Meet the King - Hear the King - Mark 4:1-9

This is a family service talk by Malcolm Peters from the Riverside Church service on 4th May 2008.

Click here to read the bible passage. Click here to use larger text.

Well last month we had a break from our normal FS series so we could finish Go for Gold, our Easter Holiday club. 

But if you’ve been with us for earlier in the year for our family services, you’ll know that we’ve been looking at the story of Jesus in Mark's Gospel.   We’ve been meeting the King, King Jesus that is.  Each month we’ve been building up the whole story of Jesus from Mark’s Gospel.  

And to help us do that, every month we’ve had a new bit of the banner that’s [on the front of the puppet theatre/ hanging over there.]  And the banner reminds us of the story of Jesus in pictures.    And the second thing we’ve been doing each month is to learn the key verse from that month’s Bible reading.  So let’s remind ourselves of the story so far:      

Recap of Session 1

Have a look at the first banner, which is also coming up on the screen.   

[Banner 1 on screen]

What was going on back then? 

Well if you remember, right at the beginning of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus command people to repent.  He told them to turn away from what they’d been doing.  And he told them to follow Him.    And that’s exactly what those 2 fishermen did.  They left everything and followed Jesus.   Why?  Because Jesus has got the authority to tell us what to do.

So I wonder if anyone can remember the first memory verse.  [engage].   Well actually, if you need a clue, then there’s a copy of the memory verse stuck under one of the paws/ seats.  [engage]

[ Memory verse 1 up]

Recap session 2


Great.  And the following month, we saw that Jesus had authority over sickness.   [Banner 2 up] 

With just a Word, Jesus healed the leper.  Just like that. 

Who can remember the memory verse from that month?

[under seats routine]

J said:  [“If you are willing, you can make me CLEAN!”   ]

[put up memory verse 2 and relearn.]


Recap session 3

And last time back on Mother’s Day, we saw that Jesus had the authority to forgive sin.    [Banner 3 up]

His friends brought the paralysed man to Jesus.  Why?  Because they wanted Jesus to heal him.  But Jesus knows our greatest need is to be forgiven.  So before he healed the paralysed man, who can remember what Jesus said?  What was that month’s memory verse.  Who can remember it?

[under seats routine]

[Memory verse 3 up]

Exactly.  Even though the paralysed man was disabled;  even though he was in great physical need.  Jesus knew his greatest need was to have his sins forgiven.  So Jesus said to the paralysed man:  “Son:  your sins are forgiven”]






Reading:  Mk 4:1-9

[Sam appears during reading looking really engaged with the reading]


Talk Part II/  Puppet Sketch I



Me:  Thanks [Jean/ Terri]

Sam:    That was well interesting!

Me:  What the Bible reading!

Sam:   Noooo – all that stuff about seeds and gardening.

Me:    Well that was the Bible reading.

Sam:    Whatever!

Me:    Didn’t know that you were into gardening!

Sam:  Didn’t say I was did I!   

Me:  Whatever!

Sam:   Oi, that’s my line!

Me:  So if you’re not into gardening, why are you so interested in seeds and plants and all that!

Sam:  Cos I’ve been doing work experience in a garden centre.

Me:  Oh, that sounds good.    Did you enjoy it?

Sam:   I said it was work experience. 


Me:   So you didn’t like it because you had to do some hard work?

Sam:  Didn’t mind the work it was just the boss that did my head in!

Me:    What you didn’t get on with him?

Sam:    Kept telling me off didn’t he!

Me:    Because you weren’t doing what you were told?

Sam:  Can’t remember much about what we were supposed to be doing?

Me:    What you mean that no one explained what you were meant to be doing?

Sam:   Well on the first day, I did have a boring lecture.

Me:  But you weren’t listening.

Sam:   Well I was dreaming about getting a ticket to the Champions league final.  Rooney, Rooney.  Rooney. 

Me:   So back in the garden centre, what happened?

Sam:   The first thing I had to do was to plant these sunflower seeds.   

Me:   Oh - we’ve done that in our garden. 

Sam:    Well there was this great big sack of seeds and the instructions said:  plant liberally.  So I took a big handful, and walked over to the potting beds.   

Me:  Sounds good to me.  What’s wrong with that?   

Sam:  Well I lost loads on the way [pause] – they sort of just fell through my hands. 

Me:  And then what?

Sam:  Well some other geezers came along and trod on the seeds I’d dropped.

Me:    And….

Sam:  Well the boss man said I’d wasted loads and that I needed an injection of common sense.

Me:    What like putting them in a pot to carry from the sack to the planting beds?

Sam:  Yeah, that’s what he said:  are you 2 mates or something?

Me:   No, it’s just common sense. 

Sam:  Whatever!

Me:  And then what?

Sam:    He told me that he’d find me something to do out the back away from any customers.

Me:  So what was your next assignment out the back? 

Sam:  The lorry had delivered these trays of saplings, and I had to transfer them into potting beds. 

Me:  Sounds really interesting – I love gardening.

Sam:   You would.

Me:   So did something else go wrong then?

Sam:  Yeah- he starting shouting at me and telling me I was an idiot!

Me:  Sounds a bit unreasonable.  Unless you had another common sense failure?

Sam:   Well I planted all the samplings he gave me. 

Me:    And….

Sam:    Well no one told me that I was supposed to clear all the stones and weeds from the bed first. 


Me:  So you planted all the saplings in amongst weeds and stones. 

Sam:    And I forgot to mix in any compost!

Me:    You didn’t listen to the instructions then?

Sam:  [defensively]  Well I was listening, I just sort of  -  forgot.    

Me:   Well no wonder you found our Bible reading so interesting. 

Sam:    Yeah;’  it’s about me!

Me:  Well maybe, but not totally.

Sam:   Check it out:  a story in the Bible about me!

Me:    Well that story was a parable. 

Sam:  A what?

Me:  A parable.  And a parable is a story Jesus told to teach us something about himself. 

Sam:  So it’s not about me, it’s about Jesus?

Me:  Well if you stop talking for a few minutes, I’ll tell you what the parable was about – alright.

Sam:  I’m with you man. 

Me:  Good.  Because we’re not got to understand what the parable means for us if we don’t understand the story.    So let’s remind ourselves what happened in the story. 

So first of all, a farmer went to sow some seed.  And some of that seed fell on the path.  Who can tell me what happed to those seeds? 

Sam:   Some geezers trampled on them?

Me:  No;  anyone else.  There a clue in this month’s banner [on screen].   [engage]

That’s right.  The birds gobbled up all the seed.

But some seed feel on thorny ground.  What happened to those seeds?       [engage]    Exactly, the seed quickly sprouted and started growing;  but there wasn’t much soil; it was too rocky  and so as soon as the sun came out, the plants withered and died. 

The next lot of seed fell among thorns.  So who can tell me what happened to those seeds.  [engage

The seeds grew into plants, but what happened next?  [engage]

That’s right, the thorns choked the plants.  And so the plants died. 

But the last lot of seed fell in good soil.

Sam:  What you mean soil that’d been dug over with compost.

Me:  Maybe yes.  And the seeds planted in that spoil produced a bumper crop:  30, 60 or even 100 times what was sown. 

And when Jesus had finished telling that parable;  he said:  he who has ears to hear, let him hear.  And the point is that we don’t just need to listen to what Jesus is saying.  We need really hear him;  we need to think about what he’s saying. Take it in and work out what it means for us.

Sam:  I dig you.

Me:  I beg your pardon.

Sam:   I should have listened to my boss a bit more and then I wouldn’t have made such a mess?

Me:  Right.  But actually you need to listen to Jesus even more.  And that’s why we spend time looking at Bible stories here in Church.

Sam:  You’re alright for a vicar, d’you know what I mean?

Me:  I’ll take that as a compliment.

Sam:  I’m checking you out big time.  And I’ll be back, but I’ve arranged to meet my mates for a game of fottie, so gota shoot now  - know what I mean? 

Me:    I think so. 

Sam:  Thanks for all that seed stuff.  Ta tar for now.  [Sam exit]

Creed  + Intercessions +  Song

Reading:  Mk 4:10-20

Talk Part III – the meaning of the Parable

Don’t you understand this parable Jesus says.  And just in case you don’t I’m going to explain it says Jesus.  We don’t need to guess what it means, because Jesus has already told us.  So what did he say?  What’s the parable all about.

Who’s ever heard of good news bad news jokes?   Like the one where the Flight Attendant says to Passengers: bing bong:  Attention, please!  The Pilot has asked me to announce some good news and bad news.   The bad new is we're lost.  [pause]  But the good news is, we're way ahead of schedule.

Well that was a joke;  and the good news didn’t really solve the problem of the bad news.  They were still lost.  But J's parables aren't jokes.  They’re really serious.  And when Jesus explains the parable he tells us that seed really is good news;  good news about Jesus.  But we won’t understand the good news about Jesus unless we accept the bad news.  And the bad news is that none of us are perfect? Hands up who thinks they’re perfect.  [OK I’ll ask your mum and dad later.]  

When we’re honest, we know that we’re not perfect.  If  I played a DVD in church of everything you’ve ever thought, said and done in your life, I’m there’d be things you’d be ashamed of.  And there’d be things God’s angry about too.  Because God’s totally holy;  He’s 100% perfect.  He’s so perfect and holy he can’t stand bad things.  He’s so just he has to punish those bad things.   God’s justice means that, when we die, He’ll have to punish each and every one of us.  Why?  Because we’ve all disobeyed Him.    None of us have treated Him like the creator God he is.  We’ve all rejected His rightful rule over our lives. 

That’s the bad news.  But the parable had some good news.  And the good news is the Word about Jesus.  The fact that Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for all the bad things His children had done.  Jesus died on the cross so we could be forgiven.  Jesus died so that when we die, we can go to heaven instead of hell.  The seed is the good news about Jesus.

So the farmer sows the seed.  And the seed is the Good news about Jesus.  But what happens to that seed.  Well as I was explaining to Sam the Cam earlier, the seed of the Word fell on 4 different types of soil didn’t it.  Who can remember them.  And there’s a clue in this month’s banner [Banner 4 on screen]     [engage]

Well done:  we had the path, the rocky soil, the thorny soil and the good soil.  So what it’s all about? What did those 4 types of soil mean.    Well the farmer was scattering the seed. [picture from p343 up again]   The seed of J’s Good news.  And what Jesus is saying is that there are 4 types of people here in church this morning.

Path:  some of you are like the seed that fell along the path [picture from p344 up]  Just like Sam the Cam, you’ve have heard good news.  You’ve listened to the seed being scattered.  But without even looking into it, you’ve already decided it’s not for you.  You’re going to ignore it.  Maybe you think Jesus is for whimps, women and children.  Maybe you don’t care that you’re not forgiven.   Maybe you don’t care that you’re not part of God’s kingdom.   And if that’s you, then you like the path in that parable.  Satan has snatched the seed from right under your nose so you can’t accept it.  It’s sad, but it happens all the time.   Pray that it doesn’t happen to you.  [pause]

Rocky soil:  But some of you will be like the rocky soil.  You’ve heard the good news about Jesus before.  And maybe you’ve responded in some way. Maybe you’ve been to church many times and you’ve been attracted to Jesus.  In some way you’ve said yes to the Gospel.  But Jesus predicts that as soon as persecution comes along, you’ll give up.  Persecution!  Surely no-one’s persecuted in England for being a Christian, you might be thinking.   Well, somebody did threaten to kill me in this country mainly because I was a vicar.  But thankfully it’s not a common experience in England.  For most Christians in this country, persecution is likely to mean being laughed at;  you know, when people at school or work find out you go to church, they laugh, don’t they.  Or if they don’t laugh, they talk about it behind your back.  What d’you wanna do that for.  Bible basher.  Jesus freak.  And I know some of you have been through some of that as well.  But if you’re like the rocky soil, then even though you might have said yes to Jesus at some point; yes to the Good News of the Gospel, when persecution or tough times come along, you’ll give up.  You’ll wither away.  It might take some time.  But you won’t last.  [pause] So is that you?  [pause]

Thorny Soil:   We’ve had the path.  We’ve had the rocky soil.  And next was the thorny soil. [thorny soil picture up] And some of you will be like this.  You’ve said yes to the good news of Jesus.  Maybe you’ve been coming to church or even helping out for years.  But the thorns get in the way;  the worries of life get in the way of following Jesus properly.    Maybe it’s football or some other sport.  Maybe it’s your school work. Maybe it’s the children or your job.  Maybe it’s your health or something else that takes up all your attention.  But whatever it might be for you, means there’s no room left for Jesus. There’s not enough room to let the seed of the Gospel grow in your life.  You’ve not got enough time to study the Bible, pray about it and meet properly with other Christians.  You’ve said yes to Jesus in some way, but he’s not the top priority in your life.  And if that’s you, then you’re the thorny soil.   [pause]


Good Soil:  But if you’ve responded to Jesus properly;  if you’re really following Jesus and growing in the Gospel, then you’ll stick w/ Jesus no matter what happens. You’re the Good Soil.  [Good soil picture up]  Even when life’s really busy;  even when you go through tough times;  even when you’re persecuted.  If you’re good soil, if you really are a Christian, then in years to come, you’ll be able to look back and see how Jesus has been working in your life;  you’ll be able to see how you’ve grown to be more like Him;  you’ll be able to see that the seed of the Gospel has produced a bumper crop in your life.  That’s what it means to have a harvest of 30, 60 or 100 times of what was sown.  You’re good soil.  You really are a Christian.    And your life is increasingly being shaped by J’s character and priorities.  You’ll share J's concern to spread the seed of the Gospel.  And your lifestyle will increasing reflect the character of Jesus.    A harvest of righteousness – 30, 60 or even 100 times what was sown.  

And so the question is, what kind of soil are you?  Are you the path, the rocky soil, the thorny soil or the Good soil?       If you’re a path, then I’m afraid I can’t do anything for you.  You’ve already rejected the Gospel and nothing I say will make any difference.  But if you’re not sure what kind of soil you are;  if you know deep down that you need to find out more;  if you’re not sure, but you think you want to be Good soil, then there’s lots we can do to help you whatever your age or background. 

And the best thing to do as a start would be to come back to church.  Come back to our FSs on the first Sunday of the month.  But come back on other Sundays too.  Every Sunday we have a crèche, and on Sundays in-between FSs we have a Sunday School, while we adults have some more in depth teaching from the Bible here in church.  

For children of primary school age we have [Kings/ J] club after school on [Mondays/ Tuesdays].    And for adults, we run a course every term called Christianity Explored which is a 6-week course going through Mark’s Gospel in more depth than we’ve got time for in these services.  6 sessions in Mark’s Gospel to help us see who Jesus is and what he’s done for His people.  And the next course starts this Thur 8 May down at the NCC near Sainsbury’s on Beverley Road.   And if that might be for you, then either fill in one of these welcome cards from the Info Stand and tick the box on the back, or come and speak to me after the service. 

So as we finish, let me read to you the words from end of the Ballad of Farmer Phil:

Farmer Phil went out one day, out to sow the seed.  Well that seed’s the Word of God.  And the Word of God is True.  Is that Word of God, gonna grow in you? 

And that’s the big question.  What kind of soil are you?  Let’s have a few moments to reflect on that before we pray.   Let’s pray.

Closing Prayer

Dear L Jesus, thank you that you died on the cross taking the punishment for all the wrong things you people have ever done.  Thank you for this good news, this seed.  Lots of us want to be good soil, so pl protect us from Satan and help our faith in you not to be damaged by all the rocks and thorns in our lives;  help us to be good soil so we can be more like you and spent eternity with you in Heaven.  Amen.

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