Mark 4

1 And again he began to teach by the sea side; and a great multitude was gathered together unto him, so that he went up into a ship and sat in the sea: and all the multitude was upon the land by the sea side.
2 And he taught them many things in parables, and said unto them in his doctrine:
3 Hear ye: Behold, the sower went out to sow.
4 And whilst he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and ate it up.
5 And other some fell upon stony ground, where it had not much earth; and it shot up immediately, because it had no depth of earth.
6 And when the sun was risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.
8 And some fell upon good ground; and brought forth fruit that grew up, and increased and yielded, one thirty, another sixty, and another a hundred.
9 And he said: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
10 And when he was alone, the twelve that were with him asked him the parable.
11 And he said to them: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but to them that are without, all things are done in parables:
12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.
13 And he saith to them: Are you ignorant of this, parable? and how shall you know all parables?
14 He that soweth, soweth the word.
15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown, and as soon as they have heard, immediately Satan cometh and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
16 And these likewise are they that are sown on the stony ground: who when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with joy.
17 And they have no root in themselves, but are only for a time: and then when tribulation and persecution ariseth for the word they are presently scandalized.
18 And others there are who are sown among thorns: these are they that hear the word,
19 And the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts after other things entering in choke the word, and it is made fruitless.
20 And these are they who are sown upon the good ground, who hear the word, and receive it, and yield fruit, the one thirty, another sixty, and another a hundred.
21 And he said to them: Doth a candle come in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?
22 For there is nothing hid, which shall not be made manifest: neither was it made secret, but that it may come abroad.
23 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
24 And he said to them: Take heed what you hear. In what measure you shall mete, it shall be measured to you again, and more shall be given to you.
25 For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, that also which he hath shall be taken away from him.
26 And he said: So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the earth,
27 And should sleep, and rise, night and day, and the seed should spring, and grow up whilst he knoweth not.
28 For the earth of itself bringeth forth fruit, first the blade, then the ear, afterwards the full corn in the ear.
29 And when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.
30 And he said: To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? or to what parable shall we compare it?
31 It is as a grain of mustard seed: which when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that are in the earth:
32 And when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches, so that the birds of the air may dwell under the shadow thereof.
33 And with many such parables, he spoke to them the word, according as they were able to hear.
34 And without parable he did not speak unto them; but apart, he explained all things to his disciples.
35 And he saith to them that day, when evening was come: Let us pass over to the other side.
36 And sending away the multitude, they take him even as he was in the ship: and there were other ships with him.
37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that the ship was filled.
38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, sleeping upon a pillow; and they awake him, and say to him: Master, doth, it not concern thee that we perish?
39 And rising up, he rebuked the wind, and said to the sea: Peace, be still. And the wind ceased: and there was made a great calm.
40 And he said to them: Why are you fearful? have you not faith yet?
41 (4-40) And they feared exceedingly: and they said one to another: Who is this (thinkest thou) that both wind and 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