Mark 4:14, “The farmer sows the word.”
The four responses to the gospel are based on the four kinds of hearts Jesus mentioned in Mark 4:13-20, which are; (1) Rejection: from a hard unbelieving heart, (2) Backsliding: from a shallow heart, (3) Sinful: from a heart overwhelmed with sin and (4) Acceptance: from a believing and accepting heart.
In the parable of the sower Jesus taught that the preacher of God’s Word is the farmer, the Word of God is the seed and the hearer’s heart is the ground. The hearer decides what kind of heart they will have not only in receiving the gospel, but how they will daily live for the gospel.
First, the unbelieving heart is compared to seed falling on a path. Once the seed falls on the path Satan comes like a bird and eats the seed. This is likened unto someone who does not believe the gospel and refuses to try to understand it or receive it. They lose the chance to get saved and remain lost (Mark 4:15).
Second, the shallow heart is compared to someone who receives the Word of God like a seed falling in rocky places or in between the cracks. They believe the gospel and are saved for a short time but when the sun comes out they quickly wither and die because they have no root. Jesus said that the sun of affliction that causes them to go back on their commitment is the trouble and persecution they face as a disciple (Mark 4:16-17).
Third, the sinful heart is compared to a seed falling among the thorns and weeds. The seed has growth but it doesn’t develop and grow properly because the weeds eventually choke it out. Jesus said this person believes for a time but because of the “weeds” of worry, the deceitfulness of money and the desire of sinful things they get choked out (Mark 4:18-19).
Fourth, the good soil is compared to those who hear the Word of God, accept it and produce good fruit thirty, sixty and hundred times what was planted (Mark 4:20). Everyone who hears the gospel has the chance to except it and produce good fruit, but they must choose to believe the gospel and daily abide in Jesus (John 15:1-4).
In all the situations, it’s not the preacher nor the Word of God that determine the results- it is the free will of man. Our job as preachers is not to try and make “believers” but rather to go and preach the gospel like a farmer planting seed and let people make their own choice. Richard Cecil wrote, “He who sows, even with tears, the precious seed of faith, hope, and love, shall doubtless come again with joy, bringing his sheaves with him, because it is the very nature of that seed to yield a joyful harvest.” Start planting the Word of God!
- Ask God to guard your heart from giving up because of troubles or getting choked out because of sin.
- Be faithful to preach the Word of God whenever you have the opportunity.
- Pray that God will prepare people’s hearts and send you to those who are ready to accept Him!