Mark 4:1-20 1 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.”
13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 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. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the restrictions start to become lessened it can be easy to come to the conclusion that the restrictions are still too great. Or you may believe that the restrictions are being lessened too quickly. There is a wide variety of information that can be found of differing views of this virus that we cannot see. What should be our response? Scripture is clear: Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Even if we don’t agree with the government we are still to be obedient as long as we are not commanded to act outside of what is considered acceptable to God. While we may not understand all of the underlying truths of the pandemic, we have our direction from Scripture in how we are to respond.
Although we do not need to know the actual truth behind the current pandemic, we are expected to know the truth revealed in Scripture. When Jesus walked upon the earth He did not always speak plainly with the crowds. He often spoke in parables- in stories illustrating a main point, thus hiding the truth in plain sight. Why would He do so? He makes it clear in verse 12: to actually prevent people from coming to know Him as the Christ and turn to Him and be forgiven.
This may be surprising to you but as we have been going through the book of Mark we have already seen how most of the people in the crowds who followed Him were following Jesus for the wrong reasons and had not real interesting in turning away from their sins and surrendering their life to the Christ who had come to save them. And so it is very fitting that the first recorded parable in the book of Mark is the Parable of the Sower. This parable describes the seed (representing the Word of God) being sown by God on four different types of ground (representing different types of hearts in people) of which only the good soil produces a harvest (the heart that has humbled himself before God and is willing to repent and believe in Jesus Christ). God will only reveal Himself personally to the person who is willing to humble himself before Him and genuinely recognizes their need of salvation through Jesus Christ and seeks to find Him with all their heart.
Our salvation from God is free as we come to recognize that Jesus died for our sins and there is nothing that we can do to earn our salvation apart from faith in His saving work, but for the unbeliever, the real significance of Jesus death and resurrection remains hidden and must be sought out. The truth of salvation is available to all but it is precious and God will not make it known clearly to everyone. The only people to whom He will make it clearly known and to whom He will reveal Himself personally are to those whom He intends to save! Do you understand the Gospel message or is it still hidden to you? God does not trust everyone with the truth revealed in Scripture. He trusted the disciples and would speak to them about things that He would not speak about openly with the crowds. But even among them He did not speak plainly until after Judas Iscariot left the rest of them at the Last Supper when he went to betray Jesus to death. And then, Jesus spoke more openly with the disciples after His resurrection and ultimately after His ascension up into heaven as the Spirit of Christ was poured into their hearts on the Day of Pentecost. Do you recognize the privilege it is to know God- how special it is to be a child of God? If God has revealed Himself to you and you are a born again Christian you are considered worthy of the secret oracles of God! He has chosen you and He loves you! Is it not worth it to suffer for His Name if He is willing to reveal Himself to you?
But do not think that just because you have heard the Word of God and agree with it on some level that you are automatically a Christian. For many it is like the seed sown upon the path that is trampled. The Word of God goes in one ear and out the other and doesn’t hold any significance to them. They remain deceived by Satan. For others it is like the seed sown on rocky ground. They appear to repent and believe but when persecution comes they run away from God proving that their love to Jesus Christ did not penetrate their heart such that they would be willing to give up everything for Him. For others they love what the world can offer them: temporary pleasure and entertainment. They love this more than God and are like the seed sown among thorns. They may appear to be a Christian but they love this sinful world more and what it offers them.
I believe that during this pandemic God is revealing just how much each of us really love God. Are you seeking Him with all your heart? Is He precious to you and your heart’s desire? Have you sought out the secrets revealed in the Word of God that reveal the unseen God?
Pastor Murray Hack