Is the parable of the Sower in Mark 4 describing how people will receive the word in different ways, or does it point more towards a progression of how everyone receives/will receive the word?
I think it's significant that in Jesus' explanation of the parable, he describes the first "seeds" as those who received the word along the path... And as soon as "Satan" comes, he takes away the word that was SOWN IN THEM.
Sown in them? So the seed was sown? The parable itself presents the seed as falling on the ground and birds eating it up... In the parable the seed isn't planted. I often picture the seed/word in this first scenario merely bouncing off and falling to the ground, but Jesus seems to indicate that the seed is actually "sown in" the person.
I think this fits well with what Jesus does after speaking the parable.
He tells his disciples that the reason he speaks in parables is so that...
"They may ever be seeing but never perceiving,
And ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be
That would be horrible wouldn't it?... If people saw and heard and turned and were forgiven. We wouldn't want that.
What is Jesus doing? I think it's speaks a lot to the purpose of parables... To transform those that hear.
Here, Jesus gives his audience just a sample of Isaiah 6. Now the people in that day would have immediately recognized the quote and they would have also been aware of what the whole passage says.
Here is a little more context of Jesus' quote...
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
He said, “Go and tell this people:
“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
Then I said, “For how long, Lord?”
And he answered:
“Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,
until the LORD has sent everyone far away
and the land is utterly forsaken.
And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.
First , Jesus seems to be comparing himself with the prophet Isaiah, but is there something significant about the last part of the chapter?
After everything has been laid to waste and everyone has been sent far way... Just as the oak tree leaves a stump when it is cut down, so the holy SEED will be a stump in the land.
In the midst of several parables all dealing with seed, Jesus refers to this Holy Seed that will be a stump!
Even though the birds eat the seed and Satan takes what is sown...
Even though the sun scorches and withers the plants and some may fall away...
Even though the seed is choked by the thorns and the word may be unfruitful...
Even though everything has been laid to waist and the trees have been cut down...
There remains a stump in the land... The holy seed has taken root.