Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:1-8

The challenge we face when reading texts like this is the tendency to see the world through the lens of dualism. Dualism is the belief that any given subject can be divided into two opposite perspectives/groups/views. In this case, we believe the parable is talking about whether a person has accepted faith in Jesus or not and whether they are “in” our “out” of the Christian club. We know from first-hand experience that there are very few subjects in life that can be reduced to Dualism, but we desperately want our faith to be reducible to that. So if it isn’t just talking about who is in and who is out of favor with God, what else could it be saying?

Our relationship with the teachings of Jesus is complicated. Yes, you may have embraced Jesus as savior and king, which is beautiful and critically essential, but no one has embraced Jesus’ teaching entirely. There are principles of truth that we have not yet understood or have not been able to master. This parable is not just about salvation, it’s also about our soul’s receptivity to the way of Jesus in the dark corners of our lives. We may have embraced Jesus’ way in one area of life but have not given up our tendencies toward fear. What dark corners do you still have in your soul? Is it a hidden sin? Is it a secret fear? Is it an unwillingness to let go of something? It can also merely be an indifference toward God’s way. Now ask yourself, how receptive is the soil of my heart in that area of life?

So today, take a moment to reread Mark 4:13-20 and practice Lectio Divina. First, read the text slowly, preferably out loud. Then meditate on the parable ask the spirit, what kind of soil is in my heart? Is that true for all areas of life or just one aspect? Finally, ask the spirit to soften your soul in that area.

By Aaron Bjorklund