Mark 4

Parable of the soils

1 Jesus began to teach beside the lake again. Such a large crowd gathered that he climbed into a boat there on the lake. He sat in the boat while the whole crowd was nearby on the shore.
2 He said many things to them in parables. While teaching them, he said,
3 " Listen to this! A farmer went out to scatter seed.
4 As he was scattering seed, some fell on the path; and the birds came and ate it.
5 Other seed fell on rocky ground where the soil was shallow. They sprouted immediately because the soil wasn't deep.
6 When the sun came up, it scorched the plants; and they dried up because they had no roots.
7 Other seed fell among thorny plants. The thorny plants grew and choked the seeds, and they produced nothing.
8 Other seed fell into good soil and bore fruit. Upon growing and increasing, the seed produced in one case a yield of thirty to one, in another case a yield of sixty to one, and in another case a yield of one hundred to one."
9 He said, " Whoever has ears to listen should pay attention!"

Jesus explains his parable

10 When they were alone, the people around Jesus, along with the Twelve, asked him about the parables.
11 He said to them, “The secret of God's kingdom has been given to you, but to those who are outside everything comes in parables.
12 This is so that they can look and see but have no insight, and they can hear but not understand. Otherwise, they might turn their lives around and be forgiven.
13 " Don't you understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables?
14 The farmer scatters the word.
15 This is the meaning of the seed that fell on the path: When the word is scattered and people hear it, right away Satan comes and steals the word that was planted in them.
16 Here's the meaning of the seed that fell on rocky ground: When people hear the word, they immediately receive it joyfully.
17 Because they have no roots, they last for only a little while. When they experience distress or abuse because of the word, they immediately fall away.
18 Others are like the seed scattered among the thorny plants. These are the ones who have heard the word;
19 but the worries of this life, the false appeal of wealth, and the desire for more things break in and choke the word, and it bears no fruit.
20 The seed scattered on good soil are those who hear the word and embrace it. They bear fruit, in one case a yield of thirty to one, in another case sixty to one, and in another case one hundred to one."

Parables about lamps and measures

21 Jesus said to them, " Does anyone bring in a lamp in order to put it under a basket or a bed? Shouldn't it be placed on a lampstand?
22 Everything hidden will be revealed, and everything secret will come out into the open.
23 Whoever has ears to listen should pay attention!"
24 He said to them, " Listen carefully! God will evaluate you with the same standard you use to evaluate others. Indeed, you will receive even more.
25 Those who have will receive more, but as for those who don't have, even what they don't have will be taken away from them."

More parables about God’s kingdom

26 Then Jesus said, " This is what God's kingdom is like. It's as though someone scatters seed on the ground,
27 then sleeps and wakes night and day. The seed sprouts and grows, but the farmer doesn't know how.
28 The earth produces crops all by itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full head of grain.
29 Whenever the crop is ready, the farmer goes out to cut the grain because it's harvesttime."
30 He continued, " What's a good image for God's kingdom? What parable can I use to explain it?
31 Consider a mustard seed. When scattered on the ground, it's the smallest of all the seeds on the earth;
32 but when it's planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all vegetable plants. It produces such large branches that the birds in the sky are able to nest in its shade."
33 With many such parables he continued to give them the word, as much as they were able to hear.
34 He spoke to them only in parables, then explained everything to his disciples when he was alone with them.

Jesus stops a storm

35 Later that day, when evening came, Jesus said to them, " Let's cross over to the other side of the lake."
36 They left the crowd and took him in the boat just as he was. Other boats followed along.
37 Gale-force winds arose, and waves crashed against the boat so that the boat was swamped.
38 But Jesus was in the rear of the boat, sleeping on a pillow. They woke him up and said, "Teacher, don't you care that we're drowning?"
39 He got up and gave orders to the wind, and he said to the lake, " Silence! Be still!" The wind settled down and there was a great calm.
40 Jesus asked them, " Why are you frightened? Don't you have faith yet?"
41 Overcome with awe, they said to each other, "Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!"

Mark 4 Commentary

Chapter 4

The parable of the sower. (1-20) Other parables. (21-34) Christ stills the tempest. (35-41)

Verses 1-20 This parable contained instruction so important, that all capable of hearing were bound to attend to it. There are many things we are concerned to know; and if we understand not the plain truths of the gospel, how shall we learn those more difficult! It will help us to value the privileges we enjoy as disciples of Christ, if we seriously consider the deplorable state of all who have not such privileges. In the great field of the church, the word of God is dispensed to all. Of the many that hear the word of the gospel, but few receive it, so as to bring forth fruit. Many are much affected with the word for the present, who yet receive no abiding benefit. The word does not leave abiding impressions upon the minds of men, because their hearts are not duly disposed to receive it. The devil is very busy about careless hearers, as the fowls of the air go about the seed that lies above ground. Many continue in a barren, false profession, and go down to hell. Impressions that are not deep, will not last. Many do not mind heart-work, without which religion is nothing. Others are hindered from profiting by the word of God, by abundance of the world. And those who have but little of the world, may yet be ruined by indulging the body. God expects and requires fruit from those who enjoy the gospel, a temper of mind and Christian graces daily exercised, Christian duties duly performed. Let us look to the Lord, that by his new-creating grace our hearts may become good ground, and that the good seed of the word may produce in our lives those good words and works which are through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God the Father.

Verses 21-34 These declarations were intended to call the attention of the disciples to the word of Christ. By his thus instructing them, they were made able to instruct others; as candles are lighted, not to be covered, but to be placed on a candlestick, that they may give light to a room. This parable of the good seed, shows the manner in which the kingdom of God makes progress in the world. Let but the word of Christ have the place it ought to have in a soul, and it will show itself in a good conversation. It grows gradually: first the blade; then the ear; after that the full corn in the ear. When it is sprung up, it will go forward. The work of grace in the soul is, at first, but the day of small things; yet it has mighty products even now, while it is in its growth; but what will there be when it is perfected in heaven!

Verses 35-41 Christ was asleep in the storm, to try the faith of his disciples, and to stir them up to pray. Their faith appeared weak, and their prayers strong. When our wicked hearts are like the troubled sea which cannot rest, when our passions are unruly, let us think we hear the law of Christ, saying, Be silent, be dumb. When without are fightings, and within are fears, and the spirits are in a tumult, if he say, "Peace, be still," there is a great calm at once. Why are ye so fearful? Though there may be cause for some fear, yet not for such fear as this. Those may suspect their faith, who can have such a thought as that Jesus careth not though his people perish. How imperfect are the best of saints! Faith and fear take their turns while we are in this world; but ere long, fear will be overcome, and faith will be lost in sight.

Mark 4 Commentaries