Parable Of The Soils – Mark 4:1-20

By John Bellingham on July 12, 2015
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Parable of the Soils

Mark 4:1-20


– The ‘Parable of the Soils’ helps us understand why different people can hear the same gospel message and yet respond to it in very different ways

I.  The Seed and the Sower (vv. 3, 14)

1)    Jesus was the Original ‘Sower’

  1. Indiscriminate sowing of the seed (ie. God’s Word – vv. 14-15)
  2. Parable follows the established pattern of ancient Agriculture – seed was sown before the land was plowed
  3. No farmer expected 100% germination – most of the seed sown would be lost

2)    Every Christian is a ‘Sower’

  1. Jesus has given us His authority to proclaim the ‘good news’ and to make disciples  – Matthew 28:18-20
  2. We sow seed by sharing the good news of God’s Kingdom to the ends of the earth
    • Preaching in the Local Church
    • Evangelism/ Mission in the World
  3. “Be Patient!  Do your work.  Sow the seed.  Leave the rest to God.  The harvest is sure.”

 – William Barclay

Application:  Are you serving as a ‘farmer’ for Jesus Christ? (cf. 2 Timothy 2:6)  How can you sow the seed of God’s Word this week, and in what particular ‘field’ is God calling you to scatter seed?

II.  The Soils (vv. 4-9, 15-20)

1)    Each Soil represents a Type of Heart

  1. A Hardened Heart
    • Satan wants to interfere with the progress of God’s Word  (2 Corinthians 4:2-4)
    • This hardened soil represents the natural state of the human heart – a result of sin
  2. A Shallow Heart
    • Shallow layer of soil on top of limestone rock is common in Galilee
    • Plants spring up and appear healthy but die because they cannot put down roots\
    • This shallow soil represents a professing Christian who does not persevere in faith.
  3. A Crowded Heart
    • Plants that spring up among thorns can’t thrive and eventually get choked out
    • This thorny soil represents a person who allows idols (ie. money, pleasure, work etc.) to crowd out the true worship of God
  4. A Fruitful Heart
    • Plants that land on good soil thrive and eventually produce a harvest
    • A tenfold harvest was outstanding in ancient Israel.  The thirty, sixty or hundredfold harvest Jesus describes in this parable is unimaginably large!
    • To bear fruit is the one infallible mark of a right-hearted hearer!


– Which of these four soils do you identify with?

– What are some of the ‘thorns’ in your life that try to crowd out your relationship with Jesus Christ?

– We cannot change our hearts through self-effort but the Divine Gardener can:  “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”  Ezekiel 36:26




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