How Do We Respond?

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24 January 2018

By the time of this Gospel passage, Jesus has become a big deal. Crowds are swarming to listen to him, people are starting to follow him with varying commitment and the scribes have already written him off as one of their enemies.

Jesus is in the midst of making the good news of the coming kingdom of God available to all who hear him. This good news, as we have heard proclaimed throughout Mark’s Gospel, is that the sick will be healed, the sinners will be set free and that the presence of God is coming to dwell with his people.

So why do people respond differently? Why is it, that in the face of the love and goodness that the Gospel brings, do people resist? And, if we examine our hearts, why do we also harbor resistance to the word of God?

Jesus, naturally, has the answers.

In this parable, Jesus uses the imagery of soil to represent the condition of the human heart as it hears the word of God for the first time. From here there are a number of common reactions.

The first kind of soil is immediately resistant to the word of God so much so that it just bounces of those who hear it. In the second soil, the response is initially good while conditions are right but when tough times come and keeping faith in Christ becomes costly, the roots don’t go deep enough to cope with the pressure. In the third kind of soil, the Gospel is well received, but their faith is choked by overwhelming care for their wealth, security and pleasure. It is thus only in the good soil that the word of God can grow into something fruitful and lasting.

This parable does two things for us. Firstly, it’s a comfort for when we feel discouraged by the world’s resistance against Jesus as it explains why people respond as they do. Secondly, it is a stark reminder that we must keep our hearts ready to receive God’s Word. This means that we may require constant tilling which, although sometimes painful, allows us to see where we resist the good news of Christ.

So, I encourage you to reflect on the condition of your soil so that you can better respond to Christ and proclaim the coming Kingdom of God.

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