June 1, 2005

Non-Static Soil (Mark 4)

Category: Bible - NT - Mark :: Permalink

In his lectures on the theology of Mark’s Gospel, Jeff Meyers points out that the parable of the soils does not indicate that a person can be only one sort of soil his whole life long. Rather, you can be one sort of soil at one time and another at another.

The evidence is found in the text of Mark’s Gospel. As I mentioned in my sermon notes a couple of days ago, Peter has been receiving Jesus’ word but when Jesus begins to talk about His suffering and death Peter suddenly acts as if he’s the path. The word doesn’t sink in. Satan snatches it away. In fact, Jesus even refers to Peter as “Satan,” perhaps because Peter, like Satan, is trying to snatch the seed away from others as well.

Or consider what happens with all the disciples in the end. Though they all received Jesus’ word gladly in many ways, when persecution arose — when Jesus was arrested and they all feared for their lives — they all abandoned Jesus. Jesus knew they would. In Mark 14:27, He said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of me this night.” That word “stumble” is the same word Jesus uses when He explains the parable in Mark 4: those who are rocky soil “stumble” when persecution arises (4:17). That’s what all the disciples did, which implies that at this point all the disciples were behaving as rocky soil.

But Jesus then restored His disciples (though not Judas, whose growth was choked out by the thorns in his life, 4:18-19) so that they bore fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred. And every believer can be confident that, even though he falls in various ways and responds sometimes as a wrong sort of soil, God will make him and preserve him as good soil so that he bears a rich crop for God.

But because the parable is not describing four unchangeable situations, four static soils, but rather describes four responses of which we, as believers, are still capable, it ought to warn all of us to receive the word properly, to keep responding in faith, to hang on to the word, to be good soil so that we do bear fruit.

Posted by John Barach @ 12:21 pm | Discuss (0)

Leave a Reply