Mark 4:1—Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. 2 He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: 3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that,
“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’[a]”
13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
33 With many similar parables, Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
So the question for you today is this, which soil are you?
Now, I think that it’s safe to assume since you’re all reading this, that you are not in the first category. You have heard the gospel, and you have not allowed Satan to come along and take it from you. But which one of the other soils are you? You could still be sitting in church today, and be any one of the other soils.
Let’s take a look at the second soil: Jesus said, “Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.” This means that even though the Word of God is received with joy, it does not last. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, some quickly fall away. How easy is it to shrink back and fall away from God out of fear and persecution?
I’ll bet you that some of you would have never thought The United States would be a place where we would someday see Christian principles face persecution.
This was a headline on Fox News Insider on Dec. 6. Not even two months ago:
“Christian Baker at Center of Supreme Court Case: We’ve Faced Death Threats and Harassment.”
If someone told you, back in your childhood, that this would be a news headline, you might think they were crazy.
How easy would it have been for the baker, Jack Philips, to cave into the demands of the same-sex couple? Especially when they’ve threatened lawsuits? Think about it. If the baker had gone ahead and made the cake out of fear of a lawsuit, you and I, and the rest of the world would have never known. It would not have been a problem. It would not have been a national issue. He would not have had to go through what he went through. It would have been so easy, and I’m sure it was probably very tempting, to just say yes. But he stood his ground and firmly stood up for what he believed to be the Godly thing to do.
But as the headline suggests, not only was he dragged all the way to The Supreme Court of the United States, not only has he lost business and employees, not only has he become a household name—which he probably didn’t want—but he has had to deal with harassment and death threats. I’m sure it has challenged his faith. But has this shaken his faith? The real question is, would it shake yours?
Notice in the verse, The soil was shallow. When the sun came out, it scorched and withered quickly because it had no root. What does that mean? That Christianity requires a maturing process. It requires time to take root and allow those roots to go deep. God does not want a shallow relationship. As the Christian baker found out, Christianity will require a lot of us. We will need to have soil that will allow God’s word, and God himself, to become deeply rooted in us.
If the seed is God’s word, then to have God’s word go deep in us, it requires two things: First, devotion to studying God’s word and letting it take root in our lives. Second, it requires a testing of faith so that when the sun really does come out trying to scorch us—like the Christian baker, we will have already seen God’s goodness in our lives. We will have the faith to stand against trials.
A few months ago, I gave a sermon about embracing the trials we face. There has been a lot of trials lately in my own life. But I have been seeing my faith strengthened like never before. I don’t like it one bit. But I have been surprised at how much more faith I have than I did just a couple of years ago—even just a couple of months ago. I can’t explain it. It doesn’t make sense. It would seem that if you are prospering, your faith would be strengthened because you would be seeing God’s blessings all the time. But that’s not true. Going through trials is when your faith is strengthened because you’ve seen God’s protection over your circumstances. That’s an example of the Kingdom mindset.