Responsibility in Hearing the Truth: Parable of the Sower

Mark 4:14‑29  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Mark 4:14-2914The sower soweth the word. 15And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended. 18And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. 20And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. 21And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? 22For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. 23If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 24And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. 25For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath. 26And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; 27And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. 28For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. 29But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come. (Mark 4:14‑29)
As this gospel of Mark gives us the character of the Lord, Jesus, as the obedient servant, so likewise do we find this service of Christ coming out in a most remarkable way. In every act, the divine glory of Christ is standing out in virtue of His service, and is manifested by it, and not merely by miracles; although that also is true in its place. But if Jesus takes the form of a servant, there must be the divine power for the accomplishment of the service. If it be the mere healing of the body, (if Jairus's daughter is to be raised,) divine power must be there to do it. He had to make good the word of God spoken in Ex. 15:2626And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee. (Exodus 15:26), "I am the Lord that healeth thee," and that could not be done but by divine power. He is content to be as the servant, but if He is God's servant, there must be this divine power, although with the entire abnegation of self, as He said, " I do always those things that please him." But no act of His service could be accomplished without this divine power. For if sins are to be forgiven, who can forgive sins but God only?" And He forgave their sins; "thy sins are forgiven thee, go in peace." And thus all through His service we clearly see the divine glory brought out.
But then another thing comes out, which is, that when He ascended up on high He transferred the same Spirit and power of service to His disciples, and so to us by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost.
When the Lord was down here, He took the place of sower in connection with others. For He is not now seeking fruit, but producing fruit. He had tome seeking fruit in the Jewish vineyard, and finding none, He had set that Aside for the present, as "the degenerate plant of a strange vine," and had now come to sow that seed which had not before been brought to the earth. He came to produce fruit where there was none. He is not yet come to reap, that will be when He comes again, as the parable expresses it. "As if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring, and grow up, he knoweth not how." "But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come."
There are three things in this chapter: first, the full responsibility of the effect of what we hear. "Take heed what ye hear; with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you." Thus showing that the result of our shearing puts us in the place of testimony. Therefore the word is, "take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you." As if He had said, 'I am looking for whatever you have received to come out again;' and according to the kind of reception the truth has met with in our souls, will there be the fruit produced, " some thirty, some sixty, and some an hundred fold."
Then, secondly, between the time of His sowing and His coming again to reap, while the seed is springing and growing up," he knoweth not how," the Lord is apparently inattentive to the whole thing. During all the toil and exercise of heart accompanying the service, the Lord is apparently unconscious and unmindful. Tares spring up among the wheat, without His taking any notice, or interfering at all, leaving it all to the exercise of faith in the laborers, while He, in one sense, is doing nothing.
Thus, when they were crossing the sea, they get into trouble by reason of a storm that came against them, and while they were toiling against it, He was fast asleep on a pillow, in the hinder part of the ship. They had also trial in another way, that He could suffer them to be in danger, and apparently taking no notice, so "they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?" They were in the same ship with Christ, therefore nothing could be more safe; but they had lost sight of the glory of Christ's person, and thought they were going to perish, thus connecting the danger with themselves, and not with God. But with Christ in the ship, they were as safe in the storm as the calm. They thought it strange that He did not awake. And there it is, as we have just seen.
In the next chapter, where the man Who had the legion cast out of him, prayed Jesus that he might be with Him, "Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee." He desired to be at rest with Jesus, but the Lord said, No, you must go back to be a witness of grace in a world that turned Jesus out.
Then, thirdly, now that we have the apparent absence of the person of Jesus, (but not as to grace-that is always and everywhere present,) we have to walk by faith and not by sight. The Word of God now takes the place of Christ's personal presence, as it is the Word of God that can alone give us the mind of God. Of course the Spirit is needed to apply it; but this it is that makes us responsible for the truth we hear, though of course we can do nothing without grace. A light is not put under a bushel but in a candlestick, that it may give light around. Christ, in saying "Ye are the light of the world" puts us as lights that we may give out the light. Why has He kindled up the light in us, but that we may give out the light? "God hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." And as there is nothing hid that shall not be manifested, God is now looking for the outshining of that out of our hearts which He hath shined in. This is the way that God works: He first puts a word in our hearts, that we may bring it out again. If God has lighted up a light in my soul, it is that it may shine out to all around. And if not, why does it not? It is because there is some hindrance within-some hidden lust in the heart that dims the light, and if I do not search it out at once, and judge it before the Lord that He may put it away, I shall sooner or later fall into some open sin, and then discipline will bring it out. God is saying, "If the light I have lighted up in you is not shining out, I will bring out that which hinders it." "Judge yourselves that ye be not judged." "For there is nothing hidden that shall not be manifested, neither anything kept secret but it should come abroad." But here it is meant in reference to the truth, no doubt.
Supposing the Church has failed, the things by which it has, failed will be brought out to light. All God's counsels of glory He has entrusted to the Church. We are not straitened in God, although we may be straitened in our own bowels through unfaithfulness. "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again:" if you only mete out a scanty measure, a scanty measure will be meted to you in return. For what you have received you are to give out, that you may get more, "For he that hath to him shall be given," &c. &c. When Christ comes again, He comes to reap the harvest of everything He has sown.
Then during this interval between the Lord's sowing and reaping, while " the seed is springing up he knoweth not how," that is to say, while He is apparently absent from us, not interfering in all our trials and conflicts, we have this on which to stay our souls, that we are in the same vessel with Himself; and however much the ship may be tossed about by the storms and waves of the devil's raising, while we have Him in the vessel, we are as safe in the storm as in the calm.
Then again, we have two things brought out here: the grace of God and the light of life. And whether it be ten, two, or one talent, we may have received by way of gift, the reception of the grace of God into our souls will make us out-tellers of the truth as it is in Jesus. And as Jesus, when down here, was the light of the world, so, having lighted up this light of life in our souls, He is looking for us to be light-bearers in the midst of this dark world, where He has left us (like the poor man out of whom the legion was cast) to let our light shine before men, that they may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in heaven.
Then how great is the responsibility as to our hearing. "Take heed what ye hear." "He that hath, to him shall be given." That in hearing of God's grace, we may possess it in the knowledge of what God is; and when hearing of Christ, our souls should realize all of Christ we hear, seize hold of it in all its power and bearing, and have it and be it, even the light as it is in Christ, and that will make manifest everything that is contrary to it. For we only want the light of Christ to, make manifest all that is contrary to it in the world and its course.
"Take hear how ye hear." As far as our flesh is not mortified, we shall not possess the truth; and only so far as our flesh is mortified can we use the truth. To the same extent that the flesh is continually judged and kept down, will our "loins be girt about with truth;" because the flesh cannot receive the truth. But when we really possess it in our souls, it judges ourselves, and all that it finds within first, and then shines out. The result is, that all we have heard, and are hearing, of Christ, should thus be manifested by us to the praise of His glory.