Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop. Mark 4:20
In 1879, people watching William Beal would likely think he was loony. They’d see the professor of botany filling twenty bottles with various seeds, then burying them in deep soil. What they didn’t know was that Beal was conducting a seed viability experiment that would span centuries. Every twenty years a bottle would be dug up to plant its seeds and see which seeds would germinate.
Jesus talked a lot about seed planting, often likening the sowing of seed to the spreading of “the word” (Mark 4:15). He taught that some seeds are snatched by Satan, others have no foundation and don’t take root, and yet others are hampered by the life around them and are choked out (vv. 15–19). As we spread the good news, it’s not up to us which seeds will survive. Our job is simply to sow the gospel—to tell others about Jesus: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (16:15 esv).
In 2021, another of Beal’s bottles was dug up. The seeds were planted by researchers and some sprouted, having survived more than 142 years. As God works through us and we share our faith with others, we never know if the word we share will take root or when. But we’re to be encouraged that our sowing of the good news might, even after many years, be received by someone who will “accept it, and produce a crop” (4:20).
Consider an example of how you shared the good news with someone. How did that person respond? How are you praying for that person today?
Dear God, please give me courage to share Jesus with friends and colleagues.
The New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (the Synoptic Gospels) record from thirty-eight to forty-six distinct parables of Jesus. The majority appear in Luke, but many are repeated in the other gospels. Why did Jesus often speak in parables? He explains to His disciples: “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables: ‘Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand’ ” (Matthew 13:11–13). He said this to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy (see Isaiah 6:9–10). The truths of the Bible can only be understood by the Spirit. The apostle Paul later echoed this truth in 1 Corinthians 2:7–14.