Are you like me? Once I have something figured out an idea I don't want to do anything to it? I like putting it in a 'cubbie hole' and leaving it there till I need it.
So if you are like me, then you may struggle with this parable in Mark 4 like I am. I MUST take this 'figured out' parable out of the 'cubbie hole', think it through AGAIN, and then RE-CONSIDER my conclusions.
This code talk about soil quality has been familiar since childhood. I have spend most of my studies and sermons on either Matthew's or Luke's account. But studying Mark's chapter 4 version has forced at least 3 changes in my thinking about the first of the soils.
The first change deals with where the seed goes. I read several versions like NKJV, KJV, NASB, NIV, Youngs Literal Translation., The Message, Easy To Read V., and others. The translations (or paraphrases) differed as to where the seed went. So, I used a Greek interlinear bible with translation abilities. It has a neat word ("PARA") meaning beside or near. The seed fell NEAR / BESIDE THE ROAD.
For years I considered these folks to not have the ability or opportunity to be responsive to God's word. They were the highway, so hard packed, like pavement or concrete, that God's powerful message COULD NOT GET IN.
But Mark records this as being the 'shoulder of the highway', a notable difference. Some highway shoulders, in Arkansas at least, have grass flourishing through the asphalt. These people are reachable. God's word is getting in. It says "when they hear..." Rom. 10:17 says this is the beginning point for faith. I am rethinking their possibilities.
The second point being reconsidered is based on "akouswsin", to hear. This word, sounding much like "accoustics", includes the hearing of sound. Generally, it means more. It includes "perceiving", "considering what is being / has been heard, and "comprehending" a thought.
These meanings carry heavyweight implications. This implies a PERCEIVING the word (seed) as being from God. COMPREHENSION is present. They CONSIDER what is being heard. God' word is at work.
I had previously thought these folk COULD NOT be reached because the message was removed too quickly. I did not know what God was going to do with these people on judgment day. Now I know. They PERCEIVED, COMPREHENDED, and CONSIDERED God' message of love, grace, and consequences, and chose to nothing. Doing nothing equals deciding against. They will receive God flaming vengence.
The third item to be re-considered is based on the first and second, namely why Satan is able to remove the word so quickly. Certainly Satan wants it gone as quickly as possible, before it can have its full effect. Satan can not remove God's word by force. But Satan can and will remove the word from anyone not positively choosing God's way.
Since these 'shoulder-of-the-road' souls have considered the message and selected against acceptance of God, Satan moves quickly before they can do any re-considering. He "carries away" anything without roots.
Are these souls worth my effort at evangelizing? Yes, since I can't easily tell how 'hard packed' a heart is. God has made me, a servant, into a seed sower (with your help in this blog). And now that I know they are capable of dealing with God's message on an intellectual basis, it is my responsibility to make sure they have a chance.
It not be terrible if on the judgment day on of these "hard packed" people looked at me and said, "You never mentioned Him to me."