1 Mark 4:1; Luke 8:4.
2 He went into the vessel - Which constantly waited upon him,
while he was on the sea coast.
3 In parables - The word is here taken in its proper sense, for
apt similes or comparisons. This way of speaking, extremely common in the
eastern countries, drew and fixed the attention of many, and occasioned
the truths delivered to sink the deeper into humble and serious hearers.
At the same time, by an awful mixture of justice and mercy, it hid them
from the proud and careless. In this chapter our Lord delivers seven parables;
directing the four former (as being of general concern) to all the people;
the three latter to his disciples. Behold the sower - How exquisitely proper
is this parable to be an introduction to all the rest! In this our Lord
answers a very obvious and a very important question. The same sower, Christ,
and the same preachers sent by him, always sow the same seed: why has it
not always the same effect? He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!
4 And while he sowed, some seeds fell by the highway side, and
the birds came and devoured them - It is observable, that our Lord points
out the grand hinderances of our bearing fruit, in the same order as they
occur. The first danger is, that the birds will devour the seed. If it
escape this, there is then another danger, namely, lest it be scorched,
and wither away. It is long after this that the thorns spring up and choke
the good seed. A vast majority of those who hear the word of God, receive
the seed as by the highway side. Of those who do not lose it by the birds,
yet many receive it as on stony places. Many of them who receive it in
a better soil, yet suffer the thorns to grow up, and choke it: so that
few even of these endure to the end, and bear fruit unto perfection: yet
in all these cases, it is not the will of God that hinders, but their own
8 Good ground - Soft, not like that by the highway side; deep,
not like the stony ground; purged, not full of thorns.
11 To you, who have, it is given to know the mysteries of the
kingdom of heaven - The deep things which flesh and blood cannot reveal,
pertaining to the inward, present kingdom of heaven. But to them who have
not, it is not given - Therefore speak I in parables, that ye may understand,
while they do not understand.
12 Whosoever hath - That is, improves what he hath, uses the grace
given according to the design of the giver; to him shall be given - More
and more, in proportion to that improvement. But whosoever hath not - Improves
it not, from him shall be taken even what he hath - Here is the grand rule
of God's dealing with the children of men: a rule fixed as the pillars
of heaven. This is the key to all his providential dispensations; as will
appear to men and angels in that day. Mt 25:29; Mark 4:25; Luke 8:18; 19:26.
13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing, they
see not - In pursuance of this general rule, I do not give more knowledge
to this people, be. cause they use not that which they have already: having
all the means of seeing, hearing, and understanding, they use none of them:
they do not effectually see, or hear, or understand any thing.
14 Hearing ye will hear, but in nowise understand - That is, Ye
will surely hear. All possible means will be given you: yet they will profit
you nothing; because your heart is sensual, stupid, and insensible; your
spiritual senses are shut up; yea, you have closed your eyes against the
light; as being unwilling to understand the things of God, and afraid,
not desirous that he should heal you. Isaiah 6:9; John 12:40; Acts 28:26.
16 But blessed are your eyes - For you both see and understand.
You know how to prize the light which is given you. Luke 10:23.
19 When any one heareth the word, and considereth it not - The
first and most general cause of unfruitfulness. The wicked one cometh -
Either inwardly; filling the mind with thoughts of other things; or by
his agent. Such are all they that introduce other subjects, when men should
be considering what they have heard.
20 The seed sown on stony places, therefore sprang up soon, because
it did not sink deep, Mt 13:5. He receiveth it with joy - Perhaps with
transport, with ecstacy: struck with the beauty of truth, and drawn by
the preventing grace of God.
21 Yet hath he not root in himself - No deep work of grace: no
change in the ground of his heart. Nay, he has no deep conviction; and
without this, good desires soon wither away. He is offended - He finds
a thousand plausible pretences for leaving so narrow and rugged a way.
22 He that received the seed among the thorns, is he that heareth
the word and considereth it - In spite of Satan and his agents: yea, hath
root in himself is deeply convinced, and in a great measure inwardly changed;
so that he will not draw back, even when tribulation or persecution ariseth.
And yet even in him, together with the good seed, the thorns spring up,
Mt 13:7. (perhaps unperceived at first) till they gradually choke it, destroy
all its life and power, and it becometh unfruitful. Cares are thorns to
the poor: wealth to the rich; the desire of other things to all. The deceitfulness
of riches - Deceitful indeed! for they smile, and betray: kiss, and smite
into hell. They put out the eyes, harden the heart, steal away all the
life of God; fill the soul with pride, anger, love of the world; make men
enemies to the whole cross of Christ! And all the while are eagerly desired,
and vehemently pursued, even by those who believe there is a God!
23 Some a hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty - That is, in
various proportions; some abundantly more than others.