And Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
21 And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? 22 For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
– Mark 4:13-25
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them. Perhaps you recognize these words from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books. That one ring is nearly Frodo Baggins’ undoing. It takes hold of him and casts a spell of greed and suspicion. In the end it is destroyed.
Jesus and his message of the rule and reign of God (“Kingdom of Heaven” in most translations of Matthew’s Gospel) is the key that unlocks all mysteries and aligns all truths of God, faith, Scripture, life, and salvation. If you want to understand a difficult passage of Scripture, look at it through the lens of Jesus’ reign and rule over all things.
Jesus’ rule is gracious; he does not force himself on people. The sower sows the seed and some receive it with joy, believe and live abundantly fruitful lives to his glory. Others reject it, and are – sadly – eternally lost. But his desire is to sow the seed of faith into our hearts and to rule there by his grace. His desire is to save. His desire is to bless. He takes no pleasure in the death of the sinner. He came to give life. Faith itself to live under Christ in his kingdom is a gift.
Jesus rule is a rule of faith. Those who receive the word and believe it live by faith. They are the ones who accept the word sown into their hearts and live under Christ and serve him.
Jesus explains the parable of the sower so that we who believe also understand why not everyone lives for Christ. We who want to see Jesus’ rule and reign extended must contend with a disappointment that is only a pale reflection of God’s disappointment over those who do not accept his give, who do not allow God’s word to grow in their hearts.
We are left therefore with only one true hope: Jesus’ love, mercy, redemption, and grace form the basis for our place in his kingdom. He rules hearts by grace through faith. We are saved from a fruitless life by grace through faith. We who have heard this word must keep listening!