Jesus unlocks the secret of success for the believer in the parable of the sower with a singular command: “listen.”
This imperative, both simple and yet complex, is at the heart of the story, framing both its introduction and conclusion. If we look back to verse 3, we see that Jesus first commands the crowd to “listen” before beginning his parable. Then again in verse 9, he says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” So what does Jesus mean by this and how does this command relate to the success within the Kingdom of God? That is the focus of today’s post.
We will spend our time today looking at verses 8 and 20 (for a recap of part 1, click here). For though the parable seems rather dismal by the time we’ve read through verses 1 through 7, it does transition to a high note in verse 8, showing how some seeds do fall “into good soil and produce grain.” The ingredients for this success are found in having what each of the other grounds did not: good, fertile soil, roots that tap into a water supply, and no competition with thorns. Only then is such a ground able to not only survive, but in fact grow up, increase and yield “thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold” (verse 8).
The true key to this ground’s success, however, begins far before having the ingredients we just listed above. Though all of those elements are necessary, one precedes them all, and that is at the heart at what it means to be “good soil” (verse 8).
In Mark 4:20 Jesus explains that the Christians who are “good soil” are the “one who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit.”
In saying this, He relates the agricultural process of planting a seed, rooting the seed and growing the seed to a Christian chronologically listening to God’s Word, accepting (and implicitly applying) God’s Word, and, finally, bearing fruit as a result of God’s Word. But it all begins with listening.
So let us ask you this today: How attuned are you to God’s Word?
To even take one step further back: Do you listen to God’s Word? Are you opening your Bible daily, constantly even, to hear what God has to say to you? Is this the desire of your heart? Does it guide the way you think, the way you act, the way you live each and every day? How thirsty are you to hear and listen to the Word of God?
Because we cannot even begin to think about bearing kingdom-fruit (i.e., bearing fruit that serves and advances the Kingdom of God), unless we are developing ourselves into “good soil” as it were, full enriched and nourished by the Word of God. To put it simply, the people who dwell in the Kingdom of God are first and foremost people who love God’s Word, who love to listen to it, to read it, to meditate on it, and then secondly who love to apply it to their life, daily and constantly. Are you this type of person?