Read Mark 4:1-20
Chapter 4 is Mark’s presentation of the parables of Jesus. Today’s reading contains the Parable of the Sower and our Lord’s explanation of it to His disciples. However, prior to the explanation Mark tells us that Jesus said, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables…” That statement is followed by the harsh word from Isaiah 6:9-10 that the outsiders may “never perceive, and…never understand…otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!” How can this be? Didn’t Jesus come that all might be forgiven and saved?
The problem that most of us have with the Word is that we want to intellectually understand it. It is the curse of our Western mindset. The real purpose, though, of the parables is to facilitate apprehension of the Truth by the Spirit. Thy Word is Truth. Jesus is the Truth. To apprehend the Truth we must come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The capacity to receive the Truth depends on our readiness surrender to His will. As an example, in John’s Gospel, when Philip tells Nathaniel that they have found the Messiah, Nathaniel cannot comprehend this because it does not line up intellectually with what he has been taught. Philip does not argue with him, rather he simply says, “Come and see.” The purpose of the parables, as Mark presents it here, is to pique the interest of the hearer that they might pursue Jesus, that they might come and see, and ultimately accept Him as Lord.
Thus, in today’s reading and in tomorrow’s, the parables presented temporarily conceal truths on an intellectual plane. But the Lord is seeking to touch the hearer’s heart that they may see themselves in these common stories and be convicted in spirit. For it is only when we are truly convicted that we will “turn and be forgiven.”