Scripture Reading — Mark 4:1-3
He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! . . .” — Mark 4:2-3
Our lives are filled with distractions, and often we like it that way. Many of us also like background or white noise that can help to distract us from distractions! With all the noise that fills our environments, it can be hard to hear what we need to hear, and difficult to learn what we should focus on.
Jesus was a brilliant storyteller. He told stories from the life and culture of the time, and he filled them with meanings that were at once simple and profound. But unless you were able to truly listen, they were just stories.
Apart from God’s giving us the insight to understand, the result will be that Jesus’ parables are just stories, his miracles are just amazing, his crucifixion is just tragedy, and his resurrection is just whatever you make of it.
As a leader calls people to attention, Jesus, with the authority of the Son of God, urges us to listen in a world that seeks to distract us from the truth. He calls us to see through the obscuring fog of life, to filter out the noise in order to hear the voice of the good shepherd as he teaches us about ourselves and our lives.
Dear Lord, help us to listen to your voice and to hear what we need to know and to believe about ourselves and about you. May we look forward to hearing you speak to us. Amen.
Sowing the Seed
“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed . . .” — Mark 4:3-4
When someone begins to tell you a story and it sounds unusual, it draws you in as you try to figure out why the story is being told this way. For example, it wouldn’t make any sense for a farmer to be so careless as to scatter his valuable seed just anywhere. But that’s what this farmer is doing, and that seems to be wasteful and foolish.
It turns out that Jesus’ parable begins by inviting us to see something about this farmer. From an agricultural point of view, the sower is being careless, but Jesus is not giving farming advice. He is illustrating how the Word of God is spread and how it is received.
In Jesus’ parable the farmer does not prejudge the soil. The spreading of the Word does not make presumptions about the human heart, for who knows what the conditions are until the seed has been sown there? The sower simply sows, and he does not calculate the risks and results ahead of time. He just sows.
We often cannot help thinking in terms of responsible management, efficiency, investment risks, and rates of return. As sinners, though, we would be a very poor risk for Jesus to take—but, thanks be to God, the Word comes our way.
What will you do with the gift of God’s Word coming to you today?
Lord, it’s risky to spread the good news of your grace to me, but without your Word I would be helpless. May my life receive your Word and grow from it. Amen.