Mark 4:20
Yet others are like the seeds sown on good soil. They hear the word, receive it, and produce a crop--thirtyfold, sixtyfold, or a hundredfold."
Parabolic TeachingJ.J. Given Mark 4:1-20
The Process of Truth in the SoulE. Johnson Mark 4:1-20
The Duty of Faithfully Hearing the WordR. Green Mark 4:1-25
The Parable of the SowerA.F. Muir Mark 4:3-9, 18-23
The Parable of the SowerA.F. Muir Mark 4:3-9, 18-23
The Parable of the SowerA.F. Muir Mark 4:3-9, 18-23
The Perils and the Prospects of the Good Seed of the KingdomA. Rowland Mark 4:15-20
The importance of the parable of the sower is shown by the prominence given to it by the evangelists, and by the question of our Lord in the thirteenth verse, "Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?" In some respects it was the basis of similar teaching, while the key to its interpretation, given by the Lord himself, opens the door of other mysteries. The illustration is an analogy, going deeper than many suppose. Husbandry was the appointment of God when man dwelt in the bliss of paradise, before the Divine order had been interfered with by human sin and self-will. Even in man's unfallen state, seed had to be sown and cared for, while the blessing of heaven was always essential to its productiveness. He who made the first Adam a sower in things natural, made the second Adam a Sower in what was spiritual. Our Lord referred to himself and to all who follow him in his work when he said, "Behold, the sower went forth to sow." Now, soil and seed are essential to each other. Many a man has the "honest and good heart;" but he must not be content with that, for, as the richest soil will remain empty unless seed be in it, so even such a heart will be unproductive of spiritual results without Christ, the true and living Word. While the soil is thus useless without the seed, the seed is unproductive without the soil. Hence Christ urged men to receive him, and hence he said of his teaching, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." Christian truth may be intellectually known and propagated, but the world is only the richer for it as it becomes the inspiration of human hearts. Christ's words must be translated into men's lives, that they may be read as "living epistles." In a sense, the Lord himself must become incarnate in each of his followers (Colossians 1:27). For the world's sake, as well as our own, may we receive the seed of the kingdom! This parable speaks of -

I. THE PERILS WHICH THREATEN THE GOOD SEED. Let us seek to recognize them in the various thoughts which contend for the mastery with Christ's truth.

1. Evil thoughts. They come through companions, from books, etc., but find their source in Satan (Ver. 15). Often we find that they are most intrusive just after or during our holiest hours. They are like the birds of prey which swooped down on Abraham's sacrifice when he was making his covenant with God (Genesis 15.). Like him, we must seek by constant watching and effort to drive them away.

2. Vacant thoughts. The foolish habit of letting thoughts wander as they list, settling nowhere on what is definite or dignified, is a characteristic of the shallow characters represented by the rocky soil. Earnest conviction and the abiding stability which follows it cannot belong to these. Well is it when each can say, "I hate vain thoughts, but thy Law do I love."

3. Anxious thoughts. "The cares of this world" (Ver. 19) are destructive of the serenity and rest which Christ's true disciples should always rejoice in. Therefore our Lord so urgently warns us against them (Matthew 6:25-34). St. Paul says, "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God," and then "the peace of God... shall keep your hearts."

4. Adverse thoughts. "The lusts of other things "so absorb some that their minds are like a soil full of growing thorns. "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." Judas Iscariot was a terrible example of this. It would be useless to point out such perils as these if it were not that our hearts are not like the soil, which is destitute of will, of effort, and of a voice to cry to Heaven. Our condition largely depends upon our choice, or rather on the prayer which is the outcome of it; so that it is not in vain that we have guarded ourselves against the perils which beset the seed. From them let us turn to consider -


1. Swiftly gone, devoured by the birds, i.e. dissipated or destroyed by other thoughts. Warn against the flippancy and worldliness of much conversation in Christian homes on the Lord's day, and point out the injury which young people may thus receive.

2. Springing soon, withering soon. This is specially seen in sentimental natures. There is a shallowness in thought and experience from which we should earnestly pray for deliverance. It is well when such underlying rock is broken up by the plough of affliction.

3. Growing, not fruit-bearing. This is the condition of many professed Christians, whose homes witness to unconquered tempers and whose Churches mourn unattempted service.

4. Producing fruit and increase. All do not bring forth the same fruit, either in kind or in degree. Still we see the "thirtyfold," the "sixty-fold," and the "hundredfold," according to the gift and capacity of each. God only expects of us according to that which we have, and not according to that which we have not. The different talents entrusted to the servants (Matthew 25.) remind us of this; yet that every one of them could win the reward of him who had been "good and faithful." Allude to various examples of fruit-bearing among Christians, e.g. the quiet ministrations in the home, of which no one outside it hears; the steadfast adherence to Christian principle when slight swerving from it would bring an advantage, which as a keen man he is quick to see, but as a devout man is swift to spurn; the privilege of writing words which go forth to unseen multitudes, stirring in them loftier thoughts of God and of his Word and works; the pleasantness of the gentle girl who at school or at home thinks of every one before herself; the influence of the brave lad whose "wholesome tongue is a tree of life," etc. Each of these bears fruit, and that fruit is the new seed from which future harvests spring. - A.R.

That seeing, they may see, and not perceive.
Terrible, but just and adorable, is this conduct of God towards those who have deserved to be left to themselves. This dereliction has several degrees —

1. Their being abandoned to their own darkness.

2. Their not being able to understand the truths of salvation.

3. Their not obeying them.

4. Their remaining in their sins.

5. Their being condemned.God is pleased to give examples of this, that the children of promise may know how much they owe to grace. It is a mistake to imagine that whatever appears most severe and rigorous in the conduct of God ought to be concealed from Christians. He Himself instructs us in it, on purpose that we should take great notice of it on proper occasions, and glorify Him on the account of all the good we do, and of all the evil which we avoid.


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