Praying Through Mark

March 25, 2014
Mark 4: 1-20

Our first instinct is to view everything in the world through our own eyes. This makes a certain degree of sense. My eyes, after all, are the only ones I inherited at birth. But a part of growing into a mature human being is learning to view things from a different perspective. How can we arrive at a place where our first question is not, “So, what does this mean for me?”

It’s true even when it comes to Scripture. We read the Bible from a human perspective, and therefore we try to make sense out of what we read from a human perspective. Convinced that ours is the most important vantage point, we try to interpret the text from that place.

But what if the goal of Scripture is to move us out of the center of the story? Take today’s reading for example. We read Jesus’ parable of the sower and the soil and immediately think that this is a story about us. Jesus describes the different kinds of soils and how each one responds differently to the seed, and our reaction is to try to figure out which kind of soil I represent. Am I the fertile soil, the rocky soil, or the thorny soil? And what do I do to change that about myself? How can I make myself more receptive, more fertile?

That’s not necessarily a bad question to ask. There are disciplines that we can and should develop to make our lives more receptive to the word of God. But I don’t think this parable is primarily about us. Notice that Jesus doesn’t ask or demand that we do anything as a result of this story. That’s because this story is first and foremost about the sower, not the soil. The primary actor in this parable is the farmer who sows the seed. He’s the one driving the plot; the soil is quite passive.

This parable is not first about us; it is about the lavish and even reckless grace of God. Ask yourself this: What kind of farmer would indiscriminately throw something as precious as seed without first measuring the probabilities and the possibilities of a good crop? You and I would be far more measured and careful and strategic. But this farmer can only be described as wasteful.

This parable is a describing a God who will stop at nothing to have us for himself. He is willing to “waste” it all for the sake of drawing us to Him. What kind of God would waste the seed? The same God who will not even spare the Son for our sake.

Gracious God, thank you for the fact that you will stop at nothing to have me in your kingdom. Thank you that even when I prove to be unreceptive and unresponsive, you continue to scatter the seed of your love and mercy into my life. Thank you that your actions on my behalf are not based on what I deserve. Thank you for the gift of eternal life through Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.

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