Again He began to teach by the sea, and a very large crowd gathered around Him. So He got into a boat on the sea and sat down, while the whole crowd was on the shore facing the sea. 2He taught them many things in parables, and in His teaching He said to them: 3 "Listen! Consider the sower who went out to sow. 4 As he sowed, this occurred: Some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn't have much soil, and it sprang up right away, since it didn't have deep soil. 6 When the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it didn't have a root, it withered. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it didn't produce a crop. 8 Still others fell on good ground and produced a crop that increased 30, 60, and 100 times [what was sown]." 9 Then He said, "Anyone who has ears to hear should listen!" 10 When He was alone with the Twelve, those who were around Him asked Him about the parables. 11 He answered them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been granted to you, but to those outside, everything comes in parables 12 so that they may look and look, yet not perceive; they may listen and listen, yet not understand; otherwise, they might turn back- and be forgiven. "13 Then He said to them: "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand any of the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 These are the ones along the path where the word is sown: when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, immediately they receive it with joy. 17 But they have no root in themselves; they are short-lived. When affliction or persecution comes because of the word, they immediately stumble. 18 Others are sown among thorns; these are the ones who hear the word, 19 but the worries of this age, the seduction of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 But the ones sown on good ground are those who hear the word, welcome it, and produce a crop: 30, 60, and 100 times [what was sown]." - Mark 4:1-20
Here you are YHWH incarnate sitting in a little boat on the shore speaking to a vast crowd. Oh they couldn't have comprehended who it was who was sitting in front of them! OH veiled splendor; oh the matchless meekness to sit in a boat and speak. You, who since the dawn of time sat on the cosmic throne, and who's voice causes storms to rage all around you in the Holy Temple. Now You sit in a boat and speak to a crowd who cannot comprehend You!?! What was it like for You to now have a voice of a man when your voice use to cause all of creation to shake and tremble? You Spoke from Sinai and the earth shook and millions of people fled from the sound of your voice begging that you stop speaking.... they could not endure the sound. But now as a man, a group sits on a shore and listens to you speak to them from a lowly Galilean fishing boat! That voice that was so majestic and so terrifying now so veiled, so restrained. But this voice was still the voice like no other. Even the temple guard later says "no one has ever spoken like this man". What was it like when you opened your mouth and the grace poured upon your lips came pouring out? Oh the captivating grander it must have been to hear every word from your mouth.... at least for the receptive heart. How endlessly precious Your words are. So much better than gold or silver. So much better than the rarest jewels, sweet as honey. Jesus thank You for speaking to us, thank You for coming in such a way where we could actually stand, listen and endure Your words. Oh that we would treasure each and every gracious word from your lips. Oh the wealth you have given us. I am indeed very rich with abundance.
This specific parable deals with this very issue. He who has ears let him hear. He who has a fertile heart is he who can receive Your words; rightly esteem your words; tremble at your words; and obey your words. Oh to be found with a tender receptive heart; to be a resting place taking in every syllable from your mouth with care.
As beautiful as these words are they are equally terrifying. Not as Sinai, but because only the hungry in heart can see them for the glory of what they are. The proud see these words in parables as foolish. The proud listen and are further hardened in judgement. Jesus I remember when you told Isaiah to go and speak a message that would actually harden the nation of Israel (Is. 6). You commissioned Him to go harden the nation, to make them ripe for judgement. Oh how terrifying it is when God raises up a prophetic voice and sends them to those who don't have eyes to see or ears to hear. What if you raised up a true prophetic voice in America? How would we respond? But now in this scene instead of sending Isaiah, we see You coming off that glorious throne and becoming the prophetic voice Yourself. You burn with zeal for righteousness, and here in a simple parable is a grand invitation to those of hungry and humble postures but those of unbelief, pride and envy... these words are indeed a winnowing fork that is separating the wheat from the chaff.
For so long I was told that You told parables to be relevant to their culture so they COULD understand, but this is the exact OPPOSITE of what scripture says. Parables are meant to offend the mind to get to the heart. Parables expose the true condition; these parables remove the veneer of religiosity and give the self righteous over to their pride. Oh the depths of the wisdom of God. The same word that is life and peace to one is a torment and a sword to another. Jesus one thing is sure.... neutrality is not an option around you. Your presence evokes a response; it demands a decision for or against You. Oh how I tremble that so many heard Your precious words and didn't respond with true repentance. How I tremble that these words don't seem to sink down into my own ears.
My hope indeed is that those 12 disciples were given the unthinkable privilege to dialogue with you; to ask you questions.... and you actually answered them back! Oh to have intimate access to ask the living God questions and to have Him answer! An angel would never dare walk up to the ALMIGHTY and ask Him a question! Jesus how I long for this position of discipleship; how I long to be in that inner circle to push past the masses to inquire You face to face. Jesus only You can reveal truth, only in You can we discern the meaning of Your own words. For Your words are infinitely above us and we desperately need You to open up our minds to comprehend.
Oh how I love that the response you are looking for is the humble heart who will come to you and say "I don't know the meaning.... help!?!." You really do want a heart engaged and coming back to You in the place of prayer. How willing You are to make known mysteries to the hungry! How many times do I shrink back from asking assuming that You don't want to answer. You love the bold ones who will come looking for answers. But those that sit back and try to figure it out on their own?!? Oh the disparity of self sufficiency.
Jesus as I ponder your words I am reminded that you are "THE WORD" made flesh. You are the very interior revelation of the heart of the Father; for one speaks out of the abundance of his heart. These words were given to precisely and completely unveil the depths of the heart of God (though we will never fully comprehend)! These words are so different than my words. There is no false motivation, no desire for the glory of man, no platitudes offered to puff up your own reputation. You articulate every phrase with perfect clarity and fully disclose the nature of God. In contrast I speak and I walk away knowing that I cannot explaining myself. For I do not know the depths of my own heart. Oh but you me and more importantly you know the Father! You have been searching Him out as His begotten from eternity past. You are the fullness of the Godhead Bodily! Your words are life and truth and we will be searching these words for all of eternity and we will never get to the bottom of them.
Oh my soul treasure these words from the God-man! Let them be the most priceless jewels, the sweetest honey, eat them, devour them, feast upon them! Jesus here I am trying to put myself in a posture of listening. Now as I open up my mouth .....would you fill it! Precious Jesus feed me the scroll as you did Ezekiel and John. Let me sit with Mary of Bethany and just listen... just listen