A Journey Through Mark-Chapter 4

Focus: Mark 4:1-9

Mark’s Gospel gives us a number of parables about seeds and growth that seem pretty straightforward at first. The seed is the message of the Gospel, the earth is the recipient of the message. When I have read these parables in the past, I have focused a lot on the seed being the important part of the parable, but now I’ve been looking at just how important the earth and the birds are to the various parables. Each type of earth brings something different to the seed. Some of them are very fertile and the seed is able to grow while others are not. These are metaphors for people. Some people are open to hearing new ideas while others are scared or have interest at first or just take a bit longer to receive the message and others will never hear the message or flat out reject the message.


I want to focus quickly on the ones who I think will take some time or need some more help than the others: the seed that was dropped on the road. When the seed was dropped on the road and didn’t start to grow, surely people wrote the seed off as a lost seed. The seed just sat in the road. People passed by and stepping on it or don’t notice it at all. The birds flew down to eat it. No one probably cared about the seed, after all, it was dropped there and nothing is growing. It probably wasn’t worth the time for someone passing by to stop, bend down, and pick it up. This parable seems to me to say that nothing good can come from the seed in the road.

But what if the seed was seen and picked up by a passerby? Placed someplace where there was just enough fertile ground to grow. Nurtured and cared for. Saved before a bird could come and snatch it up. The more and more I thought about this, the more I started to realize that sometimes we are the passersby. In our interactions with others, we have the option of stopping to help the seed grow or to continue to walk by. I would even say that we are the bird at times, swooping in to pick up the seed before it even has a chance to grow. 


I began to ask myself, “How often do we see people receive good news and then see another come in for whatever reason and take away the joy and the light that the moment brought?” How often have we been that bird? This might be a bit of an unconventional reading of this parable but it has reminded me to take joy in the joy of others and to nurture those around me who are trying to grow.

Holy One, as we walk the road before us, help us to see the little seeds that need to be moved and nurtured so that they can grow. Remind us to not be the birds, swooping in to take away something that could blossom and grow into something for everyone to see and enjoy. Amen.

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