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Reading Mark 12 – The Parable of the Sower

16 April 2020 | by Emyr James | Mark 4

12 – The Parable of the Sower

Mark 4:1-20

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. 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. 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. 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.”

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.’”

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

Difficult words

  • Sower: Someone who scatters seeds
  • Tribulation: A hard time
  • Persecution: To suffer enmity
  • Deceitfulness of riches: Charmed or tricked by riches

Question 1

In how many different ways can people respond to Jesus?

Question 2

Why do you think that Jesus speaks in parables?

  This familiar parable shows what happens in the hearts of people when they hear God’s word. Jesus says here that there are four sorts of people. The first sort are so hard-hearted that the word of God has no effect at all, and they forget everything. The second sort are like rocky ground which appears to be producing fruit, but it is only an emotional response. Since there is no depth to their faith, when hard times come, they turn their back immediately. The next sort are like a ground which is full of thorns. Again, it looks as if the word has had effect. But before it can come to fruition love for this world kills the fruit. The last sort is different. They are like good soil. The word comes to them, they receive it, and they are completely changed.

  Have you realised the serious truth of the parable? Out of four sorts of person, only one has truly believed. The rest either refused from the beginning or didn’t persevere to the end. This parable is a warning to us to make sure we have welcomed the word of God into our hearts, that we are rooted in it and that we are taking care that we are not pulled away by anything the world offers us.

  But the parable also says something important to us about the true Christian. Firstly, everyone who believes in Jesus is going to show this by the way in which they live. But also, like a plant, the amount of fruit which comes and the speed at which it grows is going to vary from person to person. Therefore, there is no need to be disheartened or to be jealous when we look at the lives of others if we are growing ourselves.

Question 3

What sort of ground describes you best? Do you think it is possible for you to change?

Question 4

Do you seek fruit in your life? What sort?


that the gospel will be proclaimed faithfully, that God will prepare the hearts of people to receive it and that it will produce much fruit.