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is 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.’


 
The underlined words above are from the words of the LORD God to Isaiah some 800 years before Jesus came. Please see his instructions on the right. What do you make of it?

Isaiah was told that the LORD’s people Israel, faithless as they had become, would be reduced to a single stump. That stump – that single worthy person – would be the “holy seed”. 


(Isaiah’s record of the LORD’s instructions, c. BC 735) “Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, and the Lord removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump.” 
Was Jesus that “holy seed”? Was he the real sower? Did he come so as to be killed by his own people – and thereby be able to forgive them? Is that why things needed to be hidden from their eyes - until after they had crucified him?
 
Sinner Syvret

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