TODAY’S READING: Mark 4–5
The parable of the sower is so critical that Jesus cautions us: If we miss the meaning of it, we will miss the meaning of all parables (Mark 4:13). Verse 14 is the simple key: “The sower sows the word.” If we understand nothing else, we must understand that our central assignment is to broadly disseminate the Word of God. If we miss that simple, central truth, we will not understand leadership or holism or strategy or evangelism or missions. Let it sink down deeply into our souls and may it soundly penetrate our understanding—that our primary obedience is to broadly proclaim the Word of God, sowing to every kind of soil, receptive or not. This essential understanding if missed or diluted will handicap and distort all. The sower sows the Word.
Mark 4 and 5 lay out essential missionary necessities. We are to sow, shine, share, scythe, shade, sleep, and send. Jesus was taking the disciples on a missionary trip to a Greek town in a Roman province to cast out demons. “Send” refers both to the casting out of devils and the “go and tell” in which new disciples are expected to multiply by sowing seed themselves (5:19).
In missions to unreached peoples, three encounters typically interact. The insertion point is arbitrary; the encounters are not strictly equal. As referred to above, the primary assignment is to sow seed, to preach and teach the Word of God, but that is not always where we begin.
Love Encounters: Missionaries are to share life with their host peoples. We are not to view unreached peoples as targets or projects. We are to love and be loved, we are to serve, we are to bless, we are to lay down our lives in a thousand kind acts for thousands of days in a row. We are to demonstrate that we are a community of love and in that demonstration declare there is a family of God willing and wanting to receive new members.
Power Encounters: As part of their journey, very few Muslims come to faith outside of a dream, healing, miracle, or showdown of one kind of another. In all false religions, the gospel does not just address the forensic realities (guilt/innocence) or the societal implications (shame/honor), it also addresses the strongman (fear/power). The gospel must declare and demonstrate that Jesus has power over devils, darkness, and death.
Truth Encounters: The gospel as articulated and explained in the Bible must be presented in a way that is understood. Faith still comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. While love and power encounters are essential, they are not salvific. Men and women have been saved without relationship with Christians and without miracles in their lives, but no one has ever been saved outside of the gospel seed finding good soil in their heart.
The sower sows the Word.
 Sleep refers to grace and trust in mission adversity.