We continue our Breakthrough series in the fourth chapter of Mark’s gospel. We looked at the parable of the sower and the seed and focused on three levels of attach on the Word of God.
Rewind to Mark 4:1-9, 14-20. The first attack on the word is satanic. “Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them” (4:15). This lets us know that there is satanic activity against the preaching of the Word. The Word on the shelf is not a threat. But the Word preached into human ears is a threat, because it has the power to change sinners into saints. It exposes satan’s lies and cover-up campaign. So, he snatches the word away before it has time to take root.
The second attack comes in the form of Shallowness, Trouble, and Persecution. “Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away” (4:16-17).
Jesus had a lot of shallow follower who were there for what they could get from him. (See John 6:25-26.) Many Christians are there for prosperity but not for persecution. And what gets to most Christians are small slights. Minor irritations. Small things.
It is through people that trouble and persecution come which have a way of revealing our shallowness in prayer and the word. You can’t breakthrough to the next level with God if you stay on the shallow level with God’s Word.
Here’s a fact check: The Word gets abused. Jesus is the Word made flesh. He is the Word of God lived out in tangible reality. And what is the reception of that word? Misunderstanding – “The darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:5). Rejection – “His own did not receive him.” (John 1:11) They preferred darkness to light. They beat the word, spat on the Word, mocked the Word, falsely accused the Word, betrayed the Word, abandoned the Word, crucified the Word.
Rewind to Matt. 24:9. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” God didn’t promise you or me a smooth ride for next-level living the Word, but He does promise all who do a crown of life.
The third level of attack is busyness. “Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful” (4:18-19). As other things crowd in the word gets crowded out.
Notice that out of four efforts to sow the Word of God, 3/4ths of the efforts fail. Only 1/4th of the seeds are actually sown. It seems unfair. Why should God’s word get the short end of things? But there’s something strange and wonderful about the Word of God. No matter the odds against it, the Word never returns to God void, but it accomplishes the purpose for which He sent it. Watch what happens to the 1/4th that survives.
The Word Multiplies. “Others hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times what was sown.” (4:20)
At 1/4th good soil, the seed on this soil would have to yield 4 times more to cover the 3/4th plus itself (making the original amount of seed). But the word of life has exponential power—resurrection power—and it yields not 4 times as much but 30, 60 and even 100 times more than the initial output. That’s 30- 3,000%, 60 times – 6,000%, and 100 times – 10,000% more! And that’s what the devil doesn’t count on.
When Jesus, the abused seed and word of God, died on the cross, the kingdom of heaven appeared weak and forsaken and alone. (See John 12:24.) But the devil forgot that if the Seed died it would produce exponentially. From 12, 120, 500, 3,000, and now followers like the sand on the seashore. And today that seed lives in you, waiting to multiply again. That’s the power of the Word.
But note that there is something all of these soils have in common. They all heard the word. Compare verses 15, 16, 18, 20. The first three soils “hear” but…it failed to take hold. You’ll never breakthrough to new levels of faith if the Word fails to take hold in your life. Too many hear the word every day or every week but…it is being wasted. Why? Because they worry too much about earthly things; they have no root; or their hearts are hard.
Therefore, the worst response you can have to the Word is hearing it only. To take the Word to the next level in your life, you must accept it and produce its fruit. Otherwise you become like those Jesus described as “ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding.” (vs. 12) Accepting it means ordering your life in harmony with it.
To hear and not accept the word makes you as potentially dangerous as those who crucified Christ. In fact, when you live contrary to the word after having heard it, you do crucify Christ afresh. Taking the word to the next level means living it not just listening to it.
Taking the word to the next level means letting it produce the life of Jesus in you. How do you go to the next level in the word? Start with next-level prayer. Don’t just read the word, pray the word. Ask the Lord to “take His truth, plant it deep is us, shape and fashion us in your likeness; that the light of Christ might be seen today in our acts of love and our deeds of faith. Speak O Lord and fulfill in us all your purposes for your glory.”
Pastor Randy Maxwell