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8 May, 2016

Introduction:

Which soil do you want to be like?

Mark 4:1-20

Friends, Jesus is an incredible person. Jesus is wise & loving, gentle & powerful, forgiving & kind. And Jesus
is a great teacher too. Jesus is a teacher who desires to help everyone to learn the truth about life &
Jesus wants to help everyone to learn to live with God in their lives everyday, & forever. And really, I think
Jesus is the wisest person in the universe. I mean, Jesus spoke the truth about God, & about the human
heart, & about the future & about life & things like anger & love & goodness. Really, Jesus spoke about
everything that is valuable & important in human life. And that is why so many people-even today- want
to listen to him & learn from him & live their normal, everyday lives with him by their side. And one of the
most beautiful things about Jesus was that he loved & taught all kinds of people- the highly educated,
young children, the poor, & even religious people- & he taught them by using stories. Indeed, about 1/3
of Jesus words that we read in the Bible are in fact stories - stories, that we call Parables. And friends,
Jesus parables are not only unforgettable & colourful & compelling, but they are also like a puzzle that
you have to think about very deeply. And if you do think deeply about them they can pierce your soul &
they can shape your life - as Gods Spirit takes these stories & teaches us about God & about life, &
about ourselves.
And so friends, let me ask you: did you do your homework this week? Did you read the story of the 4 soils
& did you think about it. I mean, did you really pay attention? Did you talk to God about it? Because if
you did, then Jesus would have asked you a very important question. In fact, Jesus would have asked
you 2 very important questions. The first question is this: which soil are you like? And the second question
is this: Which soil do you want to be? Friends, lets have a look at this great parable together.
Well, in this story, Jesus tells us that there is a farmer & there is his seed. And Jesus says the seed is in fact
the word of God- it is the message about the kingdom of God-which Jesus came to spread throughout
the world. And so, Jesus is the farmer who is spreading his seed-his message about the free availability of
the kingdom of God. And Jesus tells us that there are 4 x different types of soil which represent 4 x
different types of people. Look at Person No.1. Jesus said:
The seeds that fell along the road are like the people who hear the message but Satan immediately
comes and snatches it away from them.
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Friends, Jesus said that some of the seed fell on the road. Now, 2000 years ago, both farmers & animals
would walk along narrow roads (or paths) that ran along the fields. And because these paths were used
so often they became very hard & compacted. They became so hard, that no seed could ever get into
the soil & grow-it was just too hard. And so what Jesus is trying to teach us here, is that there are people
in this world whose hearts are hard towards God. And the word of God, this precious seed that Jesus is
always spreading- this beautiful message of forgiveness & of the wonderful opportunity of living a new
life, with Jesus in your life, each day- this precious message, cannot get into the hearts of many people.
And I think there are many reasons why peoples hearts become hard toward God. For example, some
people have been deeply hurt by others so many times that they are bitter & cynical. They are bitter &
angry toward life & they are bitter & angry toward God. And these people cannot see & perhaps dont
want to see the goodness of God which is all around them & which is in Jesus. And yet friends, I think that
the biggest reason for this hardness of heart is that people just dont want God. You see, many people
say they dont believe in God because they desperately dont want there to be a God- because they
want to be in control of their own lives not God! And so, for these people, the message of Jesus cannot
get in & grow in their hearts & their lives. And of course, Satan, who is Gods enemy No.1, is perfectly
happy with this situation, isnt he? Satan just comes along & picks up the seed & takes it away, & Gods
word never grows in them. Friends, this is person No.1-the person with a hard heart towards God. Well,
lets look at the second type of person. look at v16
The seeds that fell on rocky ground are like the people who gladly hear the message with great
enthusiasm & accept it straight away. 17 But there is such shallow soil of character that when life gets hard or
the message gets them in trouble, they give up.

16

Friends, the good news is that these people have soft hearts toward God, dont they? And so they
receive the message about Jesus & his kingdom very easily & happily. You know, these people actually
step into & they begin to live this new life with Jesus. And yet, there is a problem here, isn't there?
Because Jesus says that these people are like shallow, rocky soil. In other words, their new lives with Jesus
are shallow & superficial & weak - there is no depth in their new friendship with Jesus. Now friends, what
does that mean? their friendship with Jesus is shallow? Well, look at these words very carefully. Why does

Jesus say these people give up following him? What happens? Answer/ life gets hard, or the message of
Jesus gets them into trouble. But let me ask you another question. Why do you think these people gladly
received the message of Jesus with great enthusiasm in the first place? Answer/ because they thought
that following Jesus would stop all their troubles & they thought that life would become free from hard
things. You see, these people had wrong expectations of Jesus & when their expectations were not metwhen they didnt get what they thought they would get- they quickly give up on Jesus. Friends, Jesus
never promised anyone an easy & comfortable life. No!...Jesus never promised to remove hard things or
suffering. Instead, Jesus promised that he will always be with us through the hard times & suffering & pain.
Indeed, Jesus promises to use the hardship & the suffering that comes into our lives to do what nothing
else can do to mould & build our character & to change our hearts so we are more like Jesus more
loving, kinder, gentler, more patient, more forgiving, more prayerful just better people. But friends, if our
expectations are wrong, then when pressure comes from the outside world, when life gets hard or if other
people laugh at us for becoming followers of Jesus - & they will. Then you will give up following Jesus, you
will stop coming to church, & Jesus will no longer be a real, living part of your life, each day. Friends, that
is the second type of person - they have a shallow & weak relationship with Jesus.
Well, look at the 3rd type of person like? look at v18.
18 The seeds that fell among the weeds are also people who hear the message and accept it gladly. 19 But
soon they start worrying about the needs of this life. They are fooled by the desire to get rich and to have all
kinds of other things. So the message gets choked out, and they never produce anything.

Friends, again, these people have hearts that are soft to God & they are open to receiving Jesus into
their lives. And they too, step into & they begin to live this new life with Jesus. And this time, the quality of
their daily life with Jesus is not shallow & weak. But still there is a problem, isn't there? And Jesus describes
this problem as having weeds in your life. And really, what I think Jesus is talking about here are the
desires & worry which grow up in our lives & choke our life with God. Really, Jesus is describing the
Christian person who desires too many things & who desires the wrong things. And so their hearts & their
minds are distracted. And Jesus gives us a few examples here to help us understand what he is trying to
teach us, doesn't he? Jesus says these people desire wealth & comfort. You know, they desire a bigger
house, a better suburb to live in, they want all the latest electronic things, they demand financial security
in their retirement, & they want a 5 star education for their children which includes tutoring, entrance
into a selective high school, the best university course & of course the best paid jobs. And these people
worry about all this stuff: about what they will eat & what they will wear & what they will drink & so they
neglect the most important thing in their lives-their own, personal friendship with Jesus. You see, this time
the pressure comes not from other people & the outside world, but from within themselves. From within
their own hearts, come powerful desires for other things that chokes their daily life with God. And so these
people get stuck, they cannot grow as Christians - their character does not change there is no harvest
for God. Friends, if you have been a follower of Jesus for a long time, then this is the person you do not
want to be. And really, the only way to stop being choked by our own wrong desires & our worries that
slowly grow up like weeds in our lives - is to get rid of them. Its to dig them up - roots & all. And if you think
about it, thats the key. You see, to defeat our wrong desires by replacing them with good desires, & to
stop worrying about things - we need to first understand our desires & our worries. Really, we need to
think straight about out lives. And the best way to do this is to look at our desires & worries & to consider
them clearly. And friends, we can begin to do this by asking ourselves questions. For example: if we have
a worry that is stopping us from experiencing joy & peace in our lives with Jesus, then stop, sit down, &
look at it. And ask yourself: where does this worry come from? what am I scared of? & what does Jesus
say about this thing I am worrying about? Have I talked to God about it? Or perhaps if there is a desire
that is controlling our thoughts & feelings: then stop, sit down, & look at it. And ask yourself where does
this desire come from? Will it really make me happy if I get what I so desperately want right now? Will it
really give me peace & joy? And for how long? You see friends, in order to defeat wrong desires &
worries that choke our life with God, we must first understand them, & then take them to God. And if we
do that, then we will become like the good soil. Look at verse at verse 20.
The seeds that fell on good soil are the people who hear the message, welcome it & produce a crop: 30
or 60 or even a 100 times as much as was planted.

20

Friends, what is the difference between the person who is like the good soil & all the other people? Well,
one difference is that Gods Spirit produces a harvest in their lives - like love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, gentleness, faithfulness & self control. But the other difference is the way these people hear the

message. You see, these people hear the message & they welcome the message. In other words, these
people realise that the good news of Jesus is the best news they will ever get. These people understand
that following Jesus is the greatest opportunity they will ever be given in life & they know that their lives
are now secure in Jesus. And because of that their every worry can be defeated & their every wrong
desire can be controlled & resisted & replaced by godly desires.
Conclusion:

Friends, because Jesus is so good He wants what is best for us. And Jesus deeply longs for us to be like
good, deep, soft soil - that welcomes Jesus & that good life he offers to all of us. And that is why this
parable, this story of the 4 x soils, is the most important parable Jesus ever told. Because this story helps us
to make a decision - the most important decision in our lives: what type of person do you want to
be?...hard hearted?, shallow?, distracted?, or full of Gods goodness? Lets pray