About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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ch. 4:1-20   ch. 4:21-25    ch. 4:26-29    ch.4:30-24 


The Parable Of The Sower (ch. 4:1-20)


In verse 1 we see that Jesus went back to the lake, most likely the Sea of Galilee .  The crowed was so big that once again Jesus got into a boat and spoke from the boat.  Mark specifically tells us that Jesus began to speak in parables.  By all accounts, this is seen as Jesus’ first parable, or least, His first recorded parable.


We should also note that this parable of the sower that planted seed on different types of ground would have been easy for these people to understand.  The ground that Jesus spoke of in this parable was just like these people were used to.  People didn’t have huge farms.  They had small gardens separated by paths.  The ground in Galilee was elevated and quite rocky. There were patches of good soil here and there, but interspersed among the good soil were rocks and soil that had little depth.


People used to plant seed by hand so the seed often times spilled out of the person’s hand into parts of the ground where it was not intended  to fall. Thus the parable is relative to those hearing it.


The parable is found from verses 4 through 8.  The farmer sows his seed hoping for a good crop but in the process some seed falls on the path separating his plot of land from another person’s plot of land.  The ground is hard and the seed doesn’t get into the ground and the birds come and eat the seed.


Then some seeds fall along the side of the path where there is some soil but not that deep due to the rocky areas of Galilee they live in.  The seeds sprouts but because there is no depth of soil and the roots can’t grow, the sun scorches the plant and it dies.


Then some seed falls just beyond the rocky soil where there are thorns and other wild plants.  This seed begins to sprout as well, but the thorns choke the nutrients from the soil and these plants soon die as well. 


Finally most of the seed is sown on the good soil where the farmer intended it to grow.  Here the seeds produced the crop.  Some seeds multiplied 30 times over, while others multiplied 60 or even 100 times over.


In verse 9 Jesus says that “he who has ears to hear, let him hear”.  Jesus is speaking about two types of hearing hear I believe.  If one has physical ears to hear the words spoken, then let him pay attention so he can hear with the understanding of the heart and mind.  The parable thus has a meaning to it and these people could understand the meaning, if they applied themselves to do so.


We see in verse 10 that after the crowd had left, and when Jesus was alone with the Twelve and some other of His followers, they asked Him about the parable.  One thing to notice is that Jesus had more disciples than the Twelve.  The Twelve were disciples that were chosen by him to be apostles


In verse 11 Jesus gives a reason why He speaks in parables.  It was so that those who believed would understand, but those who were “outside”, meaning unbelievers wouldn’t understand.  This tells us that God does not want unbelievers to understand the things of the Kingdom of God .  These things only come by revelation from the Spirit of God after one has given his life to Jesus. 


Sometimes Jesus spoke plainly for all to hear, yet concerning the Kingdom of God , He spoke in parables.  An example of Jesus speaking plainly is when He would tell the Pharisees that they were children of the devil and not children of Abraham.  But the things concerning God’s reign on earth, both in a spiritual sense and in a material sense were hidden from the unbeliever.  There’s no use of unbelievers understanding these things anyway.  They can’t walk in the truths of the Kingdom, because they don’t belong to the Kingdom.  This is especially true in Jesus’ day when He was teaching.  To say that there was a kingdom more important than the Roman kingdom would be treason.      


For some people verse 12 is hard to understand.  Jesus quotes from Isa. 6:9-10 when He says, “they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever haring but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven”.   The question is always asked, “why would Jesus not want certain people to turn and be forgiven”?


This seems to be the most common answer to this question.  The people to whom Jesus is referring to here are the Pharisees and their devoted followers.  They are continually rejecting Jesus and what He is offering them.  It thus appears that after all this rejection God is turning His back on them and doesn’t even want these people to turn and repent. It is as if these people  have had ample opportunity to repent but still continue to reject God’s provision in Jesus.  Therefore  Jesus speaks in parables so they can’t understand and can’t come to repentance.  There doesn’t seem to be any further explanation of this.


One thing to note here is that by Jesus quoting this prophecy from Isaiah, He’s suggesting that this prophecy is now being fulfilled.  If this is true, then this prophecy might well be specifically concerning the Jewish leadership of the time.  This might help understand the prophecy better.  God’s attitude towards the ongoing rebellion of His people’s leaders may be different than that of the general public. 


In verse 13 Jesus seems a little taken back that His followers needed an explanation to this parable.  Some don’t see the structure of this sentence as demonstrating surprise on the part of Jesus.  Why would Jesus be surprised if He knows the hearts and minds of men?  These people merely say that Jesus is repeating what His followers told Him in that they did not understand the parable. 


On the other hand, if Jesus did show some surprise it might be because of His human nature.  I can’t say for sure, but if Jesus was fully God and fully human, then His humanness may have acted surprised.  It might well be that at times Jesus had struggles between His humanity and His divinity.


In verse 15 Jesus says that the seed represents people.  In the first case when the seed was dropped  along the path it is like people who received the word.  Because of the hard packed down soil on the path, no seed can take root.  This type of person hears the Word of God but satan takes it away before it even can have any effect.  These people do not get saved, because satan takes the Word away from them.  They merely hear the word.  So here we see the battle in sharing the gospel.  At times when the gospel is proclaimed some people can’t receive it and get saved because satan has intercepted the gospel message before it reaches their hearts.  This should tell us something about satan’s activity.  I don’t believe that this is the end of the matter for this type of person.  It may well be that they have another chance at receiving the word at another time where it will take root.


In verses 16 and 17 we see the Word or the seed that falls in rocky soil.  This seed or Word is actually received into the lives of the hearer.  My opinion is that these people do get saved, but when trouble and persecution comes, they can’t take the pressure and they give up.  If these people are truly saved, then at this point they get unsaved, although those believing in once saved always saved can’t accept this point.


The reason why these people fall away is because their root system is not developed.  This shows us the importance of being rooted in the things of the Lord and being rooted has a lot to do with understanding the truths of God found in Scripture and being fitted into the Body of Christ.


In verses 18 and 19 we see the Word that is sown among the thorns.  This Word also produces a plant and gets farther along than the seed planted in rocky soil.  But as the thorns take the nutrients out of the soil, so the cares of life and the desire to want more of the world choke God’s Word.  This person falls away as well.  This tells us that we need to put the things of this world in proper perspective once we become a Christian.


Then the last part of the parable is the Word falling on good ground.  This is people who hear the Word, receive it, and allow it to produce fruit.  They allow the Word of God to grow like a good plant should, but not just to grow but to produce fruit.  This is why the gospel message is sown into our lives.  That is, it should produce good fruit. 


We should note that not everyone produces the same quantity of fruit.  Some yield 30 fold, while others yield 60 or 100 fold.  This tells us that not everyone should be expected to produce 100 percent.  The quantity of fruit produced may well depended on the call of God on a life. The important thing is to produce fruit.  How much fruit and the type of fruit we produce is up to the Lord.


We see a 4 step progression  in this parable.  From the Word not even reaching the person, to the Word being received without root, to the Word being received and rooted but choked, and finally to the Word producing fruit as it should.  At any given time we all fall into one of these situations.  We may not stay in this situation.  At one point in our lives we may be like the seed falling on the path while at some other point in our lives we’re like the seed falling on good soil.  This puts an important emphasis on the one preaching the Word.  We should understand the struggle even before we preach.  We should realize that we’ll have different results with different people and that not all we preach to will stay with the Lord.  Part of our job is to pray for those we are sowing the Word with.     


A Lamp On A Stand (ch. 4:21-25)


In verse 21 Jesus continues to speak to those he has been talking too. He asks, “do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or under a bed”?   There’s only one answer to this question and that is why Jesus asks it. Of course Jesus isn’t speaking of an electric light here that could be put under a bowl or a bed. He’s speaking of an open flame of fire.  There’s no way you’d put that under any kind of bed without causing a fire.  And you wouldn’t put it under a bowl or else the flame would go out. The answer is clear.  You put the open flame of fire on a lamp stand in order to light the room.  


Now verse 22 may seem a little tricky to understand.  Jesus says that no one hides anything to conceal it.  They hide it so at some point it will be revealed for all to see.  At first glance this makes no sense.  If we hide something it is normally so others won’t see it. We don’t hide or conceal something and hope someone will find it and show it to everyone else.


Commentators suggest that when man hides something it is indeed for the purposes of having the thing concealed from others.  But this is not so with God.  He does not go around hiding things.  He may conceal certain things from certain people at certain times, but in most cases there comes a time for that which is hidden to be revealed. Prophecy is one example.


Yet when man hides something, many times it is because it is evil.  God will disclose that which man has hidden away.  If someone commits a sin and tries to hide it, if it’s not found out in this life time, it will be revealed at the end of the age when the books are open and mankind is judged.


Thus the light that comes from God will expose all the secret sins of man.  We will either be exposed by choice now as we give our lives to Jesus, or we will be exposed at the end of the age on the Day of Judgment.


It is actually better for us to give our lives to Jesus now and have God’s light come into our lives.  Because as it lights our lives the sin is forgiven and forgotten and isn’t really seen by others.  If we sin after we come to Jesus that very light will point out the sin so we can deal with it. 


In verses 25 and 26 Jesus says, “ with the measure you use it will be measured to you  - and even more.  Whoever has will be  given more, whoever has not, even that which he has will be taken from him”.


The idea of measuring here is also used by Jesus in other context.  For example in Matt. 7 Jesus uses it concerning forgiveness.  The way we measure out forgiveness is how others will measure it out in return.


Many have thought that Jesus is talking about money or material things here, but that isn’t really the context, although the principle would apply to material things as well.  The principle is this.  However we deal with others will be the way others deal with us. That’s not hard to understand.  If we are nice to others, they’ll  be nice to us.  If we are nasty to others, there’s a good chance they’ll be nasty in return. 


Jesus does not want us to deal with others differently than we’d have them deal with us.  There shouldn’t be a double standard.  We shouldn’t think that we are special and therefore get special treatment, even from God Himself.  God is just and He deals justly and so should we.


Then you might wonder about the last part of this verse concerning that which one has will be taken from him. That might not sound all that just. The point here is that in our dealings with others we should measure out, or give in the same way that we’d like to have them give to us in return.  If we are stingy with whatever we give, whether it be money or forgiveness, then God will deal justly with us.  He might well take away that which we have because we aren’t generous with what we have.


The best way to receive anything from our Lord is to give to others.  As we give Jesus will bless us in whatever way He sees fit.




The Parable OF The Growing Seed (ch.4:26-29)


In verse 26 Jesus says that “this is what the Kingdom of God is like”.  When Jesus speaks of the “ Kingdom of God ” by the very nature of saying these words it is in comparison to the kingdoms of man.  The Kingdom of God is that place where God is King.  Not all places on earth are under God’s authority.  To be more specific in this age, it is actually Jesus who is in charge of the Kingdom of God . He is the supreme ruler and He is in the process of making all things come under His authority.  Yet as Paul puts it, all things are not yet under the authority of Jesus, but some day they will be and at that time Jesus will then present all things back to God and Jesus Himself will sit at God’s feet and God the Father will be in charge.  To get a good understanding of this you can read 1 Cor. 15.


Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is like a farmer who plants seed into the ground.  Day and night, all by itself the seed grows until it is a full fledged plant and ready for harvest.  Jesus says that even though the farmer plants this seed, he doesn’t really know how the seed actually becomes a plant.  This was the case in those days, but today, we have a better understanding how seeds becomes plants. 


The Kingdom of God is like this seed turning into a plant.  The kingdom comes in stages.  In the Lord’s Prayer we’re taught to pray “your Kingdom come”.  We should understand that it comes in stages.


Jesus refers to Himself in the gospel of John as the seed that is planted.  When Jesus died on the cross, He was planted.  When He rose from the dead and returned to Heaven and poured out the Holy Spirit into the first believers, the Kingdom came to earth in its infant stages, as a new plant sprouts through the ground . The Kingdom throughout this age is a spiritual kingdom and those who belong to Jesus are subjects of the Kingdom.  But there will come a time in the future when the Kingdom of God will no longer be spiritual in nature on earth.  It will be material and spiritual.  At that point the Kingdom of God will be like a fully grown plant.


The Parable Of The Mustard Seed  (ch.4:30-34)


The parable in this section is short and simple.  Jesus speaks of a mustard seed that is planted into a garden.  The mustard seed is very small but grows into a very large plant.


It’s clear that the mustard seed is Jesus.  Jesus came to earth as a little baby and grew up as a normal boy.  There wasn’t anything  really outstanding about Jesus in the flesh.  Yet on the cross He was planted into the garden and once again, upon His ascension into Heaven and the giving of the Spirit to the believers the Kingdom of God began to grow from humble beginnings.   You see at the end of the Book of Revelation that the Kingdom of God fills the whole earth. It becomes the biggest kingdom ever to be on the earth.


In verses 33 and 34 Mark says that Jesus always spoke in parables as He taught the crowds, but when He was alone with His disciples, He explained to them what these parables meant. So is the way with Jesus.  Those who are His, He reveals to them the secrets of the Kingdom, but those without cannot understand these truths because they do not have the Holy Spirit.  It is the Lord’s will for us to understand, and leave outsiders in the dark when it comes to spiritual truth.


Jesus Calms The Storm (ch. 4:35-41)


This section is the account of Jesus calming the storm on the sea.  In verse 35 we learn that Jesus wanted to cross the lake, which would have been the sea of Galilee.  It was evening, the evening of the same day in which Jesus taught the crowd and then explained the parables privately to His disciples.


While on the lake a storm came up.  The boat began to fill up with water and the disciples in the boat were afraid that they would drown.  All along Jesus was sleeping in the boat on a cushion.  The disciples woke Jesus and asked Him, “don’t you care if we drown”?


It is clear that Jesus did not have the same concern as His followers had.  He sat up and rebuked the storm and immediately things were calm.  The disciples were both terrified and amazed.  The man they’d been following had actually turned the storm away. 


In response to the disciple’s fear Jesus asks them, ”why are you afraid?  Do you still have no faith”?


The simplest definition of the word “faith” is “to trust”, and in this context the trust would be in Jesus.  Jesus might well have known this storm was about to come while on the sea.  This might have been a test of trust for His disciples. We don’t  know this for sure, but it became a test anyway. 


Jesus was saying that His followers should trust Him no matter what the situation is.  Fear and faith are opposites, but what Jesus wants of us who follow Him is for us to grow in faith, grow in trust, and by so doing fear fades away.  Growing in this faith is a life long venture and doesn’t happen over night.  It sure didn’t happen over night with Peter, James, and the rest of the people who followed Jesus.  We are to trust, even if this trust is on the doorstep of death, as  it was in this case.



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