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Mark’s first-century biography – page 13

And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word.” 

Jesus had, a short while earlier, taught the crowd a parable – a seemingly ordinary story with a parallel. He did not give the crowd any explanation. 

Interestingly (for us) the twelve closest followers of Jesus didn’t know what the parable of the sower actually meant. When his followers asked him to explain, he emphasized their lack of understanding. And followed that with his own concern that they might remain ignorant about all the many parallels. 

Only then did he explain. The sower who went out to sow was sowing “the word”. What is this “word”? On a later page of his biography: Mark records this “With many such parables he spoke the word to them [the crowd], as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.” It seems from this that the “word” sown by the sower in the parallel included, at the very least, the words of Jesus – if not the complete message of “word” of his whole life on earth.
“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.” 

The immediate rejection of Jesus’ “word” was apparently not all it seemed to be. An “adversary” (Greek – satanas) was at work. 

‘The natural response to denials of Satan’s existence is to ask, who then runs his business?’ (J I Packer) 
“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.” 

For some there is an “immediate”, a “joyful receiving” of the “word”. The problem seems to be that, when they mention this to others, trouble and strife arises, for them, “on account of the word”. Is that so? Today?
“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.” 

For some a different situation exists when the “word” is sown and received by them. This time, the ordinary things of life “choke the word”. “Cares” like making ends meet, security and personal relationships, The “deceitfulness of riches” like houses, jobs and holidays. And “desires”? You name ir – those are different for every one of us. There was no problem with the “word” itself – that was OK. But the “word”, it seems, was “choked”. That good “word” became “unfruitful”. It became “unfruitful” because it was choked. By?

“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.” 

This meaning of the “word” sown on “good soil” has three essential stages. The “good soil” represents those persons who (1) “hear the word” and then (2) “accept it” and then (3) “bear fruit”. This seems to mean more than just having faith – more even than just having Christian faith.

‘Fruit is evidence of the root.’ (John Blanchard) 
And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 

Maybe this lamp stuff was a key element of Jesus’ “word” on that day in Galilee. If you have heard and accepted the “word” it is like receiving a “lamp”. One doesn’t hide a lamp; one doesn’t keep a precious illuminating secret to oneself. 

And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

Is there more than just hearing and accepting the “word”? To the extent that I put this “word” into action – to that extent will I have “still more added to” me. Or else lose the whole lot?

Sinner Syvret

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