Mark 4

The Story of the Farmer

1 Again Jesus began to teach by the Sea of Galilee. The crowd that gathered around him was very large. So he got into a boat. He sat down in it out on the lake. All the people were along the shore at the water's edge.
2 He taught them many things by using stories. In his teaching he said,
3 "Listen! A farmer went out to plant his seed.
4 He scattered the seed on the ground. Some fell on a path. Birds came and ate it up.
5 Some seed fell on rocky places, where there wasn't much soil. The plants came up quickly, because the soil wasn't deep.
6 When the sun came up, it burned the plants. They dried up because they had no roots.
7 Other seed fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and crowded out the plants. So the plants did not bear grain.
8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It grew up and produced a crop 30, 60, or even 100 times more than the farmer planted."
9 Then Jesus said, "Those who have ears should listen."
10 Later Jesus was alone. The Twelve asked him about the stories. So did the others around him.
11 He told them, "The secret of God's kingdom has been given to you. But to outsiders everything is told by using stories.
12 In that way, " 'They will see but never know what they are seeing. They will hear but never understand. Otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!' " (Isaiah 6:9,10)
13 Then Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this story? Then how will you understand any stories of this kind?
14 The seed the farmer plants is God's message.
15 What is seed scattered on a path like? The message is planted. The people hear the message. Then Satan comes. He takes away the message that was planted in them.
16 And what is seed scattered on rocky places like? The people hear the message. At once they receive it with joy.
17 But they have no roots. So they last only a short time. They quickly fall away from the faith when trouble or suffering comes because of the message.
18 And what is seed scattered among thorns like? The people hear the message.
19 But then the worries of this life come to them. Wealth comes with its false promises. The people also long for other things. All of those are the kinds of things that crowd out the message. They keep it from producing fruit.
20 And what is seed scattered on good soil like? The people hear the message. They accept it. They produce a good crop 30, 60, or even 100 times more than the farmer planted."

A Lamp on a Stand

21 Jesus said to them, "Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a large bowl or a bed? Don't you put it on its stand?
22 What is hidden is meant to be seen. And what is put out of sight is meant to be brought out into the open.
23 Everyone who has ears should listen."
24 "Think carefully about what you hear," he said. "As you give, so you will receive. In fact, you will receive even more.
25 If you have something, you will be given more. If you have nothing, even what you have will be taken away from you."

The Story of the Growing Seed

26 Jesus also said, "Here is what God's kingdom is like. A farmer scatters seed on the ground.
27 Night and day the seed comes up and grows. It happens whether the farmer sleeps or gets up. He doesn't know how it happens.
28 All by itself the soil produces grain. First the stalk comes up. Then the head appears. Finally, the full grain appears in the head.
29 Before long the grain ripens. So the farmer cuts it down, because the harvest is ready."

The Story of the Mustard Seed

30 Again Jesus said, "What can we say God's kingdom is like? What story can we use to explain it?
31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed planted in the ground.
32 But when you plant the seed, it grows. It becomes the largest of all garden plants. Its branches are so big that birds can rest in its shade."
33 Using many stories like those, Jesus spoke the word to them. He told them as much as they could understand.
34 He did not say anything to them without using a story. But when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything.

Jesus Calms the Storm

35 When evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake."
36 They left the crowd behind. And they took him along in a boat, just as he was. There were also other boats with him.
37 A wild storm came up. Waves crashed over the boat. It was about to sink.
38 Jesus was in the back, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him up. They said, "Teacher! Don't you care if we drown?"
39 He got up and ordered the wind to stop. He said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down. And it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Don't you have any faith at all yet?"
41 They were terrified. They asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves 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