Last Thursday I posted the introduction to this series “Getting Your Hands Dirty.” Today we are actually going to start digging into Mark 4:1-20.
As I try to dig my hands deeper into the soils that Jesus is talking about, blueletterbible.com is becoming my tool of choice. I highly suggest it using it anytime you are trying to dig deep into a passage because it offers a lot of commentary and explanation of what the original Greek words mean.
Today we are going to be going to start by clarifying a perplexing verse and then move into the first type of soil: the path.
We established on Thursday that Jesus considers this parable to be an important truth because he prefaces and closes it with commands to listen. The confusing thing is that in verse 12 He seems to contradict Himself and honestly be a little harsh:
“they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.”
That verse really confused me when I first read through this chapter, so I want to address it for you. Look at the paraphrase in the Message, in today’s manner of speaking it makes so much more sense:
“You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom—you know how it works. But to those who can’t see it yet, everything comes in stories, creating readiness, nudging them toward receptive insight. These are people—Whose eyes are open but don’t see a thing, Whose ears are open but don’t understand a word, Who avoid making an about-face and getting forgiven.”
So today, as we walk on the path, ask yourself, are you avoiding making an about face? Are you only allowing yourself to go surface level, or are you really trying to tune your ear to what Jesus has to say?
The Seed on the Path:
vs. 4 “And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.”
Vs. 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.”
We all can envision a path in our minds. Paths are beaten down, they are hard, they are clear of plant life. Something that I have learned about from Will this year is Compaction. Compaction is when the soil is compacted and pressed down into a hard clay, like how snow repeatedly driven on turns to thick ice. In a similar way, soil structure breaks down when it is repeatedly walked on. This breakdown makes the soil hard and thick, like a path. This doesn’t allow space for seeds to sprout roots and grow. Farmers don’t plant in rows jut to make the garden look pretty, they do it to fight compaction of the soil. They do it so they aren’t walking all over where their plants are growing. They do it to provide the best soil for their crops to grow in.
In Jesus’ day paths were how people traveled. The soil of the path would have been suffering from a major case of compaction from all the foot traffic. This compaction kept the seed from getting into the soil, sprouting, and growing.
When I think about the path I think about travel, being on the go, running errands. Paths are busy places. Paths are there so that you can get from point A to point B quickly with little effort. I don’t know what your routine is like, but mine involves two 20+ minute drives per day. And a couple of hour and a half long drives on the weekends. That’s a significant chunk of time spent on the “path.” The path is a place of busyness, moving from one thing to the next.
In our culture we have a tendency to fill our plates full, then fill in every gap and crevice with little things till there is absolutely no way to stretch ourselves thinner without snapping. How can we possibly notice that God is showering us with His word, love, and guidance.
Satan tries to use busyness and routine to harden my heart and deafen my ears towards the things of God. Either I zone out during my commute because it is so routine, or I get impatient and flustered because I am distracted running through all the things that I need to do. In those moments, no matter the holiness of my to do list or destination, I am still shut off to God. I allow the busyness to consistently run over me and compact my life, leaving no room for God to grow seeds He is scattering in my life.
You may not always feel like God is scattering seed in your life. Maybe you feel like you are being weighed down, compacted, but I guarantee you that He is always scattering seeds. In verse 15 Jesus says that the Word of God is sown into our lives, but sometimes we are in a busy place, feeling walked all over or a hard and hectic place that does not allow the Word to be absorbed and buried in our hearts. This allows Satan to come and steal what God is trying to do in and through us.
Maybe the thing that is compacting you in your life is not always being on the go. Maybe it’s corralling and caring for your kiddos, Maybe it’s your job, maybe it’s homework from professors who are trying to kill you. Whatever the pressure is – You are not alone. God is there. He is sowing into your life. Maybe it is through a friend or family member, a sermon, the radio station you have on in the car, or in the glory of nature.
So ask yourself, how can you put air back into the soil of your life to allow room for God’s seeds to dig in, sprout and grow? How can you alleviate the compaction in your life?
I know for me, changing my mindset in the car and learning to stop replaying my to do list in my mind is a key way to not miss the seeds God is sowing in my life