Studying the Book of Mark has really been beneficial. It has been a strong reminder of who I am in Christ, because of His identity in the Father. Mark teaches us about Jesus and His mission and ministry on earth, testifying that He is the Son of God.
Moving along to take a further look at the Gospel of Mark, we sink our heels down deeper. Stand firm. Read Mark 4:1-34.
Is there anything that grabs you here? Take note of it. I like to write my findings directly into my Bible! This helps put what I learn to memory, which helps me put it to practice. Plus, every time I read the book, I come upon my notes and I get refreshed.
In this passage, I find four encouraging parables.
Four Encouraging Parables
Jesus reveals all to the Apostles. Jesus could conceal the knowledge of sacred things from those who were uninterested or who would abuse such things. At the same time, parables, by illustrating spiritual realities, would help those who were interested in the truth to better understand it. Thus, parables have both a revealing and concealing effect.
What are the four parables in this passage?
-Farmer and the four soils with the seeds
-The lamp and the bushel
-The Kingdom of God and the sprouting seed
-The mustard seed
Take a minute to look closely at the different types of seed and the soil. What types of people are these symbolizing? You may be able to think of people you have known over your walk with the Lord that would fall under each different type. How many of these actually bear fruit?
The Parable of the Soil
As we learned earlier in our studies of the Book of Mark, Satan knows your weaknesses, and he’s ready to strike when you are overloaded! This is what’s happening to the seed that falls on compact soil or tarmac. The seed never roots, and Satan comes and steals the seed. This seed represents those people who have the Word immediately snatched away by Satan.
There are also people who receive the Word. The seed is sown upon rocky ground and some of it may sprout, but it doesn’t have any secure roots and easily gets ripped out from the rocks. This seed represents those who receive the Word, but fall away when turmoil arises.
There is another seed sown that takes root. It is the seed sown amongst the thorns. Interesting. The sprout is not thorns. It has the potential of being good and healthy. But the cares and deceptions of the world distract those amongst the thorns and keep them from bearing fruit.
Finally, we see the seed sown on the good soil. This seed represents those who accept the Word and bear spiritual fruit. Keep in mind, trees fruit at different times to one another and in different seasons. Not over night. Something else to learn here, true followers will bear at least some kind of fruit. This requires a living relationship with the Savior.
Looking at these different soils is alarming to me. I fear today we are surrounded by many nominal believers. In fact, this is probably nothing new but has always been the case or Jesus wouldn’t have needed to use this parable. At the end of the day, we recognize trees by their fruit. A living, healthy tree bears good, edible fruit.
The Parable of the Lamp and the Bushel
Next Jesus teaches the parable of the lamp. We learn that if we fail to function as a lamp, we may grow dim or lose our light. Every believer has a lamp lit by God. This light is the Word of God designed to shed light and guide us. Don’t let the world get on top of you and cover you! A bushel was used to hold grain. In fact, it was used as a measure. In other words, don’t let the measure of your needs of life snuff out your light.
This light also reveals, and will one day bring forth all that was hidden in the darkness. It will expose reality. This is what Jesus means when He says in Mark 4:25, “To the one who has, to him shall more be given; but the one who does not have, from him shall be taken away even that which he has.”
So just as it seems it is possible for the seed to be stolen or die, the light of the lamp can fade out.
Regarding the measure, putting it all together then, Jesus is saying that the measure to which we desire to know the truth determines our reward! How much of God do you want? A little? Your reward will then be little. A lot? Your reward will then be a lot! And your lifestyle, the brightness of your lamp, will shine to the brightness of your desires. Our reward will stem from not on how much we did for God, but on how much we let God do in us!
The Parable of the Man Scattering Seed
In verse 26 we come upon the parable of the man scattering seed. We learn that the man sows the seed and then carries on with his day, his life, and has no idea that while he was off living the seed sprouted! We are to understand that it is our responsibility to use our field and to plant it.
We have no idea about the lives we touched along the path. I think we will be pleasantly surprised to find out all of the lives we touched as we planted seeds all along the way! Keep in mind, it’s our business to sow, not to tend the field. God does the tending.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
The last parable Jesus mentions is that of the mustard seed. It’s perhaps the most significant, and the simplest of these four parables. It’s also easy to pass over the depth of what Jesus is saying, so I want to examine it.
The mustard seed was one of the smallest seeds sown. It is, in fact, so small that when it falls to the ground, you cannot locate it. In contrast, it yields a large and useful shrub. This parable is short, but so powerful. For the symbolism is beautiful. Jesus is revealing that the Kingdom of God had the smallest beginning, but when this tree is fully grown, it will give shelter to every nation under the sun!
In fact, this parable was shared only amongst the disciples. They were the mustard seeds. Few. But they grew, died, multiplied, and changed the earth! The mustard shrub has room for one and all!
Read now Mark 4:35-41.
People Who Follow Jesus
What does Jesus say to those who are interested in following Him and what happens once they do?
Jesus moves from addressing his disciples about seeds and light and bushels. He reveals that most seed dies and never sprouts. And even the tiniest seed can grown into something extremely useful and life saving. He warns us that light can fade, too, and to keep longing to know God.
But even for those who do these things, who fall on good soil and sprout and grow, who show their light, who shade and protect others, problems will come.
Jesus is keen to let them know, “the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.”
A man wanted to go live his life fully, see his father die, inherit his father’s land, and then follow Jesus. Jesus insists that he follow Him immediately. Jesus wants people to understand that there is a cost involved in being His disciple and that being His disciple must be their first priority.
Wind and Waves Obey Him
What did the disciples do when a fierce gale overcame them? Were they at peace? Even with Jesus amongst them? No! We think we would do it better, but would we? What do we do when troubles come? Do we think Jesus is asleep and indifferent? Or do we know He has got the wind in His palms? Following Jesus may mean being exposed to severe perils, sometimes physical, and always spiritual in nature. So, we, too, must expect to encounter perilous conditions and fierce trials. Jesus is able to preserve us even during the most extreme circumstances. Will we hold our ground?
Written by Jori Sams
Jori Sams is a Christian author and freelance writer with nearly 2000 published pieces on the Internet, with over 1500 being published by Yahoo. Her books are published through Writeious Books. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her following the sun…