“Again, Jesus began to teach by the lake. . . . He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said, “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. . . . 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.” (Mark 4:1a, 2-4, 15)
Last week we were introduced to the farmer who goes out to sow his seed. The farmer is God and the seed is His Word. He does all the work in planting and caring for his crops.
But not every seed survives and grows to bear fruit. Not everyone who hears God’s Word becomes an active, faithful Christian. This fact can be challenging, and the disciples were asking Jesus about it, which is why He tells this story.
You probably wonder about this, too. You probably have family members and close friends that you’ve talked to about Jesus, maybe more than once, but they still don’t believe. They haven’t responded to the message. Why is this?
Jesus gives three answers, and we’ll look at the first one this week. Sometimes Satan comes down and snatches the Word of God away like a hungry bird pecking at seeds.
I don’t have many problems with birds in my garden. Most of the seeds I plant are planted too deep in the ground for the birds to get them. Rabbits, however, are a different story. Our neighborhood is infested with rabbits. For the first two years I had a vegetable garden, we had problems with rabbits getting in. I had a fence up, but they kept finding ways to get in the garden. Finally, this spring I added a new section of fence and they haven’t made it into the garden, at least not yet.
Just like those rabbits wanted to get at the vegetables, so Satan wants to take the word of God out of your heart. One reason why some people don’t believe is simply that they don’t listen to God’s Word. Their hearts are hard and they may hear God’s Word, but they never truly listen to it because Satan convinces them that it’s not important, that it’s not for them, that it doesn’t apply to them. And before the word has a chance to sink in and grow, it’s gone.
The good news is that God doesn’t just sow once. Even if the seed doesn’t take root this season, there’s always next season. And God sows even in the most unusual places, where you don’t expect anything to grow. Sometimes, even despite Satan’s best efforts, the seed manages to take hold and sprout and grow. Have you ever seen plants growing up through the cracks in sidewalks and driveways? That gives us hope that not all the seed that falls along the path will perish.
Loving Father, you sow your seed far and wide. Keep Satan from taking the word from us, that under your care it may grow and flourish among us. Through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.