Lenten Reflection - Mark 4:1-20 by Amanda Bindel
"4 Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. 2 He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: 3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” 9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” 10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’” 13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.” Mark 4:1-20
"There was someone who did such amazing things and said such wonderful things, that people followed him."
Those words begin the parable lessons we study in the Godly Play classroom. Sometimes people asked this man questions and he answered them with stories. In today's parable, Jesus told them the story of the sower not in response to a question, though. In the Godly Play room, the pieces for the stories of the parables are kept in gold boxes, a metaphor for the parables themselves. Gold is valuable, and these stories are valuable. The boxes look like a gift, and Jesus's words are a gift to us. And they boxes have lids on them. Sometimes, it can be hard to get a lid off to get to what's inside a box, just as it can be hard to understand the parables sometimes. With the parable of the sower, though, Jesus goes on to explain just what he means. The seed is the word of God. Sometimes, the word is snatched away as soon as it's sown. Sometimes, it starts to grow but doesn't take root. Other times, worries and distractions of life choke it out. But sometimes, it grows and produces a crop a hundred times what was sown. As I take my daily dose of Zyrtec to battle the spread of cedar pollen filling our air this time of year, I'm reminded of the power of the life cycle of plants and trees and the persistence and grace of God's word. Even for ground that wasn't ready or able to receive in the planting seasons, the hearty crop can reseed from its bounty.
"Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear!"