In the gospel of Mark, while Jesus “began again to teach by the sea side,” He spoke a parable about sowing seeds. The parable reads as follows,
"Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." [Mk 4:2-9]
Jesus specifically points out that this parable is the foundation to all parables [Mk 4:13] and explains that the sower is whoever is sharing/giving out God’s word, and the seed is the word. Each scenario is a type of person who is hearing God’s word. Jesus explains that those of the wayside are those with hearts not prepared for growing fruit, like a path, and the word never sinks deeply into their heart, but rather, satan snatches up the word [Mk 4:15]. Those of the stony ground symbolize those who hear God’s word enthusiastically at first but afterward fall away during affliction [Mk 4:16-17]. The seeds sown into thorns represent those hearts which receive God’s word but they never bring fruit to completion because cares of life choke the word [Mk 4:18-19]. The last analogy represents those who have hearts soft, ready to receive and produce fruit, and after hearing, produce fruit with endurance [Mk 4:20].
This is one of the most commonly known parables. It is also recorded in Matthew and Luke. However, in Mark, I believe The Hoy Spirit brings forth something new for us to behold. Notice how after the parable, Jesus speaks of a lampstand, saying,
"Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a lampstand? For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear." [Mk 4:21-22]
The Holy Spirit influences Mark (and Luke) to put this right after the parable of the sower and the seed. I believe the two parables are connected. In the sower/seed, the seed is hidden in the ground, and the fruit, or lack thereof, that is produced is eventually made manifest after the seed receives water and light. In a similar manner, anything hidden in the dark will eventually be made manifest by the light. Luke makes this connection clear; he says “take heed therefore how ye hear…” Luke is making a connection. Since what is sown, or what is hidden in the heart, is eventually made manifest. We must be careful how we hear God’s word! We must be careful to interpret it correctly and apply it. As Paul says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” [2 Tim 2:15]
Paul, in Galatians, warns us about what we sow. He says,
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." [Gal 6:7-8]
The one receiving the word must be careful. But the responsibility doesn’t end there. Mark and Luke both follow up these two parables by quoting a warning from Jesus. From Mark,
"And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath." [Mk 4:24-25]
We also have a responsibility to be sharing (sowing) God’s word. And Jesus says to be careful because with what measure we give out God’s word it shall be done to us again. “For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” If you are being wise with the words God has given you then more will be given. If you just keep it to yourself and never share it, even that little bit is going to be taken away.
Think about a worker in a field. The master gives him a sack of seed, in order that he might go out and sow. But the worker only distributes half then takes off work, or perhaps none at all. This man has a fellow-worker, however, who always empties his entire sack. The master is eventually going to take the seed from the one who doesn’t use it properly and give it to the man who sows it faithfully. It is the same way with us and Jesus’ words, The Bible. We must be diligent to hear the word correctly, but also to share it faithfully.