The Path More Traveled

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One of my favorite superheroes in the Marvel movies is Dr. Strange.

And one of my favorite scenes is when Dr. Strange analyzes millions of possibilities.

After seeing 14,000,605 possible outcomes, he found that they would only win the war in one of them.
In the same way, there are many wrong paths that we could take in life, but there is only one way that leads to eternal life.

Mark 4:3-8.

Listen! Consider the sower who went out to sow. As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it grew up quickly, since the soil wasn’t deep. When the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it didn’t produce fruit. Still other seed fell on good ground and it grew up, producing fruit that increased thirty, sixty, and a hundred times.

For the next four weeks, we’re going to look at the four types of soil that Jesus talked about in this parable.
Parables are often said to be illustrations, helping us to understand spiritual things better.

Many people have said:

A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.

But Jesus also used parables to conceal teaching from those who weren’t yet ready to hear it. We’re going to hear about one such group this morning.

The parable begins by introducing the main character of the story, who Jesus calls “the sower.” A sower was simply a farmer, scattering seed for his crop. Some commentaries suggest that Jesus right then saw a sower sowing seed.

Regardless, when Jesus explained the parable, He made it clear who the sower represented. (v. 14) It’s strange, though, because you would think Jesus wouldn’t waste His time ineffectively. But the sower sowed seed indiscriminately, inviting all people to receive God’s grace. So as we look at these four types of soil ask yourself: which one am I?

But also, realize that God wants all of us to become a specific one of these.

The type of soil that we’ll be focused on today, though, is found in verse 4. We sometimes talk about being on the right path or on the wrong path. But when it comes to this parable, the only path talked about is the wrong path.

Proverbs 14:12 says:

There is a way that seems right to a person,
but its end is the way to death.

The path would be trampled down, packed down, not at all soft soil that seed could penetrate. So instead of the seed being planted, birds would come and eat the seed off the ground.

I recently installed a bird feeder outside our house with a camera.

Once the birds knew the seed was there, they began to constantly come to eat the seed. In the natural world, this is a good thing, but in our parable today, it’s very bad.

This is how Jesus explained this part of the parable. (v. 15) Jesus wants us to be people who embrace the gospel. Jesus began His preaching ministry this way:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15)

But this type of soil, the path, seems to outright reject the gospel. So we might say that these people are the furthest from God. They have the hardest hearts, seemingly impenetrable by the gospel. Instead of seeking God, it appears they enjoy the company of Satan, since he’s right there to keep them from coming to faith when they have the opportunity. Just as the birds ate the seed on the path, Satan snatches the word away from people who might hear and believe the gospel.

And I’ve just got to point out here that I’ve always known that birds are of the devil!

The point of this parable is not that you cannot become a different kind of soil. The point is that we would reflect on whether we are the kind of soil God wants us to be.

A great example of this is C.S. Lewis.

As an atheist, C.S. Lewis wrote:

All religion was an attempt by primitive man to cope with the terrors of the natural world.

But through conversations with his colleague J.R.R. Tolkien, and through reading God’s word, God broke through his heart hard and planted the seed of the gospel, which ultimately led to him coming to faith in Jesus. C.S. Lewis, as a believer now, eventually wrote this:

Faith in Christ is the only thing to save you from despair.

So if you feel like this is the condition of your heart, the solution is simple: stop listening to Satan. Start listening to God. Allow God to cultivate your heart, just as a farmer can plow the hard ground to make it soil that he can plant in.

You see, the path more traveled in life is the one that is trampled upon by Satan and his demons. But there is a path less traveled that honors God and leads to God’s blessing. In fact, there is only one way that leads to life.

Matthew 7:13-14 says:

Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.

Jesus Himself is the narrow gate. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.