We are joining Jesus today for an intimate explanation of His teaching methods and His parables. The crowd is gone and it is just His close followers, including His disciples, who will get to sit at His feet and learn the deeper meaning to His stories. Times like these were few and far between. I’m sure each of the regular attendees cherished these quiet times together with Jesus.
Once the crowd is gone, the first thing Mark reports Jesus being asked is, “Why the parables?” Jesus answer was simple. So the masses wouldn’t really understand what was being taught. The masses had a role to play in God’s plan. They, as a society, had to reject Jesus. If they truly understood all He was saying, they would have turned to God for forgiveness of their sins. It is not that Jesus wants to damn them all to hell, but that He wants them to wait until the right time for their understanding and turning.
Jesus then proceeds to talk about and explain the parable to His disciples. We actually talked a great deal about the meaning of the parable when we addressed it in Matthew’s gospel. I want to point you back to that discussion. Here is the link to The Explanation of the Parable of the Sower.
I want to look at Jesus’ statement before He launched into the explanation, instead or revisiting the soil types. Jesus asked His close followers, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” (verse 13). I’m not sure if Jesus’ statement implied that this parable was a key parable to understanding all others, or that it was so simple that they shouldn’t have had a need for an explanation. Let’s take a look at the two options I just posed. I’m sure there are options He might have been alluding to, but I want to cover these two that I came up with.
Option one was that this parable held the key to understanding the rest of Jesus’ parables. In three of Jesus’ parables He uses the analogy of a seed. These parables are: The Sower and the Seed, which we are studying now, The Wheat and the Tares, and The Mustard Seed. All three concern Kingdom growth. In the first two we have the seed bringing forth new children for God’s Kingdom; the fruit from the seed. The third parable relates to how those children came to be in the first place; through faith. New life in Jesus through birth into God’s Kingdom is key to God’s plan. Jesus came to provide a way for us to become sons of God. That is the FIRST step in our relationship with Jesus. The KEY that opens the door for the rest of what God has for us. Is this then the key to understanding the parables too? With life in Jesus comes understanding? Maybe.
The second option was that this parable was so simple anyone could understand it. I don’t know about you and your first time reading this parable, but I didn’t get it before reading the explanation. Even with Jesus’ explanation I didn’t understand the true meaning right away. I understood it as far as farming or planting went, because it makes perfect sense on that level. But without Jesus’ explanation, I wouldn’t have understood the application to my own heart. I have also noticed that the more times I read it, the more I find in it. It is a simple story but its applications are fathoms deep.
So I’m VERY grateful that Jesus took the time to explain this parable, and many others, to His disciples. I need the explanations too. I have two advantages that they didn’t have though when it comes to understanding. The first is that I have the bible, or the answer key; the full account of Jesus’ walk here on Earth. Is every deed and every day recorded here? Not even close! But what I do have is what the Holy Spirit knew was essential for our lives with Jesus. The second thing I have is the Holy Spirit living in me. Jesus’ disciples didn’t receive the Holy Spirit until after He ascended to His Father. So when Jesus was teaching His parables they didn’t have the Holy Spirit interpreting them for them.
Father God, thank You that Jesus didn’t leave His disciples in the dark about the meanings of the stories He shared. He explained them so that we, today, could even understand them. Thank You for prompting men, through Your Holy Spirit, to write the accounts of Jesus’ life. We would have no direction without Your word.
Thank You that You keep teaching us deeper things of You the longer we look. If I only wanted surface knowledge, You have provided that. But You don’t want us to stop there. You want us to dig in deep and find the gems hidden in plain sight. When I feel I have plumbed the depths of Jesus’ parables, if I take time to ask, You show me still more in them that I hadn’t seen before. I’m praying that when we get to Luke’s account of this story, You will see fit to show me something else to share. You did just that with Mark’s retelling, so I’ll just wait and see what You brings out next time.
I love seeing the old stories in new ways. Thank You Holy Spirit for imparting the deeper things of God to me. Not because I’m special or because I’m some great scholar, but simply because I asked and was willing to listen. Forgive me for ever thinking I’ve exhausted the information in one of Jesus’ stories. You, somehow, keep bringing new things out. Thank You for keeping me searching AND finding.