Bible Study for Dec. 10: Jesus teaches

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A seed either lives or dies, depending on the soil it enters, writes Pastor Rick Statham. GETTY IMAGES

Mark 4:1-9
Richard C. Statham
Senior Pastor, Salem Baptist, McDonough

This past February while leading a group in Israel, we were seated for a time of teaching in the ancient ruins of the synagogue of Capernaum in Galilee when a number of other groups arrived. Realizing that the crowds were in fact a potential distraction, I asked the folks I was leading to follow me to a quiet place down by the Sea of Galilee. I stood with my back to the water as I taught the people.

What could they see over my shoulder? You guessed it! The same back-drop that the people of Jesus’ time saw when He stood, possibly in the same spot, and taught them. What an amazing thought – that I, a mere mortal man, had the privilege of standing in the same spot as Jesus, The Servant of God to declare the eternal truth of God’s Word.

Jesus, the greatest story-teller of all time, moved outside the four walls of the Synagogue and used the stage of creation as His teaching venue. Imagine a crowd so large on a crystal-clear day that as they pressed toward Jesus hoping to hold His hand or touch the hem of His garment, that Jesus steps into a small boat and asks its owner to push off shore a short distance.

With all eyes upon Him, a hush comes over the crowd and Jesus points behind them to a farmer sowing seed a short distance away, raises His voice, and says, “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell ….”

As the farmer moves along sowing his seed, Jesus points and tells of four types of soil upon which that very farmer’s seed fell. Those four types of physical soils were visual pictures of the invisible soil of their human heart. Jesus concludes His parable with these words, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Jesus used parables to connect heavenly truth with the hearts of earthly hearers. William Barclay in his commentary on Mark, said, “A parable is literally something thrown beside something else; that is to say it is a comparison. It is an earthly story with heavenly meaning. Something on earth is compared with something in heaven, that the heavenly truth may be better grasped in light of the earthly illustration.”

Two thousand years ago on the banks of the Sea of Galilee hundreds of people like you and I sat and listened to the Word of God spoken through the voice of “The Word Made Flesh” – Jesus Christ. They heard His voice, but did they hear His heart? They heard His teaching but did they hear His truth? They saw the types of soil upon which the farmer’s seed fell, but did they see the soil of their own soul? Did they make the comparison?

Did they realize that one of those four types of soil of which Jesus spoke represented their heart? Jesus came to share truth with all. That day there were all types of people “hearing” Jesus speak, but did they hear?

I am convinced that a person who “hears” Jesus, heeds what Jesus is teaching. If a person “hears” Jesus speak of salvation, he will be saved. If a person “hears” Jesus teach on love, he will begin to love. If a person “hears” Jesus teach on serving, he will serve. If a person “hears” Jesus teach on following, he will follow.

If a person “hears” Jesus, he will heed Jesus.

Today Jesus speaks to men, women, boys, and girls across the globe through his Word – the Bible. Hebrews 4:12 declares, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

While the vast majority of Americans claim to believe that the Bible is a “holy book” it appears fewer and fewer are willing to allow the Holy Spirit to use God’s Word – the Bible  – to guide and direct their lives. Many people who claim to believe the Bible give no outward evidence that its teachings have impacted their lives.

Many men, women, boys, and girls have read the Bible, but have they “heard” the Bible? If so, they will bear fruit in keeping with its teaching.

In Mark 4:8 Jesus spoke of fertile soil: “Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.” Is the soil of your heart fertile ground? Are you “hearing” Jesus speak through his word? If so, your life will show the fruit of obedience.

Questions to consider:

Do you believe the Bible is the Inerrant, Infallible Word of God?
Do you spend time studying the Word of God?
Do you give evidence of obediently applying the Word of God in your life?
If so, list some examples.
If not, what needs to change?

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