In our study of Mark chapter four, we will look at the mystery of physical life as well as the mystery of our life in Christ.
"Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge." NIV translation
At the end of chapter three, Jesus was teaching in a house and that is symbolic of His ministry to the people of Israel. Now, we see that the scene has shifted to the lake which is symbolic of the nations (Gentiles).
"He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said:" NIV translation
This is about the halfway point in His ministry on earth and He began to teach using parables which were short stories about common everyday things. He did this for two reasons. The first is that the religious leaders had begun to try to trap Him in His words and secondly the people had become disinterested about spiritual things.
"'Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly , because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.'" NIV translation
This first parable speaks of farming which all of the people would have been familiar with. This parable introduces us to the mystery of physical life. We can see that three things (water, light, & time) are required for the plant to sprout (be born). Three of the four groups of seeds made it to this point but the one that did not didn't have enough time for the process to be completed. We also see that three things (water, light, & good soil) are required for the sprout to grow to maturity. Only two of the three made it to this point while the third did not have sufficient water to live. Finally, we see that only one group of seed actually produced fruit while the other was choked out by the weeds which kept it from getting all of the water, light, and nutrients from the soil that were required.