“The sower sows the word.” (Mark 4:14, ESV)
Jesus begins to explain to his followers what the parable of the sower means. They start to understand that he wasn’t just giving instruction in current agricultural techniques. This sower sows the “word.” What is the “word?” It is the message of Christ. John will tell us that “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1.1). The “word” in Mark is the message that Jesus himself has been spreading:
“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”” (Mark 1:14–15, ESV)
There is a fundamental shift here for the disciples and Jesus begins the shift in the parable of the sower, but his disciples will not fully understand it until he gives them the Great Commission.
In the Old Testament, the Jews were not proselytizers. They did not leave the Promised Land and spread throughout the world in order to tell everyone the good news about their God, creator of the universe. The Jewish attitude was well expressed by Solomon in his great prayer as he dedicated the temple:
““Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name’s sake (for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.” (1 Kings 8:41–43, ESV)
All of the peoples of the earth would know the name of Yahweh when the foreigner came to Israel and met the God of Israel at the temple. The Jewish attitude to spreading the news of God was “come and see.”
“The sower sows the word.” This sower is going out and spreading something. This begins a whole shift in the understanding of the disciples. Rather than wait in the Promised Land for people to come and find out about Jesus, they will be going out and sowing the word as they go. This new approach to spreading the good news of Jesus is to “Go and tell.”
Jesus will make this a direct command when he gives his disciples the Great Commission:
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:18–20, ESV)
We have the privilege and responsibility to be part of the “Go and tell” age. Jesus has given us the commission to go to every tribe, tongue, people, and nation and to preach the gospel. I had the opportunity to see this being done literally when I traveled down to Brazil to visit my good friends Gabe and Rachel Nunez and learn about their work among the Ka’apor tribe where they have dedicated their lives to telling them about the good news of Jesus and his love for the Ka’apor people.
Of course, we don’t have to travel to Brazil to “go and tell,” we can start in our own community, among our own tribe, who knows what God will do from there.