Tuesday, 30 January 2024 The Rev’d Simon Copley,

When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, ‘To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables;  in order that

 “they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.”’

And he said to them, ‘Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables?  The sower sows the word.  These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy.  But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.  And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word,  but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing.  And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’


Mark makes a fascinating differentiation between disciples and crowds in his Gospel. There are 32 references to “crowd” (in the NIV), more than in either of the longer Gospels of Matthew and Luke – with a further 25 references to “people” or “the people” as well as to specific villages and towns. 

And, in Mark, Jesus interacts differently with both crowds and disciples. The former receive no-strings grace through healing and amazing acts of God while the latter, though being privy to the “secrets” of the Kingdom, are, nevertheless, set a very high-bar in terms of their call to take up the cross of Christ. 

Discipleship requires wholesale dedication and Jesus seems to want to make sure that entering and understanding the Kingdom doesn’t become too easy! Appropriately, the parable he is talking about underlines that things are not easy for the seeds that are sown…Grace may be given freely but it is, by no means, cheap. 

Being part of a small church in a crowded world, it is tempting to grow despondent, give up or look for quick fixes and comfortable answers. It seems that too much seed is wasted! The sower in the parable would never make a guest appearance on Countryfile – barring a search for the Dimmest Farmer of 2024! 

But I am struck by the numbers of people who “crowd” around the fringes of our congregational life and receive daily doses of extravagant grace from our generous Father: building and service users, passers by, children and young people etc etc. 

How much of that would happen without the commitment of a small band of people who spend their lives “around Jesus”? And I wonder, though many seeds seem to fall in unfruitful places, how many are falling and germinating, unseen, as yet hidden, in fertile soil? Let’s pray that the seeds grow and more disciples join us.  


Father of the Harvest,
who sows abundantly
and draws every heart 
through extravagant grace,
by Your Holy Spirit, give us:  
comfort when isolated and overwhelmed, 
perseverance in sowing, 
faith in Your nurturing of seeds…
strength for discipleship, 
welcome to the crowd, 
wisdom to know the difference… 
courage to proclaim Your cross, 
boldness to call everyone to carry it…
patience as we wait for Your harvest,
knowing that You call us all, 
through Christ, our Lord

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