After Jesus was accused of doing his works by the power of Satan, he began speaking in parables. The first major parable recorded in the gospel of Mark is the parable of the sower. He tells the story in a very large crowd, but then later explains it privately to his disciples. It is in this explanation that we see how proclaiming the gospel works for both the one proclaiming it and the those who are hearing it. Over the next several weeks we will dive into the various parts of the parable, starting today with the sower and his seed.
WHO IS THE SOWER
The one part of the parable that Jesus does not explicitly reveal is the identity of the sower. However, if we look into the text (and other texts surrounding the concept of proclaiming the gospel) we can see quite clearly who the sower is. The ultimate answer is that the sower is God himself. God is the one who scatters the gospel seed all around the world. Jesus was scattering seed as he taught the people (Matthew 13:37). God, who is rich in mercy, has chosen to proclaim his gospel. But the sower is also those who follow Jesus in this practice. Those of us that he has saved are commanded by the great commission to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Christian you are commanded by Christ to scatter the seed just as Christ did. But this leads us to another important question.
WHAT IS THE SEED
Jesus explains that the sower sows the word. This truth cannot be pushed aside as unimportant, though many modern so-called followers of Christ would love to do so. The new hip thing to do for Christians today is to thrust aside the word as something that only needs to be used some times when it fits the narrative that we are trying to tell. There is an arrogance brewing today that seeks to evangelize by removing the authority of the Bible and replacing it with some assumed idea of what Jesus was “really” like. The new testaments accounts are not good enough for those who subscribe to this idea. Jesus in the New Testament constantly ascribed authority to the scriptures of the Old Testament (which he does in this very parable and several other places) and this does not fit within their own thinking about who Jesus was. They find the OT repulsive, and say things like “my God would never say that”. This reveals that their god is one of their own design, and not the God of the scriptures. Scriptures that Jesus proclaimed as true and unfailing. Of course one would have to believe in the Jesus that the new testament presents for this to matter. That is why many prefer to make up their own Jesus that fits their own worldview. This is done by both liberal theologians who do not trust the inerrancy of the Bible, as well as conservative ones who claim they do but twist the meanings to fit their own agendas. The seed that is scattered is not subject to our opinions and feelings. It is the very word of God, and it can stand on its own. As Charles Spurgeon once said, “Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself.”
THE SCATTERING OF THE SEED
The last thing to notice is that the seed is scattered indiscriminately. As we will study further, the seed is tossed in every direction liberally. This might seem inefficient, but it was a common method of farming during this time period. The seeds were scattered and then plowed. We, as ambassadors for Christ, are to be about the work of proclaiming the gospel indiscriminately. Yes, some of it will fall on bad soil and rocky ground. This is a harsh reality. But some of it will most definitely fall into good soil. Notice that the sower does not examine the soil before scattering, but he simply begins working. There is definitely time for strategy and careful thought, but those things should not dictate the work that God has called us to. He is sowing his gospel through us, and no matter what we are to walk in that. We can trust that he will give the increase that far surpasses the seed that did not bear fruit, as mentioned at the end of the parable. “20 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.” Mark 4:20.