He taught them many things by parables…. The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. (Mark 4:1, 14-15)
The parable of the sower is the first parable given in the book of Mark. In it, Jesus compares the ways people receive the gospel with the ways sown seeds grow. His first example is that of freshly sown seeds being devoured by birds before they have time to take root. Just as birds eat some of the seeds, so Satan comes to take away the word of truth that some people have received.
A few things to note. First, Satan doesn’t come to take the truth away from everyone who receives it. Second, we are not told why Satan comes to some and not others. Third, people are not actually seeds and Satan is not actually a bird; it’s only an analogy. The fact that Satan takes away the truth one time, doesn’t mean he can do it every time.
It is important to know that Satan is not all he’s cracked up to be. He’s definitely more powerful than us humans, but he is no match for Jesus Christ.
God vs. Satan
Have you ever seen a gospel tract depicting a battle between Satan and God for the souls of humans? Sometimes they are in comic book form, showing a demon sitting on one shoulder of a person and an angel on the other shoulder. All rests on the person’s decision, and the two spirits do all they can to sway the person to their side. It belongs in a comic book, because it is a parody of the truth. Satan is not on a par with God, as though he has the power to prevent God from his redemptive purpose for humanity.
In other words, there is no battle between God and Satan for your soul. That battle, such as it was, was won before the foundation of the world and was made plain to the world in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
When a person is the best at doing something, you might say, “She could do that in her sleep.” Well, Jesus not only could defeat Satan in his sleep, he defeated him in his death. Satan is a lame duck ruler. His days as corrupt, bully “prince of this world” (John 12:31) are numbered. He doesn’t have the last word; Jesus does. And Jesus’ word for humans is “Yes.”
Satan is our enemy, to be sure. Peter tells us that he “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We are no match for a lion, roaring or not, and we are no match for the devil. But Jesus is. Jesus has already de-fanged and de-clawed this “lion.” So Peter goes on to say, “Resist him [the devil], standing firm in the faith….” (verse 9).
Peter is talking about faith in the Son of God. When we stand with Jesus, trusting him, we stand also in his victory over the devil.
Not a quitter
“As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them” (Mark 4:15). But what happens next? Does Jesus throw up his hands, sigh heavily and shake his head in defeat? Does he say, “Well, you got me on that one, Satan.”
In the parable, Satan takes away the word that was planted in the person. We are not told in the parable what the sower does about that. But we are told in the Bible that God does not change in his covenant faithfulness to redeem lost humans. “I the Lord do not change,” he told Israel, “so you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed” (Malachi 3:6).
Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).
Jesus is a sower who does not give up. The fact that Satan might take away the word from a person doesn’t mean that Jesus won’t sow in that place again. Sometimes, in fact, he might sow in such a place through you.
Author: J. Michael Feazell, 2004, 2012