my reflections on the story of the scattered seed

If you know me well, you know that from time to time, I like to ponder the theologies of arminianism, calvinism, open theism, and the like.  I know many people do this.  It can really cause one’s mind to spin.  I’ve learned I must limit myself in studying these theologies and always try to keep my motives in check.  It’s so easy to want to be right, to want all of the answers, to want all of these things that are about me, rather than about growing in intimacy with God.  So… I generally avoid these topics, because I actually have no answers (imagine that).  And enough other people have plenty to say on the topics.  But if there is anything I can share about how I’ve discovered more of God’s heart along the way, that’s the kind of thing I’d like to discuss.

(that was a side tangent)

Anyways, lately I’ve been reading the gospel of Mark in the message version of the Bible. Yesterday when I was reading in Mark 4, there were some things that stood out to me.  It’s when Jesus is telling the story of the scattered seed.  Some of the seed is immediately eaten by birds, some has no roots and quickly withers, some grows and is strangled by weeds, while some “flourish, producing a harvest exceeding his wildest dreams (Mark 4:8).”

Jesus explains this parable in greater detail to his disciples.  The seed represents the word, which is Jesus.  For some, “Satan snatches away what has been planted in them (4:15).”  For others who initially gladly receive the word, “there is such shallow soil of character that when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it (4:17). ”  Then there are those “who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it (4:18-19).”  And finally… “But the seed planted in the good earth represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams (4:20).”

As I read this, I found myself sweetly surprised by what Jesus says is the causes for the seeds not flourishing.  He mentions nothing about God playing a part in the people having the seed snatched from them or their lack of continuing in faith.

Also, in verse 14 it says, “The farmer plants the Word,” and I found myself pondering is who exactly is the “farmer?”

I think I’ve always been taught that the church, or the people of God are the sowers (farmers), called to sow seeds (the message of Christ) to the world.  But this is what I found myself wondering as I read this time:

What if Jesus is referring to God as the farmer?  What if God plants the seed (Word) absolutely everywhere?  What if God truly chooses to have nothing to do with how the seed is received, besides providing everyone the ability to do just that, receive it?  For me, that would speak of the incredible grace, love, and mercy of my Father.  

Do any of you have any thoughts on this?  I’m not trying to make big claims.  Regardless, God used this passage to draw me to Him.  But I would enjoy hearing what others think.

*verses taken from The Message version of the bible

p.s. I also happen to love some of the wordage used in this uniquely written version of the bible.  To think that Jesus produces life in us that is “beyond our wildest dreams.”  YES!



4 thoughts on “my reflections on the story of the scattered seed”

  1. Some interesting thoughts. In the King James and other versions it says,

    Mark 4:20
    And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

    In the Bible, numbers mean things. How much fruit is produced in the harvest really has nothing to do with the numbers are being used (i.e. talking about this verse as ‘percentage’ or how many people are ‘saved’ by the salvation of one is out of context for this passage) . So, let’s think about it for a minute. How old was Abraham when Isaac was born? How old was Isaac when Jacob was born? And how old was Joseph when he stood before Pharaoh? So the conclusion of this parable has to do with the fathers. Each requires its own in-depth study.

    From my perspective, the sower is both God and his servants. God is the source and can sow his own seed. Yet he also entrusts his servants with them to sow. Paul speaks somewhat on this regard in 1 Cor 3:6-10. You are right that God has sown the seen everywhere. That goes back to Joseph (perhaps the reason he is listed first?) and his son Ephraim and that whole story with the prophesies surrounding them. Those prophesies started with Abraham and Isaac, however, when Abraham went down into Egypt.

    Solomon received all his wisdom from nature (don’t remember where it says that right off). So to understand this parable a little more and some of your thoughts, we will turn to nature. In the natural, what is required to produce life? A father and a mother, a seed and an egg. Now, if the seed is the word of God, what is the egg? In short, it is faith.

    The Hebrew word for faith is emunah (אמונה) and appears 530 times in the OT and 244 in the NT. Hebrew words have gender. Emunah is a famine noun. Paul tells us in Rom 12:3 that God has given to every person a measure of faith. In other words, everybody has an egg and has the potential to ‘be saved’. Hence why Paul says,

    Rom 10:13-16
    13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
    14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
    15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
    16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias (Isaiah) saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

    You have the right concept. Hope hinting at where else it appears in scripture makes you smile :).

    1. Joshua, could someone argue that in Romans 12:3, since Paul is speaking to the church, that a mesaure of faith has only been given to those who God has predestined to be saved, and that not everybody has the potential?

  2. Wow…I can’t wait to read this again, because it’s awesome! Thank you so much Joshua for taking the time to share. Seriously. God has given you a gift and calling to study the scriptures in such a way. It really can bless and enhance the faith of others. This is awesome stuff here and helps me a lot.

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