The Garden of Jesus - Mark 4:1-20


The sermon mentioned a few caricatures of Jesus that our nation, culture, or news cycles present to us.  All of these are distortions of The Original Jesus.  Do any of these versions of Jesus resonate with you or do you have any experience with these or similar distortions?

  • Jesus himself calls himself a “farmer” - The one who is sowing the gospel among all different types of people. 
  • Jesus, the greatest of all preachers, is the sower of the seed that is sometimes not received. 
  • We, like Jesus, are the continuation of Jesus' work and our role is to continue to sow seed. 
  • There are 4 ways that the gospel is received 
    • The hard heart.  The heart of the listener is so hard that it doesn’t receive the word of Jesus (In the Gospel of Mark, this represents the religious leaders). 
    • The shallow heart. This hearer, while initially interested, rejects the gospel because of tribulation or persecution. 
    • The distracted heart. The temptation of riches or desires of the word prevents the gospel from taking root in the heart of the hearer. These are those distracted with “the anxieties of the age.”
    • The fruitful heart.  They embrace the gospel and bear fruit. 
  • Jesus is telling his followers that as they sow the seed themselves, they will encounter all types of hearts as they do the same work as Jesus did. 
  • We can have confidence that some will reject but also confident that some will receive and bear fruit. 

Mark 4:1-20

4 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that
“‘they may indeed see but not perceive,
    and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.’”
13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.[a] 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 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.”

  1. When we go out into the world, we can be confident that many will reject the good news of the gospel. We can also be confident that some will receive the gospel as good news and will bear fruit. 
  2. Is there anyone from your past who constantly seemed to reject the good news of the Gospel?  If you reflect on that person, do you suspect this was because of a hard, shallow, or distracted heart?  
  3. What is your story with this parable?  Was there a point in your life, before you were a Christian when you related to one of these soils?  Which is these soils points back to your “Old Self”?

While it is good to reflect on where we came from, the point of this text is not for us to do a self-assessment of which of the soils we currently are.  The point is that if we are listening and understanding this parable, we are the good soil already.  This is an encouragement for us who are the good soil that we will follow the pattern of Jesus and will also sow seed onto all these different types of soil.
  1. Every single one of us has either (1) a story of what happened when we were the good soil and received the gospel or (2) have always received the gospel because of someone else (maybe a parent), who was at one point the good soil. What were the circumstances or events at the moment when you were first the good soil? 
  2. Is there anyone currently in your life who you are praying might become the good soil and receive the gospel?  
    1. Where are they now? Which of the other types of soil 
    2. Do you sense in any way that God is working to prepare the soil of their life?
  3. What fruit has grown in your own life since receiving and cultivating the gospel seed?

  1. As you go out into the world and sow gospel seed of your own. What encouragement does this parable offer you?  
  2. Ask God to prepare the soil and pray for the people mentioned above.  

Father God, we thank you for sowing gospel seed into our lives and preparing us to be able to receive it.  We pray also for those who are still hardened towards the gospel, and that you soften the hearts of those who do not know you so that they may receive the gospel and bear fruit. Amen.