Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twenty verses of the fourth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the second account of a parable which Jesus spoke unto the multitudes who gathered before and around Him. As you begin reading the fourth chapter you will find Mark presenting his readers and audience with the first parable which Jesus spoke unto those who had gathered before Him to hear and listen to Him speak. The more I sit and consider the parables which Jesus spoke unto the crowds, the multitudes, and even unto His disciples the more I come face to face with the tremendous reality that the parables were a method of teaching which He used—not merely to speak about the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to separate those who merely came unto Him as spectators and those who came unto Him as true, genuine and authentic seekers. SPECTATOR OR SEEKER! Perhaps one of the single greatest realities concerning the life and ministry of Jesus Christ is that the four gospels are replete with example after example of those who gathered themselves unto Jesus—not merely to seek Him with genuine sincerity and authentic faith, but rather with a curiosity having heard about all the miracles which He had performed among those who had come unto Him with their various needs. Before even getting into this parable which Jesus spoke concerning the seed, the sower and the four soils, it is imperative that we journey back to the first chapter of this particular gospel. If you turn and direct your attention back to the first chapter of this New Testament gospel you will find Jesus entering into Capernaum with His disciples and entering the synagogue on the sabbath day to teach those who had gathered themselves on that particular day. When describing this particular event Mark writes and records how those who sat, heard and listened to Jesus teaching in the synagogue were astonished at His doctrine, for He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes who regularly taught in the synagogues. If we are to truly understand that which is found in the fourth chapter of this New Testament gospel, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we focus our attention on the fact that many were astonished at His doctrine, for He taught as one who had authority and not as the scribes and teachers of the Law. When we think about and consider the parables which Jesus spoke unto the crowds and multitudes we must remember and recognize that even when He taught and spoke in parables He did so with genuine and authentic authority—one that came not from Himself alone, but from the Holy Spirit within and upon Him, as well as his Father who was in heaven.
When I come to the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark I am absolutely and incredibly struck by the fact that this is the second time this particular parable was recorded within the New Testament gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. If you turn and direct your attention back to the New Testament gospel which the apostle Matthew wrote concerning the life and ministry of Jesus you will find that his is the first account of this parable which Jesus spoke unto the crowds and multitudes which gathered before Him. What’s even more interesting about how Mark writes and recounts Jesus speaking forth the parable concerning the seed, the sower and the four soils is when you consider that he presented it the same exact way the apostle Matthew did in the gospel he wrote concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. Immediately preceding Matthew’s account of Jesus beginning to speak in parables we find the account of Jesus speaking unto the people and His mother and brethren standing without desiring to speak unto Him. When those before Jesus noticed that His mother and brethren were desirous of speaking to Him they made Him aware of their desire and request. What is actually quite interesting about this is that when Jesus heard that His mother and His brethren desired to speak with Him, He presented a question unto that one who spoke to Him concerning the identity of His mother and His brethren. In fact, Jesus plainly and emphatically asked this one who spoke unto Him who His mother was, and who His brethren were/ What Jesus did next is absolutely astonishing and remarkable, for Jesus stretches forth His hand toward His disciples and declares of them—His mother and His brethren. What He speaks and declares next is even more remarkable, for Jesus declares that whosoever would do the will of His Father which is in heaven, the same is His brother, and sister, and mother. Before we get into the parable of the seed, the sower and the four soils it’s important that we have a discussion concerning those who are the true disciples and those who are the true brethren of Jesus the Christ, for Jesus makes it very clear that those who do the will of His Father who is in heaven are His brother, his sister, and His mother. In all reality, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which Jesus spoke in His famous Sermon on the Mount, which is recorded for us in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of the New Testament gospel of Matthew. If you begin reading with and from the twenty-first verse of the seventh chapter you will find incredibly powerful language concerning those who declare and profess unto Jesus, saying, “Lord, Lord.” Consider if you will the words which Jesus speaks at the conclusion of this Sermon on the Mount—not only concerning those who come to Him professing “Lord, Lord,” but also concerning those who hear the sayings of His and do them:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity…”
“…Therefore, whosoever hearth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken Him unto a wise man, which built His house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that hearth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:21-27).
Within these two portions of the Sermon on the Mount we are not only confronted with the tremendous need to do the will of the Father which is in heaven, but also doing the words of Jesus the Christ. DOING THE WILL OF THE FATHER AND OBEYING THE WORDS OF THE SON! I am completely and utterly convinced that one of the greatest needs within the life of any Christian is that need to both do the will of the Father which is in heaven, as well as obey the words and sayings of Jesus the Christ. Permit me to ask you who are reading the words contained within this writing whether or not you are doing the will of the Father which is in heaven, and whether or not you are obeying the words which Jesus the Christ spoke. What’s more, is that within these two particular portions of Scripture—not only are we confronted with doing the will of the Father in heaven and doing the words of Jesus the Christ, but we are also confronted with a pseudo or false sense of doing that which we think pleases and delights the Father in heaven who sits upon the throne, and the Son who sits at the right hand of the Father. In all reality, I would dare say that the will of the Father and the words which Jesus spoke are intrinsically linked and connected, for if we look at and examine the words which Jesus spoke we see in clear and plain sight the full expression of the divine will of the Father. There are countless men and women who spend a considerable amount of time in prayer and devotion seeking the Lord concerning what His will is for their lives, and yet I am convinced that if we truly want to know and understand what the will of the Father is for our lives we need look not further than the words which Jesus Christ spoke. In fact, I would dare say that not only were the actions of Jesus the Christ the perfect expression and manifestation of the divine will of the Father, but the words which He spoke are a powerful example and teaching concerning the will of the Father which is in heaven, and how to obey and walk in it. Are you one who desires to understand and do the will of the Father in heaven? I am convinced that you need devote yourself to a considerable amount of time reading and studying the words which Jesus Christ spoke unto His disciples, as well as to the crowds and the multitudes which gathered themselves unto Him. I can’t help but read the words which are found and contained within the final eight to ten verses of the seventh chapter and come face to face with the fact that there is a strong and powerful link between the will of the Father which is in heaven and the words which Jesus Christ spoke. Furthermore, I am convinced that the words which Jesus Christ spoke—the words which we have in red letters in Scripture are a blueprint and manual if you will concerning the divine will of the Father which is in heaven.
QUIT TRYING TO SEPARATE THE WILL OF THE FATHER FROM THE WORDS OF THE SON! As I sit here today I can’t help but think of how many men and women would dare try and do the will of the Father and try and separate the will of the Father from the words of the Son. There is not a doubt in my mind that the words which the Son spoke unto His disciples, and the words which the Son spoke unto the crowds and multitudes which gathered before and unto Him are a wonderful and powerful expression and manifestation of the divine will of the Father. There would be those who think and believe they can fulfill and complete the will of the Father without and apart from the words which Jesus the Christ spoke, and I am convinced that such an attempt is completely and utterly futile. We dare not, we cannot, we must not make any attempt to separate the words which Jesus the Christ spoke from the divine will of the Father, for anything and everything Jesus did while walking upon the earth was the complete and utter fulfillment of the will of the Father which is in heaven. In addition to this, I would dare say that the words which Jesus spoke—the amount of time He spent speaking and teaching those who gathered themselves unto Him—was intended to teach them the will of the Father and instruct them how to walk in and fulfill the will of the Father which is in heaven within their own lives. In fact, if you turn your attention to the New Testament gospel of John—specifically chapters thirteen, fourteen, fifteen and sixteen—you will find specific examples on how to walk in and do the will of the Father which is in heaven. I continue to hold to the tremendous and overwhelming belief that if we are to truly understand the divine will of the Father we need to spend time reading and studying the words which Jesus the Christ spoke. With that being said, there are specific references within the New Testament gospel of John which teach, instruct and reveal unto us how to walk in and do the will of the Father—namely by hearing and doing the words which Jesus the Christ spoke. Consider if you will certain instructions Jesus gave unto His disciples when He was with them in the upper room celebrating the Passover Meal:
“Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say will; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. Fi ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. I speak not of you all: I know whom I have Hodson: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am He. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me” (John 13:13-20).
“If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it Seth him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for he dwellers with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfort less: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world Seth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepers them, he it is that liveth me: and he that liveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love Him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:15-21).
“if a man love me, He will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that liveth me not keepers not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (John 14:23-24).
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that bearers not truth he take the away: and every branch that bearers fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in men. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” (John 15:1-10).
“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in your, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another” (John 15:11-17).
If you read these words which Jesus spoke unto His disciples you will not only discover that true friendship is expressed and manifested by doing and keeping the words which He commanded and instructed, but also abiding in His words and allowing His words to abide in us. With these words Jesus brings us face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that our friendship with Jesus the Christ is demonstrated and manifested by and through our obedience to the words which He spoke. With that being said, we must understand that by hearing, doing and keeping the words which He spoke—not only is that the truest expression and demonstration of friendship with Jesus Himself, but it is also the ultimate expression of doing the will of the Father. I would like to earnestly and eagerly contend for the fact that if we want to do the will of the Father who is in heaven, we need focus our attention, our effort and our energy in doing the words which Jesus the Christ spoke. We cannot, we dare not, and must not make any attempt to separate the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto His disciples and unto the crowds and multitudes, for to do so would be to eliminate and erase the ultimate expression and demonstration of the divine will of the Father within our lives and upon the earth. Oh that we would begin to recognize the words which Jesus the Christ spoke as a blueprint and expression of the divine will of the Father which is in heaven, for His words are revelation—not only on how to fulfill the Law which the Lord gave through Moses, but also how to do the will of the Father which is in heaven. The words which Jesus spoke were not and are not suggestions which we can think about and consider, but are the means of life for which we are to walk within and upon the earth. The words which Jesus spoke unto His disciples, as well as unto the crowds and multitudes are the means for us to truly encounter and understand the divine will of the Father, and what it looks like to truly know and do His will. Would it surprise you to know that the will of God is not as confusing as we have made it out to be? Would it surprise you and completely blow your mind to know that we oftentimes make the will of God more complicated an difficult than it actually is and needs to be? I am completely and utterly convinced that we make the will of God more complicated than it needs to be, and more often than not we need only look to the words which Jesus Christ and do and keep them. I would dare say that if we devoted ourselves to reading, knowing and understanding the words which Jesus Christ spoke we will not only begin walking in the divine will of the Father, but we would actually be doing and keeping His will among men within and upon the earth.
I am sitting here this afternoon engaging in this writing and putting words down on paper and as I am sitting here I can’t help but think how often we over complicate the will of the Father which is in heaven, and how difficult we tend to make it. We spend considerable amounts of time in prayer—whether it be in our own personal and private time of devotion, or whether in a corporate setting in the house of God trying to discern and decipher the will of the Father. There are countless sermons which have been preached, countless teachings which have been given, and countless books which have been written concerning knowing and understanding the will of the Father, and yet I can’t help but wonder how many of us take the time to stop and consider that the life of Jesus is the perfect and ultimate expression of the will of the Father. What’s more, is that I am convinced that it is possible to spend our days simply doing that which Jesus spoke and commanded and find ourselves walking in and doing the divine will of the Father which is in heaven. Imagine what would happen if we spent all our time, effort and energy focusing on simply doing that which Jesus the Christ commanded us through the divine word of God which was inspired by the Holy Spirit. I firmly believe with all my heart that if we spend our time seeking to do the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto his disciples and the multitudes which gathered before and around Him—not only will we begin to fulfill the law which the Lord gave unto Moses while He was atop the mountain in the wilderness, but we would also fulfill and do the divine will of the Father. Jesus declared that only those who do the will of His Father who was in heaven will enter into the kingdom. What makes that particular passage so interesting and unique is the tremendous emphasis Jesus places on doing the will of the Father, for He spoke of many coming to Him in that day saying “Lord, Lord,” and speaking of all that they had done in his name, and yet He will declare unto them “Depart from me ye worker of iniquity, I never knew you.” Within this passage Jesus places a tremendous amount of emphasis on the will of the Father which is heaven, and sets in stark contrast to that which we say and think we are doing in His name, and yet are merely doing for our own sakes and for our own fame and glory. Did you know there is a vast and fundamental difference between that which we claim and that which we profess to be doing in the name of Jesus the Christ and actually doing the will of the Father which is in heaven. It’s worth noting and pointing out that even though men and women would speak of what they did in Jesus’ name, His ultimate concern and His ultimate priority was the will of His Father which was in heaven. Oh how incredibly challenging and convicting it is to think that we can make attempts to do many wonderful things in the name of Jesus the Christ, and yet be completely oblivious to the fact that we are not doing the will of the Father. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that Jesus seems to contrast and set against each other doing many wonderful things in His name and actually doing the will of the Father which is in heaven.
When you come to the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark you will find His recounting the parable which Jesus spoke concerning the sower who went out to sow. What is so unique about this particular parable is that it doesn’t say where this sower went out and sowed the seed—whether it was in their own field, or whether it was simply going out to sow seed wherever the sower would. Within the parable we find the same sower, and we find the same seed, yet the difference comes not in the seed or in the one sowing the seed, but in the soil into which the seed was in fact sown. If we are to truly understand this parable which Jesus the Christ spoke we must understand that there was nothing different about the seed which was sown, for the sower didn’t sow one type of seed in one place, and a different type of seed in another place. The seed which the sower sowed was the same type of seed, and it was sown in four different, four distinct and four unique types of soil. Scripture is unclear whether or not the sower was aware of where he was sowing the seed, and whether or not they knew that some of the seed was sown by the wayside, some on stony ground, some among thorns, and some on good ground. When Jesus spoke this parable He spoke concerning one sower and one seed, and yet four different types of soil into which the seed was sown. In fact, when Jesus proceeds to respond to the disciples when they asked for the meaning of the parable, Jesus declared that the seed which the sower sowed was the word of God. The word of God was sown within and upon the earth, and within the hearts and minds of men, and yet as such not all the soil into which the seed was sown is the same. Would it surprise you to note and consider that the four soils which are represented here in this particular ulnar passage represent four different types and four groups of people who are present within our churches today. We would be incredibly naïve to think and consider for one moment that there aren’t those present within and present among our churches today who aren’t like the wayside, some who are like the stony ground, some who are like the thorny ground, and some which are like the good ground. I can’t help but feel compelled to tell you that each time the minister and preacher gets up to preach and speak the word of God on a Sunday morning, the seed of the word of God is sown on these various types of soil which are present within the hearts of men and women. The same seed is sown each and every week, and each and every time the word of God is preached and spoken, and yet that seed isn’t received the same way in every heart and every mind.
As I sit here and consider the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, I can’t help but be absolutely and completely captivated with and by the fact that we cannot separate the word of God and the will of God, for the two are in fact completely synonymous and intrinsically linked to each other. If we are going to have a discussion about the word of God as is found in this particular parable which Jesus spoke, we must recognize and understand that the word of God is not the divine revelation of the character and nature of the living God, but it is also the expression of the will of the Father which is in heaven. Would it surprise you to say that hearing and doing the word of God is the manifestation and expression of doing the divine will of the Father which is in heaven? Would it surprise you to note that the only way we can know the will of God is by hearing, knowing and doing the word of God which is sown within our hearts. If there is one thing this parable presents unto us who are reading it, it’s that there are certain and specific dangers to the word of God when it is sown into our hearts and into our minds. The seed which is the word of God is sown just the same into my heart as it is and has been your heart, and yet with that being said there are distinct dangers which are present against that word. Within this parable Jesus spoke of and mentioned the danger of Satan coming immediately to steal the word which was sown into the hearts of men. This is essentially the first danger facing the sowing of the word of God, for Satan has always and will always seek to steal away and destroy the seed when it is first sown into earth. This reality is seen in the early years of Jesus the Christ after He was born unto Mary and Joseph, for within the first few years of His life Satan sought to destroy Him through the murderous actions of Herod who slaughtered all the infant males under the age of two. We must recognize and understand that Satan has always and will seek to steal away and destroy those things within our lives while they are in their infant stages, and early on in their manifestation within our lives, and this is especially true when it comes to presence of the word of God within our hearts and minds. If Satan can steal away the word of God within our hearts and minds he can steal away and rob our ability to know and to walk in the divine will of the Father which is in heaven. If Satan is unsuccessful in stealing away the word when it is first sown, He will use persecution and affliction to snuff out and destroy the word from within our lives—particularly and especially when such persecution and affliction comes as a direct result of the word. Within this particular passage I can’t help but see an initial progression of Satan’s desire to steal away and rob the word of God from within our hearts and minds, for what begins with his attempt to steal away and rob us of the word of God will ultimately culminate in using the deceitful ness of riches, the cares of the world, and the lusts of things to choke the word. Oh, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand the tactics and strategies of the enemy and adversary concerning the sowing of the word of God within our hearts and lives, for failing to do so would be to allow ourselves to be exposed and vulnerable to such attacks. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the dangers of offense arising in response to affliction and persecution, as well as the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the lusts of others things, for if the word of God is going to remain alive and active within our hearts and lives we must diligently strive to guard ourselves from such assaults and attacks against the word which has been sown within our hearts and minds.