Monday Minutes With Pastor Chris McCool (May 10, 2021): The Key to the Kingdom, Part 1

In the fourth chapter of Mark, Jesus begins to speak to the multitudes and to the disciples in parables. By definition, a parable is a placing of one thing beside another – a comparison, or illustration, in other words. Most often, He used parables taken from agriculture – something the people would have understood in His day!

The first parable He told them is the one we know as “The Parable of the Sower and the Seed” (Mark 4:3-9). Jesus said of this parable, “Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?” (Mark 4:13). In other words, if you don’t get this parable, how are you going to get the rest of them? Apparently, this one was so basic and essential to their comprehension of the Kingdom of God that it is the key to all the others. So let’s break it down here!

Mark 4:3-10: Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.

So what is Jesus talking about here? Remember, Jesus says this parable is the key to understanding the Kingdom of God. Thus, it must be important for us to decipher it, and to get it right!

Thankfully, we don’t have to wonder what is under consideration here because Jesus Himself interprets it for us, beginning in verse 14: “The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. 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.

Thus, according to Jesus, this parable is about the preaching of the gospel, and how it will be received by those who hear it. Each category of ground is illustrative of a category of hearers of the word of God, and the reaction they have to the gospel. A right understanding of this will help us identify these hearers and be able to minister to them properly.

Now, at this point we should understand that many people in the denominational world misunderstand and misapply this parable. They teach that there is only one category of ground that represents children of God, and all three other categories represent those who are NOT children of God. In their view, the gospel seed is being spread widely abroad, and only those who receive it and bring forth fruit are actually children of God. They believe this is teaching us how to take someone who is not born again, and get them born again through the preaching of the gospel.

Nothing could be farther from the truth! This parable is NOT talking about unregenerated people; rather, it is talking about BORN AGAIN children of God who hear the gospel preached, and react to it in different ways because of the circumstances of life that they are in.

In other words, ALL categories of ground in this parable are children of God! Notice that even on the “way side,” Jesus tells His disciples that the word was “sown in their hearts” (Mk 4:14). An unregenerated person cannot have the word of God “sown in their heart”, because they only have the old “stony heart” of the natural man until they are born again. Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 2:14 that a “natural man” (i.e., one who has only been born in nature, and not been born again by the Spirit) is unable to receive anything of the Spirit of God. Wouldn’t you agree with me that the “word of God” is a “thing of the Spirit of God”? Thus, even the “way side hearer” must be a born again child of God!

Brothers and Sisters, don’t miss the important truth: Jesus here is teaching us about four different categories of children of God, and showing us how to recognize each category. He gives a description of each category of hearer, and helps us to understand what each category of hearer needs. He is teaching us what reactions we can expect from different categories of His children, and how best to minister to them as we preach.

Next time, we will dissect each category of ground/hearer, and hopefully learn the key to the Kingdom of God.

Blessings to you all!

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor