Mark 4

Mark 4

Parable of the Sower
1Once again Jesus went to teach the people at the shore of Lake Galilee # 4:1 Commonly known as the Sea of Galilee. It is interesting that Jesus left the house (Mark 3:20) to go to the sea. The “house” suggests the “house of Israel,” and the “sea” speaks of the non-Jewish peoples (i.e., the “sea of humanity”). and a massive crowd surrounded him. The crowd was so huge that he had to get into a boat and teach the people from there. 2He taught them many things by using parables # 4:2 The Aramaic and Greek use a word for “parable” that means “a metaphor,” “allegory,” “simile,” “illustration,” “comparison,” “figure of speech,” “riddle,” or “enigmatic saying that is meant to stimulate intense thought.” Throughout Hebrew history, wise men, prophets, and teachers used parables and allegories as a preferred method of teaching spiritual truths. Poets would write their riddles and musicians would sing their proverbs with verbal imagery. Jesus always taught the people by using allegory and parables (Matt. 13:34; Mark 4:34). As a true prophet, one of Jesus’ preferred methods of teaching was allegory. To deny the validity of allegorical teaching is to ignore the teaching methods of Jesus, the living Word. to illustrate spiritual truths, saying:
3“Consider this: A sower went out to sow. 4As he sowed some fell along the beaten path and soon the birds came and ate it. 5Some fell onto gravel with no topsoil and quickly sprouted since the soil had no depth. 6But when the days grew hot, the sprouts were scorched and withered because they had insufficient roots. 7Some fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 8But some fell onto good, rich soil that kept producing a good harvest. Some yielded thirty, some sixty—and some a hundredfold! 9If you understand this, then you need to respond.” # 4:9 Or “The one with ears to hear should use them.” We usually apply portions of this parable to unbelievers, but Jesus instructs us to apply it to ourselves. The four kinds of soils speak of four kinds of hearts: hard hearts, hollow hearts, half hearts, and whole hearts. With the first soil we see the activity of Satan, the second, that of the flesh, and the third, that of the world. Bearing fruit is never a problem with what is sown but with the soil it falls upon.
The Purpose of Parables
10Afterward, Jesus’ disciples and those close to him remained behind to ask Jesus about his parables. 11He said to them, “The privilege of intimately knowing the mystery of God’s kingdom realm has been granted to you, but not to the others, # 4:11 Or “to the outsiders.” The Aramaic is “backward ones.” Jesus spoke allegorically so that those who didn’t care to understand couldn’t understand. Yet he knew that the hungry ones would seek out the hidden meaning of the parables and understand the secrets of God’s kingdom realm. It is still that way today. See Prov. 25:2. where everything is revealed in parables.
12“For even when they see what I do, they will not understand, and when they hear what I say, they will learn nothing, otherwise they would repent and be forgiven.” # 4:12 See Isa. 6:9–10.
13Then he said to them, “If you don’t understand this parable, how will you understand any parable? 14Let me explain: The farmer sows the message of the kingdom. 15What falls on the beaten path represents those who hear the message, but immediately Satan appears and snatches it from their hearts. 16And what is sown on gravel represents those who hear the message and receive it joyfully, 17but because their hearts fail to sink a deep root, they don’t endure for long. For when trouble or persecution comes on account of the message, they immediately wilt and fall away. 18And what is sown among thorns represents those who hear the message, 19but they allow the cares of this life and the seduction of wealth and the desires for other things to crowd out and choke the message so that it produces nothing.
20“But what is sown on good soil represents those who open their hearts to receive the message and their lives bear good fruit—some yield a harvest of thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold!”
Parable of the Lamp
21He also gave them this parable: “No one lights a lamp # 4:21 The Jewish people considered the Torah, God’s Word, to be a lamp that gives light to see and understand. Israel was meant to be a light that gives illumination to the nations. Jesus also calls his followers those who “light up the world.” See Matt. 5:14. only to place it under a basket or under the bed. It is meant to be placed on a lampstand. 22For there is nothing that is hidden that won’t be disclosed, and there is no secret that won’t be brought out into the light! 23If you understand what I’m saying, you need to respond!” # 4:23 Or “The one with ears to hear should use them.” The Aramaic is “If one brings a hearing ear for himself, he will hear.”
24Then he said to them, “Be diligent to understand the meaning behind everything you hear, for as you do, more understanding will be given to you. And according to your longing to understand, # 4:24 Or “By the measure with which you measure, it will be measured to you.” Some interpret this to refer to our relationships; i.e., “The way you treat others will be the way you will be treated.” However the context is clearly about having an open heart to receive and live in truth, and not to hide it or have a closed heart to understand. much more will be added to you. 25For those who listen with open hearts will receive more revelation. But those who don’t listen with open hearts will lose what little they think they have!” # 4:25 This verse contains a complicated ellipsis, which is a literary function of omitting certain information to invite discovery. The ellipsis of the text has been supplied by making explicit what is implicit in the context. The verse reads literally “More will be given to the person who has (something), but a person who doesn’t have (something), even what (something) they do have will be taken from him.” This translation fills the ellipsis with the theme of the context—having an open heart to receive the truth of God. The parables of the sower and of the lamp are similar in that they speak of the heart that receives truth. The Word is a “seed” that grows within us and a “lamp” that glows within us.
Parable of the Growing Seed
26Jesus also told them this parable: “God’s kingdom realm is like someone spreading seed on the ground. 27He goes to bed and gets up, day after day, and the seed sprouts and grows tall, though he knows not how. 28All by itself it sprouts, and the soil produces a crop; first the green stem, then the head on the stalk, and then the fully developed grain in the head. 29Then, when the grain is ripe, he immediately puts the sickle to the grain, because harvest time has come.” # 4:29 This parable is only found in Mark’s Gospel. It teaches us that the reality of God’s kingdom realm is like seed sown into the world that will grow through stages of maturity until the harvest.
Parable of the Tiny Mustard Seed
30And he told them this parable: “How can I describe God’s kingdom realm? Let me illustrate it with this parable. 31It is like the mustard seed, the tiniest of all the seeds, 32yet when it springs up and grows, it becomes the largest plant in the garden, with so many large spreading branches, even birds can nest in its shade.” # 4:32 Like the preceding parable, this is an allegorical way of describing the growth of God’s kingdom realm. It may appear in the beginning as small and insignificant, yet it will grow until it becomes the greatest kingdom of all. Both of these parables teach us that God’s kingdom is growing on the earth and not diminishing. See Ezek. 17:22–24.
Jesus Always Taught Using Parables
33Jesus used many parables such as these as he taught the people, and they learned according to their ability to understand. 34He never spoke to them without using parables, but would wait until he was alone with his disciples to explain to them their meanings. # 4:34 Jesus still delights to mystify those who follow him, but he waits until we are alone with him, and then he reveals the wonders of his grace and truth to our hearts.
Jesus Stills a Storm
35That same day, after it grew dark, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” 36Leaving the crowd behind, the disciples got into the boat in which Jesus was already sitting, and they took him with them. Other boats sailed with them. 37Suddenly, as they were crossing the lake, a ferocious storm arose, with violent winds and waves that were crashing into the boat until it was nearly swamped. # 4:37 This gale of wind and ferocious tempest was demonic in nature, as Jesus was about to confront a powerful principality on the other side of the lake. (See Mark 5:1–20.) Jesus would not have rebuked the storm if it was from God. The devil knew that if Jesus crossed to the other side, he would cast out the demon horde that had long terrorized the entire region. 38But Jesus was calmly sleeping in the stern, resting on a cushion. 39So they shook him awake, saying, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are all about to die!” Fully awake, he rebuked the storm and shouted to the sea, “Hush! Be still!” # 4:39 In Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, it is “Peace. Submit to the will of God!” All at once the wind stopped howling and the water became perfectly calm.
40Then he turned to his disciples and said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Haven’t you learned to trust yet?” 41But they were overwhelmed with fear and awe and said to one another, “Who is this man who has such authority that even the wind and waves obey him?”
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