Skip to main content

Jesus comes out from his Father to sow the word (Mark 4:1-20)

This morning I kicked off a summer series in parables at with church. It was a great meeting - great prophetic words calling us to come and listen, and meet with Jesus which I felt really set us up for The Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:1-20. The Father says of his son (9:7) that we should listen to him, so that's what we sought to do. Mark 4 is all talking and about talking, listening and hearing.

DOWNLOAD MP3: Listen to Jesus (35mins)

I'm not sure how good a preach it was, it has been a real wrestle to prepare it mostly because it gets to the inner workings of parables and the doctrine of election, which are neither easy on the mind or on the heart. The passage forces you to speak of Jesus the judge whilst seeking to convey the lavish grace of Jesus coming from his Father to sow the life giving word. It's about 18 verses of the former and only two of the latter, so it should feel hard work, but I'm not sure I gave enough air to the "good" - did I have people believing in the word to judge and blown away that Jesus has given them life through the word? I'm not sure. The feedback has been positive but I found it one of the hardest to have preached.

All that said, it'd be easy to dodge or overlook it - but the only way to go is to ask Jesus to give you ears to hear and listen in. Mark 4v12 we're forced to face up to Jesus saying he uses parables to stop some people from repenting - and he tells of how many will turn away, seemingly reasonably, because of the world, the flesh and the devil. Outsiders hear and go no-where. The loss is devastating and weighty.
We asked the question: Why does Jesus use parables.
Answer 1: to tell us where we stand with him
Answer 2: to call us to know him.
At the same time the shocking punchline is that there will be a vast harvest which almost looks like exaggeration. But it comes from the mouth of the one who told all creation to be fruitful and multiply - so it's not all that strange. I think it partly equates to "the word spread and the number of disciples increase" but perhaps more to the relational fruitfulness that Jesus would have with us as he comes to us by his word. Insiders are given, by the great giver, the secret of the kingdom, namely the king.
God comes to us clothed in the word of gospel as Jesus speaks to us. Here is the beloved son of the Father. Here is the bridegroom. His Father loves him and sends him out in love, and he loves us by laying his life down to bring us to himself. 
Here is the God of Isaiah 6; the one who sat on the throne burning in holiness. Isaiah saw him on his throne. Isaiah didn’t block his ears. He didn’t walk away. He didn’t look for something more attractive. No, he fell down on his face and wept for his unclean lips – his unclean heart. The one on the throne came out and atoned for his sin, gave him clean lips, a new heart. The beloved son came and laid down his life for him.
Faced with Jesus, he knew he had a hard heart – and he cried out to Jesus to save him.
He didn’t try to fix himself – all eyes on Jesus. Jesus who, this morning, walks off the pages of Mark’s gospel into our lives. Jesus comes from his Father to give himself to us – speaking his fruitful gospel word to those who will trust him.
It seems to me that here in Mark 4, the one who is on the throne in Isaiah 6 and comissioned Isaiah to go and harden hearts, comes out from his throne, sowing the seed that is the fruitful word of the gospel, and through it he judges those with hard hearts but also invites any who will 'listen' to hear, accept and bear fruit. He invites me to listen and to keep on listening - not to gather knowledge but to actually know him, relationally. Those who walk away don't misunderstand, they mislove; they're not stupid, they have hard hearts. And we all start out dead hearted - but Jesus comes out looking for us. The one who spoke the world into being, comes out to engage our hearts - to win us to himself - to give us new hearts, to give him himself to us.


  1. here's what i like about this - you dont lose the wood for the trees. thanks for refusing to shrink from trinity. look forward to being with you this week

  2. Sam Storms preached the same passage on Sunday too: The many soils of the human soul (ht: Dan Roach)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

"Big eyes full of wonder"

Books. Fiction. Libraries. Second only to churches as are the best gateways in your community to ultimate reality and new possibilities.

Our local library has just re-opened after refurbishment, and I love that our boys have spent several mornings there during the summer holidays, discovering some wonderful new stories.

I realised a few months back that I wasn't reading enough fiction. My work necessitates reading a lot of non-fiction, a mix of historical and contemporary thinking, biblical studies and theology. But fiction is the cinderella. Easily overlooked, and yet able to awaken my imagination and show me the way things are meant to be.

So I've picked up a few more lately - bought and borrowed. Not every book attempted flies, and that's ok. These have been winners though.

Ink. This is Alice Broadway's debut novel. It's young adult fiction and tells the story of Leora who lives in a world where the events of your life are tattooed on your skin. Nothing gets hid…

Uniquely Matthew

Reading gospel accounts in parallel is sometimes used to blur the differences in perspective between the evangelists, seeking to harmonise the texts and find a definitive historical account of what happened. No such thing exists because every account is biased and limited. You simply can't record everything. You have to hold a vantage point. And that's not a problem.

Matthew, Mark and Luke take a very different vantage point to John who was of course an eyewitness himself of the events. Comparing the text of Matthew, Mark and Luke across the death and resurrection of Jesus yields two steps.

Firstly, the common ground. All three accounts tell of...
Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross…. · Jesus labelled as King of the Jews…. · Criminals crucified with Jesus… · Darkness in the daytime… · Jesus' loud final cry… The women who witnessed Jesus death, and Jesus' burial… · The tomb lent to Jesus by Joseph of Arimithea… · The women who went to the tomb on the morning of the…

Songs we're singing in Church

Christians are a singing people, it's part of what we do when we gather.

Our church meets morning an evening on a Sunday - normally using 5 songs in each service. So, over the year that's about 520 song-slots available. The report from the database system we use ( tells us that in the past year we've sung about 150 different songs.

Our current most used song has been sung 11 times in the last year, just under once a month. Our top 10 are used about every 6 weeks. By #30 we're talking about songs used every two months. The tail is long and includes loads of classic hymns from across the centuries, plus other songs from the past 40 years, that we have used around once a term or less.

1. Rejoice - Dustin Kensrue

2. Come Praise & Glorify - Bob Kauflin

3. Man of Sorrows - Hillsong

4. Cornerstone - Hillsong

Rejoice was a song I didn't previously know, along with a couple of others that have quickly become firm favourites for me: Chri…