Mark 4 Commentary


John Mark

MARK: THE SERVANT JESUS


Click chart to enlarge
Chart from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Another Chart from Charles Swindoll-right side of page

THE LIFE OF CHRIST SHOWING COVERAGE BY MARK (SHADED AREA)


Click chart to enlarge
Chart from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission

Mark 4:1 He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land.

NET  Mark 4:1 Again he began to teach by the lake. Such a large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the lake and sat there while the whole crowd was on the shore by the lake.

GNT  Mark 4:1 Καὶ πάλιν ἤρξατο διδάσκειν παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν· καὶ συνάγεται πρὸς αὐτὸν ὄχλος πλεῖστος, ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς πλοῖον ἐμβάντα καθῆσθαι ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ, καὶ πᾶς ὁ ὄχλος πρὸς τὴν θάλασσαν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἦσαν.

NLT  Mark 4:1 Once again Jesus began teaching by the lakeshore. A very large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat in the boat while all the people remained on the shore.

KJV  Mark 4:1 And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.

ESV  Mark 4:1 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land.

NIV  Mark 4:1 Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge.

ASV  Mark 4:1 And again he began to teach by the sea side. And there is gathered unto him a very great multitude, so that he entered into a boat, and sat in the sea; and all the multitude were by the sea on the land.

CSB  Mark 4:1 Again He began to teach by the sea, and a very large crowd gathered around Him. So He got into a boat on the sea and sat down, while the whole crowd was on the shore facing the sea.

NKJ  Mark 4:1 And again He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea.

NRS  Mark 4:1 Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land.

YLT  Mark 4:1 And again he began to teach by the sea, and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he, having gone into the boat, sat in the sea, and all the multitude was near the sea, on the land,

NAB  Mark 4:1 On another occasion he began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land.

NJB  Mark 4:1 Again he began to teach them by the lakeside, but such a huge crowd gathered round him that he got into a boat on the water and sat there. The whole crowd were at the lakeside on land.

GWN  Mark 4:1 Jesus began to teach again by the Sea of Galilee. A very large crowd gathered around him, so he got into a boat and sat in it. The boat was in the water while the entire crowd lined the shore.

BBE  Mark 4:1 And again he was teaching by the seaside. And a very great number of people had come to him, so that he got into a boat on the sea and took his seat; and all the people were on the land by the seaside.

  • He began - Mk 2:13 Mt 13:1,2-9 Lu 8:4-8 
  • so that - Lu 5:1-3 
  • Mark 4 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Parallel Passages

Mt 13:1-2+ “That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. 2 And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. 

Luke 8:4+  When a large crowd was coming together, and those from the various cities were journeying to Him, He spoke by way of a parable:

JESUS BEGINS
PARABOLIC TEACHING

While many call Mark 4:1-20 the "Parable of the Sower," it is probably more accurately titled "Parable of the Soils," for there is only one sower with one seed and there are four soils. The sower and the seed are unchanging variables, whereas the soil is the determining variable of subsequent fruitfulness. The corollary is that the skill of the sower or the efficacy of the seed are not the primary determinants of whether a seed will germinate and bear fruit. 

He began to teach again by the sea - Began to teach (see didasko below) in the present tense tense emphasizing not the fact of teaching but the process. Wuest writes Jesus' teaching "was line upon line, precept upon precept. The teaching was simplicity itself, and possibly oft repeated in order that the people might understand."

Notice the diagram above depicting the PUBLIC MINISTRY of Jesus, where the SHADED AREAS refer to the sections discussed in the Gospel of Mark. Note that references to Mark are recorded along the lower border of the diagram, where you see Mark 1:1, 1:14, 3:12. Now that you are oriented what do you see about Jesus popularity and opposition? Clearly the former is on the decline and the latter is on the incline! This marks a pivotal turning point in the ministry of Jesus. From here on, the opposition will steadily increase until it ends up nailing His hands and feet to an old rugged Cross. 

And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land - Jesus could hardly be heard if He stayed in the midst of the surging crowd, so to be heard by all He moves to the boat where he would also be able to sit down, taking the posture typical of a rabbi when they were teaching. In many places along the seashore, the hills would rise around the shore and in effect produce a natural amphitheater. In any event, there is no doubt that despite "standing room only" every one was able to hear Jesus' words. It reminds me of the stories of John Whitefield in the days of the first Great Awakening in America where it was not uncommon for him to speak to crowds as large as 20,000 (or even greater) without electronic voice amplification! We do not know how large the crowd was but it is reasonable to speculate that it was many thousands. 


Daniel Akin - It is interesting to notice how often the Bible uses some part of the human body to make an important spiritual observation or illustrate an important biblical truth.

  1. Feet – Romans 10:15, “And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
  2. Hands and Knees – Hebrews 12:12-13, “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.”
  3. Tongue – James 3:6, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.”
  4. Eyes – Matthew 6:22, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.”
  5. Hair – Matthew 10:30, “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.”
  6. Heart – Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
  7. Ears – Mark 4:9, “And he said, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’” (Mark 4:1-20 Sowing the Seed)

Mark 4:2 And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching,

NET  Mark 4:2 He taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching said to them:

GNT  Mark 4:2 καὶ ἐδίδασκεν αὐτοὺς ἐν παραβολαῖς πολλά καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ,

NLT  Mark 4:2 He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

KJV  Mark 4:2 And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine,

ESV  Mark 4:2 And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:

NIV  Mark 4:2 He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said:

ASV  Mark 4:2 And he taught them many things in parables, and said unto them in his teaching,

CSB  Mark 4:2 He taught them many things in parables, and in His teaching He said to them:

NKJ  Mark 4:2 Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching:

NRS  Mark 4:2 He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:

YLT  Mark 4:2 and he taught them many things in similes, and he said to them in his teaching:

NAB  Mark 4:2 And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them,

NJB  Mark 4:2 He taught them many things in parables, and in the course of his teaching he said to them,

GWN  Mark 4:2 He used stories as illustrations to teach them many things. While he was teaching them, he said,

BBE  Mark 4:2 And he gave them teaching about a number of things in the form of stories, and said to them in his teaching, Give ear:

  • parables: Mk 4:11,34 3:23 Ps 49:4 78:2 Mt 13:3,10,34,35 
  • in His: Mk 12:38 Mt 7:28 Joh 7:16,17 18:19 
  • Mark 4 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

TEACHING IN
PARABLES

Mark 4:1-34 contains 4 parables and is the longest teaching section in the Gospel of Mark. 

And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching  Was teaching is the imperfect tense picturing this as His ongoing activity. In Mark Jesus first taught in parables (see below) in Mark 3:23+ using the parables to refute the Pharisees' accusation that He was performing miraculous deeds by the power of Satan. There is a basic difference in His use of parables in Mark 3 and all subsequent parabolic teaching, because in Mark 3 the parables were spoken in such a way that the hearers could clearly understand the meaning.

Beginning here in Mark 4 we see a shift in the way Jesus addresses the crowds, because now parables are given not to reveal but to hide truths from those who not have hearts to hear and receive the truth. As Jesus explained to His disciples "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside (UNBELIEVERS) get everything (HOW MUCH?) in parables." (Mk 4:11+). From now on, only those men and women who have "ears to hear" will be able to understand the deeper meaning of Jesus' parabolic stories. Some would consider this change of teaching style a form of "judicial hardening," meaning that because the crowds refused to receive and respond to His clear teachings, their hearts gradually had hardened to the truth He spoke. It was not Jesus' desire nor intent (cf the heart of God in 2 Pe 3:9+, 1 Ti 2:4), but was more a "commentary" (so to speak) on the hearts of the majority of the Jews who heard "the gracious words which were falling from His lips." (Lk 4:22+) It was a matter their personal choice, but choice always comes "pre-packaged" with consequences which in this case would be their inability to understand Jesus' parables, for the rest of His ministry!

Stated another way, the "paradoxical aspect" of this parable is that Jesus adopts this teaching method in order to prevent some people from understanding His teaching! This begs the question, why even teach if what is taught is not caught? Good question! Jesus elucidates on the reasoning in His later quote from Isaiah, but in brief, He is teaching the multitudes ,but they will not be able to understand because of the hardness of their hearts (Mk 4:12+). A parable then is not to HIDE to  from ALL, but to REVEAL to SOME (in this case the "some" being His disciples and you if you are His disciple - Mk 4:13+)!

THOUGHT - If you are not His disciple, than chances are that you read the Word of God and have little understanding of what you are reading. If that is your experience then you need to examine yourself as Paul commands the Corinthians in 2 Cor 13:5+, because if you are truly born again, then the Father and the Son have given you the gift of the Spirit of Truth Who now lives in you to enable you to understand spiritual truth (cf Jn 14:17, 15:26, 16:13) 

Parables (symbols) (3850)(parabole  from para = beside, near + ballo = throw, cast; English "parable") is literally a throwing beside or placing of one thing by the side of another (juxtaposition as of ships in battle in classic Greek). The metaphorical meaning is to place or lay something besides something else for the purpose of comparison. A spiritual or moral truth would often be expressed by laying it alongside, so to speak, a physical example that could be more easily understood. A common, observable object or practice was used to illustrate a subjective truth or principle. In simple terms something which was well known was verbally "laid alongside" something which was not known in order to explain it. In short the known truth explained the unknown truth. A parable is a way to make abstract truth more concrete, interesting and easier to remember and  apply. Here in Mark 4, Matthew 13 and Luke 8 we see that the parable takes on a different function, in essence hiding the truth from those who do not have ears (hearts) to hear the truth. To His disciples Jesus disclosed the hidden meaning, because their hearts were open to His truth. But to all others the unexplained parable became in effect an impossible riddle whose meaning could not be guessed. (See below for Daniel Akin's summary points on parables). 

A parable is a story that seeks to drive home a point by illustrating it using a familiar situation of common life. A parable is a teaching device in which a principle is concealed and a truth revealed, giving the hearer first sight then insight! It is like a mirror and a window, where we see through to truth about God, but like a mirror it forces us to look at ourselves.  Paul made a similar statement writing that "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.." (1 Cor 2:14+

James Edwards - Parables cannot be understood apart from the one who tells them. Parables are not simply good advice, they are good news; for the life of Jesus is itself a parable, indeed the greatest parable. (PNTC-Mk)

Walter W. Wessel - For centuries parables were interpreted allegorically; i.e., each element of the story was assigned a specific meaning. Thus Augustine found in the parable of the Good Samaritan references to Adam, Jerusalem, the Devil and his angels, the Law and the Prophets, and Christ and the church! Now we are more apt to look for the one main point a parable teaches. This is not to say that all Jesus’ parables have only one point to make. Some clearly have more than one, but the principle is a generally valid one. We have also learned (from Dodd and Jeremias) that the teaching found in the parables is more than general religious truth. It is always related in a dynamic way to Jesus’ message and mission, i.e., to the life situation of his ministry. This does not mean, of course, that the meaning of the parables are bound to the historical and theological situation of first-century Palestine. Like all Scripture, the parables contain truth relevant for God’s people everywhere—those of the twentieth-century world as well as those of the first-century world. (EBC-Mk)

William Lane - With this call Jesus involves his hearers in the situation he describes and leads them to form a judgment upon it. He also warns them that there may be more to the parable than appears upon its surface; there can be a superficial hearing which misses the point. The introduction and conclusion to the parable of the sower set it apart as having special significance. It provides the key to the other parables of growth which follow, as indicated in Ch. 4:13, where Jesus makes understanding of this parable essential to the understanding of any other parable. (NICNT-Mk)

Teaching (verb)(1321)(didasko from dáo= know or teach; English = didactic; see study of related noun didaskalia and the adjective didaktikos) means to provide instruction or information in a formal or informal setting. In the 97 NT uses of didasko the meaning is virtually always to teach or instruct, although the purpose and content of the teaching must be determined from the context. In Scripture to teach means to pass on the truth about the Word of God, the God of the Word and the faith of the saints, with the goal of influencing the understanding and stimulating obedience to the truth taught and resultant Spirit energized transformation and Christ-likeness. The essence of a disciple (mathetes, cp Jesus' clear command in Mt 28:18, 19, 20) in fact is that he or she is a learner, and also a "doer" (cp Jas 1:22+). The teacher teaches and the disciple hears and processes what is heard, so that this truth affects his or her innermost being (i.e., impacting not just the "head" but especially the "heart!"). Ultimately the purpose of didasko is to shape the will of the one taught, to cause it to be conformed to the will of God (cp Ro 12:2+).

Teaching (noun) (1322)(didache from didasko = to give instruction in a formal or informal setting with the highest possible development of the pupil as the goal) is a noun which describes the activity of teaching (instruction). Didache or "the teaching" was that instruction which elucidated the meaning of the facts which were proclaimed. The idea of didache then is to impart knowledge to or instruct someone, for example in how to do something, etc. Teaching or doctrine is that which communicates to another the knowledge of that which heretofore that person was ignorant or ill informed.

Related Resources: Parables


Daniel Akin comments "Parables are the most striking feature of the teaching ministry of Jesus.The popular idea that a parable is “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning” is helpful, but it needs to be expanded. Several observations should be noted before we dive into this first, and perhaps, most important of all the parables.

  1. Parables provide insight into the nature, coming, growth and consummation of the Kingdom of God.
  2. Parables are by design intended to be provocative and surprising. They often sneak up on us.
  3. Parables are used to simulate thinking and cause the hearer to carefully contemplate what they are hearing.
  4. Parables use everyday objects, events and circumstances to illustrate spiritual truth, usually with a new turn or twist.
  5. Parables reveal more truth to those with receptive ears and hides truth from those with dull ears. (This is critical to understanding  Mk 4:10-12)
  6. Parables comprise 35% of all gospel teaching.
  7. Parables usually, but not always, focus on a single truth. Therefore, we should not allegorize them seeking a meaning for every detail.
  8. Ultimately, parables draw attention to Jesus as God’s Messiah and call us to make a personal decision concerning Him. (Mark 4:1-20 Sowing the Seed)

PARABLES OF JESUS

  • The Two Builders (Matthew 7:24–27; Luke 6:46–49)
  • The Sprouting Seed (Mark 4:26–29)
  • The Children of the Marketplace (Matthew 11:16–19; Luke 7:31–32)
  • The Unclean Spirit (Matthew 12:43–45; Luke 11:24–26)
  • Tree and Its Fruit (Matthew 12:33–37; Luke 6:43–45)
  • The Strongman’s House (Matthew 12:29–30; Luke 11:21–23)
  • The Sower and the Seed (Matthew 13:3–9; Mark 4:1–9; Luke 8:4–8)
  • The Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13:24–30)
  • The Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31–32; Mark 4:30–32; Luke 13:18–20)
  • Leaven in the Dough (Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20–21)
  • The Hidden Treasure (Matthew 13:44)
  • The Pearl of Great Price (Matthew 13:45–46)
  • The Dragnet (Matthew 13:47–50)
  • Treasures New and Old (Matthew 13:52 )
  • The Moneylender (Luke 7:41–43)
  • The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–42)
  • The Friend in Need (Luke 11:5–8)
  • The Rich Fool (Luke 12:15–21)
  • The Master’s Return (Luke 12:35–40)
  • The Unfruitful Fig Tree (Luke 13:6–9)
  • The Great Banquet (Luke 14:15–24)
  • The Lost Sheep (Matthew 18:12–14; Luke 15:3–7)
  • The Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:23–34)
  • The Lost Coin (Luke 15:8–10)
  • The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32)
  • The Dishonest Steward (Luke 16:1–8)
  • The Master and His Servant (Luke 17:7–10)
  • The Widow and the Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1–8)
  • The Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1–16)
  • The Wicked Vine Dressers (Matthew 21:33–46; Mark 12:1–12; Luke 20:9–19)
  • The Two Sons (Matthew 21:28–31)
  • The Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1–14)
  • Faithful vs. Wicked Servants (Matthew 24:45–51; Mark 13:32–37; Luke 12:41–48)
  • The Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matthew 25:1–13)
  • The Three Servants and the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30; Luke 19:11–27)
  • The Ten Servants and the Minas (Luke 19:12–27)
  • The Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31–46)
  • [Some consider the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31) to be a parable; others consider it to be a true story that Jesus told.]

Other Parables in the Bible

  • The Poor Man’s Ewe Lamb (2 Samuel 12:1–4)
  • The Poor Wise Man (Ecclesiastes 9:14–18)
  • God’s Vineyard (Isaiah 5:1–6)
  • The Plowman (Isaiah 28:23–29)
  • The Potter (Jeremiah 18:1–10)
  • The Boiling Pot (Ezekiel 24:3–5)
  • The Two Harlots (Ezekiel 23:2–21)
  • The Lion’s Cubs (Ezekiel 19:2–9)
  • The Eagles and the Vine (Ezekiel 17:1–10)

Mark 4:3 “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow;

NET  Mark 4:3 "Listen! A sower went out to sow.

GNT  Mark 4:3 Ἀκούετε. ἰδοὺ ἐξῆλθεν ὁ σπείρων σπεῖραι.

NLT  Mark 4:3 "Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed.

KJV  Mark 4:3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

ESV  Mark 4:3 "Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.

NIV  Mark 4:3 "Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.

ASV  Mark 4:3 Hearken: Behold, the sower went forth to sow:

CSB  Mark 4:3 "Listen! Consider the sower who went out to sow.

NKJ  Mark 4:3 "Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.

NRS  Mark 4:3 "Listen! A sower went out to sow.

YLT  Mark 4:3 'Hearken, lo, the sower went forth to sow;

NAB  Mark 4:3 "Hear this! A sower went out to sow.

NJB  Mark 4:3 'Listen! Imagine a sower going out to sow.

GWN  Mark 4:3 "Listen! A farmer went to plant seed.

BBE  Mark 4:3 A man went out to put seed in the earth:

  • Listen - Mk 4:9,23 7:14,16 De 4:1 Ps 34:11 45:10 Pr 7:24 8:32 Isa 46:3,12 Isaiah 55:1,2 Ac 2:14 Heb 2:1-3 Jas 2:5 Rev 2:7,11,29 
  • there - Mk 4:14,26-29 Eccl 11:6 Isa 28:23-26 Mt 13:3,24,26 Lu 8:5-8 Joh 4:35-38 1Co 3:6-9 
  • Mark 4 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Parallel Passages

Mt 13:3+ “and He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow;

Luke 8:5+ ““The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up.

OPEN YOUR EYES
OPEN YOUR HEART

Listen to this! Behold - Listen is a command in the present imperative calling for His hearers to given continued attention. (See also note on Mark 4:9) This is one where I love the old KJV rendering "Hearken!" An excellent English definition of hearken is "to lend the ear; to attend or give heed to what is uttered; to hear with attention, obedience, or compliance." - With the present tense, Jesus is saying for them to keep on listening/heeding to what I am saying. In other words this is not to be "in one ear and out the other!" (Read similar command by Jesus half-brother James to  "prove [present imperative] yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." James 1:22+). And just to make just He has got their attention He adds behold which is also a command in the aorist imperative calling for the large crowd of pay attention! Do it now! Don't delay!

Wuest adds that "The demand was quite natural, for a summons such as this was necessary if He was to obtain the attention of the crowd on shore while He was speaking from a ship. It was a crowd more interested in coming in contact with the Lord Jesus in order to be healed than in salvation for their souls."

It is interesting to note that Jesus the first word of this parable is listen and the very last word of the parable is also listen (Mk 4:9) and both uses are in the present imperative. Jesus was clearly making the point that it was urgent and important to listen to what He was saying! In fact Jesus' focus on the importance of listen recalls the great "Shema" Israel's foundational confession in Deut 6:4 "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" In the Septuagint the same Greek verb (akouo) is used as here in Mark 4 and is also in the present imperative. The point in the Old Testament cry to "Hear" and Jesus' command in this section is that HEARING is the only way one could understand what God desired from His people, and specifically the only way His hearers could understand His parables. But as the context shows, Jesus was not calling for the Jews to hear "sound waves" simply bouncing off the drum of their ears, but was callling for His "sound waves" be received and transcribed, indeed written on the tablet of their hearts. The hearing He was commanding was in essence a call for heeding what He was saying, listening with receptivity and a heart desire to respond to His words! (cf James 1:22-24+). 

In fact one might even say that listen was a key word in Mark 4 as it occurs 10x (Mk. 4:3; Mk. 4:9; Mk. 4:12; Mk. 4:15; Mk. 4:16; Mk. 4:18; Mk. 4:20; Mk. 4:23; Mk. 4:24; Mk. 4:33), the most concentrated use of listen in Mark's entire gospel. 

Listen - Mk. 2:1; Mk. 2:17; Mk. 3:8; Mk. 3:21; Mk. 4:3; Mk. 4:9; Mk. 4:12; Mk. 4:15; Mk. 4:16; Mk. 4:18; Mk. 4:20; Mk. 4:23; Mk. 4:24; Mk. 4:33; Mk. 5:27; Mk. 6:2; Mk. 6:11; Mk. 6:14; Mk. 6:16; Mk. 6:20; Mk. 6:29; Mk. 6:55; Mk. 7:14; Mk. 7:16; Mk. 7:25; Mk. 7:37; Mk. 8:18; Mk. 9:7; Mk. 10:41; Mk. 10:47; Mk. 11:14; Mk. 11:18; Mk. 12:28; Mk. 12:29; Mk. 12:37; Mk. 13:7; Mk. 14:11; Mk. 14:58; Mk. 14:64; Mk. 15:35; Mk. 16:11; 

Hearing and heeding what Jesus says is important and is reiterated at the end of the parable in Mark 4:9 where Jesus says “He who has ears to hear, let him hear (a command).” And again He alludes to hearing in Mk 4:20+ describing those who "hear the word and accept it." 

THOUGHT - The simple but serious application is "Do you (I) have ears to hear Jesus?" 

This is the only place in the Gospels that Jesus uses these two "attention getters" (listen, behold) in the same sentence! Clearly He wants the crowd to "Listen up!" What He is going to say is very important. In fact many feel that if you cannot understand this parable, you cannot understand the other parables which follow, for as He says to His disciples "Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?" (Mk 4:13+)

Behold(2400)(idou) is the second person singular aorist middle imperative of eidon which means to see, perceive, look at. In the NT idou is used as a demonstrative particle that draws attention to what follows. Idou in the middle voice means "you yourself look, see, perceive!" The aorist imperative is a command emphasizing "Do it now! Don't delay!" Spurgeon reminds us that "Behold is a word of wonder; it is intended to excite admiration. Wherever you see it hung out in Scripture, it is like an ancient sign-board, signifying that there are rich wares within, or like the hands which solid readers have observed in the margin of the older Puritanic books, drawing attention to something particularly worthy of observation." I would add, behold is like a divine highlighter, a divine underlining of an especially striking or important text. It says in effect "Listen up, all ye who would be wise in the ways of Jehovah!"

 
Sowing Seed - Broadcasting it by Hand
(Note the man of far right casting a semi-circle of seed - click to enlarge)

Here is a link to a simple but well done 3 minute animated video of Jesus' Parable of the Sower/Soils, but does not include Jesus' explanation. It would be great to show to the kids before they are discharged to Sunday School as is the pattern in many churches. 

The sower went out to sow - The sower is not identified in this parable, but in context is first Jesus, then His first disciples and finally His future disciples (you and me!) Now if you are in the Jewish crowd, you would say "so far, so good!" In Israel's agrarian society, Jesus' listeners would immediately relate to a parable about a man sowing seed. Everyone was familiar with the picture of the  farmer walking along his plot, sowing seed from his bag of seeds. They understood this much and would also understand His descriptions of the productivity or lack of productivity of the seed in the different soils. The audience understood on the surface, but would not be able to understand the deeper or hidden spiritual truths behind the significance of sowing seed and the response of the different soils. 

James Edwards has an interesting note that "Farming instructions in the Mishnah decreed that farming should be orderly, methodical, and with special care given not to mix seeds (m. Kil. 2:3ff.). But the sowing in Jesus’ parable is far from orderly and methodical; it is profligate, almost wasteful.... So intent is the farmer on a harvest that he sows in every corner of the field “in hopes that good soil might somewhere be found,” said Justin Martyr in his retelling of the parable over a century later (Dial. Trypho 125.1–2). Even so, rocks, thorns, and adverse elements render three-quarters of the labor lost. Those are discouraging odds. But the parable, ironically, does not end on a discouraging note. “Growing, increasing, and bringing forth,” the good soil yields a breathtaking harvest." (PNTC-Mk)

Wessler comments that "Seed was sown in broadcast fashion (v. 3). The sower deliberately sowed it on the path (v. 4), in rocky places (v. 5), and among the thorns (v. 7) because sowing preceded plowing. However, if plowing was delayed for any time at all, the consequences Jesus mentioned inevitably resulted." (EBC-Mk)

Lane adds that "The sower is not careless when he scatters the seed on the path or among the thorns or on ground which has no depth of soil. He does so intentionally, for the path on which the villagers have trodden over the stubble and the thorns which lie withered among the fallow ground will be plowed up to receive the seed. The seed that fell upon the rocky ground was scattered intentionally also, for the underlying limestone thinly covered with topsoil does not show above the surface until the plowing exposes it." (NICNT-Mk)

The sower...to sow ("the sower" - ho speiron)(4687)(speiro from spao = draw out, pull) literally means to scatter (seed) and is the antithesis of reaping or gathering. Speiro is used here in a figurative sense to describe the sowing of the seed of the Word of God, the Gospel ( = "the word of the kingdom" - Mt 13:19+, cp = "the word" - Mk 4:14 15, 16, 18+), "the ideas and precepts that have been implanted like seed in their hearts, ie, received in their hearts (Mk 4:18)." (Thayer). Two uses of speiro in Septuagint metaphorically speak of a sowing evil (Hos 8:7) or sowing righteousness, the point being that like a boomerang, they will return a "harvest" of rotten or righteous fruit. 

Hos 8:7 For they (CONTEXT = NORTHERN KINGDOM) sow the wind and they reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads; It yields no grain. Should it yield, strangers would swallow it up. 

Hos 10:12 Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For (EXPLAINS HOW TO "SOW" RIGHTEOUSNESS!) it is time to seek the LORD until He comes to rain righteousness on you. 13 You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, You have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your way, in your numerous warriors." 

Note the phrase "Break up your fallow ground!" Hard hearts are not hopeless but can be plowed up! Did the Lord have to plow up some things in your life to get your attention before you got saved? That was certainly true in my case (My Testimony of God's Grace) Let’s pray this for our friends who have hard hearts.And for our own hearts when they go through calloused times.

Mark 4:4 as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up.

NET  Mark 4:4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.

GNT  Mark 4:4 καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ σπείρειν ὃ μὲν ἔπεσεν παρὰ τὴν ὁδόν, καὶ ἦλθεν τὰ πετεινὰ καὶ κατέφαγεν αὐτό.

NLT  Mark 4:4 As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it.

KJV  Mark 4:4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

ESV  Mark 4:4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.

NIV  Mark 4:4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

ASV  Mark 4:4 and it came to pass, as he sowed, some seed fell by the way side, and the birds came and devoured it.

CSB  Mark 4:4 As he sowed, this occurred: Some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

NKJ  Mark 4:4 "And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it.

NRS  Mark 4:4 And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

YLT  Mark 4:4 and it came to pass, in the sowing, some fell by the way, and the fowls of the heaven did come and devour it;

NAB  Mark 4:4 And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

NJB  Mark 4:4 Now it happened that, as he sowed, some of the seed fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

GWN  Mark 4:4 Some seeds were planted along the road, and birds came and devoured them.

BBE  Mark 4:4 And while he was doing it, some was dropped by the wayside, and the birds came and took it for food.

  • Mk 4:15 Ge 15:11 Mt 13:4,19 Lu 8:5,12 
  • Mark 4 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Parallel Passages

Mt 13:4+ “and as he sowed, some seeds fell  beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.

Luke 8:5+ ““The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up.


Van Gogh's "The Sower"

As he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road - He did not sow some seed beside the road on purpose, but some seed simply fell in this place he knew would produce no growth. The seed was all of the same kind. In Van Gogh's picture above, note the road (or path) that went through the unfenced field which was hard packed and was where some seed fell. 

And the birds came and ate it up - The seed was on the surface and made an easy meal for the birds. 

Stedman - First, there is what we can call the callous heart. The seed is sown upon the beaten, trodden-down pathway. This represents people whose hearts are busy, who are not open, who have been beaten down so many times they have grown cynical, hardhearted, callous to truth. When the seed hits them, the birds come and gather it up immediately. (Perhaps there are people like that here this morning. You are here not because you wanted to hear the Word but because coming to church is the "right" thing to do. Your hearts are callous and unresponsive, and the Word falls on them as on asphalt.) What does Jesus say about that kind of a life? He says it is strictly for the birds! The seed will be snatched away by Satan before you even have a chance to hear it. C S. Lewis, in his Screwtape Letters, describes a man who goes into a library to read and meditate. His mind is suddenly opened to deep thoughts of God. Confronted with his own standing before God, he starts thinking in terms of his eternal welfare. Then, Lewis says, the demons that are assigned to keep him from discovering truth call his attention to the sounds on the street, to the newsboy calling out the latest news, and to the fact that he is hungry, ready for lunch. And that is all it takes. All thoughts of God disappear, and he is involved in the mundane affairs of life. And, from the point of view of the satanic emissaries, he is delivered from this danger of thinking about God. That is what happens to the callous mind and heart.


What About Your Heart? By: Eric J. Alexander

Mark 4 INTRODUCTION:

In this parable that has become, perhaps, too familiar to us, our Lord begins with divine insight to sketch the true character of the hearts into which the good seed of the Word is going to be known. So Jesus paints the picture, first of the hard heart, then of the shallow heart, then of the divided heart, and lastly of the open heart.

I. THE HARD HEART

“Some seed,” says Jesus, “fell by the wayside.” But the trouble was that the wayside was so exposed to the traffic of the world and the constant comings and goings of the feet of men, that it became over the weeks and months and years as hard as concrete, and no seed ever penetrated.

II. THE SHALLOW HEART
  “Some fell on stony ground”—or ground where there was a thin covering of earth, beneath which was the rock. There are two words in v. 5 and two in v. 6, which sum up the problem. The two words in v. 5 are “no depth,” and the two words in v. 6 are “no root.” If it was, in the first case, a stubborn resistance which was the barrier to the Word, in the second picture it is superficial reception which is the barrier to the Word. If in the first place the seed could not get in, in the second place it could not get down.

III. THE DIVIDED HEART

Here the seed really does get a deep hold, says Jesus; but the trouble is that it is not an undisputed hold. That means that the Word of God is not able to accomplish the purpose that the Holy Spirit means it to accomplish. The seed got in, and it got down, but it could not get room. Everything was set for a fruitful life, was strangled; and that field was ultimately left a wilderness. Are you a barren child of God, with a soul that is a wilderness; have you, through neglect maybe, seen the Word stifled?

IV. THE OPEN HEART

Some seed “fell on good ground, and brought forth… ” And it did so because this good ground is everything that the others are not. Here the seed can get in, and it can get down, and it can get room.


LOSING THE WORD -

As he sowed, some [seed] fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it. Mark 4:4

What a strange sight greeted my gaze as I looked out over the bay. There was old "Pete the pelican" bobbing around on the waves, and perched right on top of his head was a sea gull. Looking more closely I discovered that "Pete" had caught a fish, but its tail was sticking out one side of his huge beak. What a dilemma the old pelican was in! He had gotten his fish, but now to eat it he would have to open his mouth, and sitting right there ready to snatch it as soon as he did so was Mr. Sea Gull. He knew he had "Pete" right where he wanted him.

As I saw the wise old sea gull ready to grab the food from the pelican's mouth, I was reminded of Jesus' parable about the sower and the fact that as some seed fell by the wayside, "the fowls of the air came and devoured it." Jesus explained that this was a picture of Satan's tactics in taking the Word from the hearts of those who, although receiving the message of grace, fail to understand and believe it.

How important it is that we not only "receive" the Word, but also that we study it and meditate upon it. Unless we do so, we are the losers. It is possible for the "seed" to be sown in our hearts, and yet not to take root! How many there are who, having been really blessed by a message, come out of a church service, only to be met by friends who begin at once to talk about the weather, the ball game, business, world conditions—anything and everything but the Word of God which they have heard. And the first thing you know, that which had been received is snatched away, and the precious seed fails to bear fruit. The Psalmist de­clared, "Thy word have I hidden in mine heart . .." (Ps. 119: 11). Remember, when the Word is sown, receive it gladly, medi­tate upon it intently, talk about it to others, memorize it, and then allow it to bring forth fruit in your life! (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

The seed of the Word falls on many a soil,
The fertile, the thorny, the hard;
Lest haply it fruitless in thy heart be sown,
Blest soul, be thou ever on guard.
— H.G.B.

Take heed to the Word; remember,
a man's spirit needs daily food as well as his body!

—Edmund Nelson


Sow What?

He who sows righteousness will have a sure reward. —Proverbs 11:18

Today's Scripture: Mark 4:1-20

On the clock tower of my alma mater is an Art Deco bas-relief sculpture titled The Sower. The inscription beneath it is from Galatians 6:7, “Whatsoever a man soweth.” Michigan State University remains a leader in agricultural research, but despite many improvements in farming techniques and crop production, this fact remains: Seeds of corn will not produce a crop of beans.

Jesus used many farming metaphors to explain the kingdom of God. In the parable of the sower (Mark 4), He compared the Word of God to seeds sown in different types of soil. As the parable indicates, the sower sows indiscriminately, knowing that some seed will fall in places where it will not grow.

Like Jesus, we are to sow good seed in all places at all times. God is responsible for where it lands and how it grows. The important thing is that we sow. God does not want us to reap destruction, so He wants us to sow what is good and right (Prov. 11:18). The apostle Paul elaborated on the metaphor when he warned believers not to sow seeds of corruption. Instead, we are to sow seeds that will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:8).

The answer to the question, “Sow what?” is “Sow what you want to reap.” To reap a good harvest in your life, start sowing seeds of goodness. By:  Julie Ackerman Link   (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Sow a thought, reap an act;
Sow an act, reap a habit;
Sow a habit, reap a character;
Sow a character, reap a destiny.
—Anon.

A buried seed brings fruit;
a selfless life reaps an eternal harvest.


Corn Palace

Some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. —Mark 4:4

Today's Scripture: Mark 4:1-20

The walls of the Mitchell Corn Palace exhibit beautiful murals every year. Scenes include birds in flight, Conestoga wagons heading West, Native American teepees, and rural settings. There is one peculiarity about these murals though—they are made out of corn, seeds, and grasses. The outside murals are replaced each year with a new theme, partly because hungry birds eat from them.

Jesus told a parable about birds and seeds: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it” (Mark 4:3-4). Other seed fell among rocky soil and thorns, making them unfruitful (vv.5-7). But some fell on good ground and yielded an abundant crop (v.8).

Jesus explained that when people by the wayside hear God’s Word, “Satan comes immediately and takes away the Word that was sown in their hearts” (v.15). The devil hates the gospel and seeks to prevent people from believing it. Often he subtly encourages hearers to procrastinate on making a decision or to forget what they have heard. To counter this, in our witnessing we should pray that the Lord of the harvest will cause the Word to take root in receptive hearts. By: Dennis Fisher (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Lord, please use Your Word to touch the hearts of
those with whom we share it. We know that You
are the One who opens the eyes of the spiritually
blind. Don’t let Satan’s schemes win out.

We plant the seed; God gives the harvest.

Mark 4:5 “Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil.

NET  Mark 4:5 Other seed fell on rocky ground where it did not have much soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep.

GNT  Mark 4:5 καὶ ἄλλο ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ τὸ πετρῶδες ὅπου οὐκ εἶχεν γῆν πολλήν, καὶ εὐθὺς ἐξανέτειλεν διὰ τὸ μὴ ἔχειν βάθος γῆς·

NLT  Mark 4:5 Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow.

KJV  Mark 4:5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:

ESV  Mark 4:5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil.

NIV  Mark 4:5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.

ASV  Mark 4:5 And other fell on the rocky ground, where it had not much earth; and straightway it sprang up, because it had no deepness of earth:

CSB  Mark 4:5 Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn't have much soil, and it sprang up right away, since it didn't have deep soil.

NKJ  Mark 4:5 "Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth.

NRS  Mark 4:5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil.

YLT  Mark 4:5 and other fell upon the rocky ground, where it had not much earth, and immediately it sprang forth, because of not having depth of earth,

NAB  Mark 4:5 Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep.

NJB  Mark 4:5 Some seed fell on rocky ground where it found little soil and at once sprang up, because there was no depth of earth;

GWN  Mark 4:5 Other seeds were planted on rocky ground, where there wasn't much soil. The plants sprouted quickly because the soil wasn't deep.

BBE  Mark 4:5 And some went on the stones, where it had not much earth; and it came up straight away, because the earth was not deep:

  • Mk 4:16,17 Eze 11:19 36:26 Ho 10:12 Am 6:12 Mt 13:5,6,20 Lu 8:6,13 
  • Mark 4 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Schematic of Four Soils, Four Results

SHALLOW SOIL
SUDDEN APPEARANCE

Parallel Passages

Mt 13:5+ “Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil.

Luke 8:6+ “Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.

Jesus' Interpretation:

Mark 4:16-17 “In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.

Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil - Other is allo meaning other seed of the same kind. So the seed was not the variable accounting for the amount of fruit produced. The soil was the variable that would determine the productivity of the seed. Rocky ground is not a few rocks scattered with the soil. Imagine a plate or table like expanse of rock which was covered by thin layer of soil, enough soil for the seed to germinate. The footpath in the previous verse obviously had dirt (dust), but was otherwise essentially packed from traffic as hard as rock and provided no bed for seed to germinate. NET adds "The rocky ground in Palestine would be a limestone base lying right under the soil."

And immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil - The heat of the sun hitting the plate of rock stimulated the seed to quickly germinate and the hot stone would induce the plant to prematurely spring upward. In fact the conditions of shallow soil and rock beneath created a hotbed-like effect, for a modern hotbed includes a bed of earth covered with glass and heated by rotting manure to promote the growth of plants, especially used for forcing or for raising seedlings.

Immediately (2117)(euthus) as adverb to mean immediately, right away, at once, without delay or hesitation; with no time intervening. The use of euthus with the meaning of immediately is a key word in the Gospel of Mark 

Stedman - Then there are the impulsive hearts. The seed falls upon them and they immediately respond with joy. The seed takes root and grows up quickly. The trouble is, they respond like this to everything -- food fads, new books, political leaders, whatever popular movement happens to be abroad at the time. As a result, their lives are so shallow that the seed of the life-giving Word cannot take deep root and change them. Consequently, the life which apparently is there withers away and dies. Jesus says that this kind of life is shallow; it cannot stand the heat. When persecution and tribulation come, immediately it is withered. They turn away and lose interest, and cannot abide.

Mark 4:6 “And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

NET  Mark 4:6 When the sun came up it was scorched, and because it did not have sufficient root, it withered.

GNT  Mark 4:6 καὶ ὅτε ἀνέτειλεν ὁ ἥλιος ἐκαυματίσθη καὶ διὰ τὸ μὴ ἔχειν ῥίζαν ἐξηράνθη.

NLT  Mark 4:6 But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn't have deep roots, it died.

KJV  Mark 4:6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

ESV  Mark 4:6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away.

NIV  Mark 4:6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

ASV  Mark 4:6 and when the sun was risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

CSB  Mark 4:6 When the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it didn't have a root, it withered.

NKJ  Mark 4:6 "But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away.

NRS  Mark 4:6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away.

YLT  Mark 4:6 and the sun having risen, it was scorched, and because of not having root it did wither;

NAB  Mark 4:6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots.

NJB  Mark 4:6 and when the sun came up it was scorched and, not having any roots, it withered away.

GWN  Mark 4:6 When the sun came up, they were scorched. They didn't have any roots, so they withered.

  • the sun: Song 1:6 Isa 25:4 Jon 4:8 Jas 1:11 Rev 7:16 
  • no root: Ps 1:3,4 92:13-15 Jer 17:5-8 Eph 3:17 Col 2:7 2Th 2:10 Jude 1:12 
  • Mark 4 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Parallel Passages

Mt 13:6+ “But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

Luke 8:6+ “Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.

 
Shallow Soil & Hot Sun Withers Plant

SHALLOW SOIL AND SUN 
SUDDEN DISAPPEARANCE

And after the sun had risen, it was scorched -  The young plant was scorched by the heat and soon succumbed to the burning heat (and if you have ever been to Israel, you know that the sun can be intense and it is easy for tourists to quickly "wither" and become dangerously dehydrated!) 

Scorched (2739)(kaumatizo from kauma = heat from kaio = to burn) means actively to harm with heat as in Rev 16:8, 9 and passively to describe withering of plants from sun's extreme heat. Not found in Septuagint. Usage: scorch(1), scorched(3). Mt 13:6; Mk 4:6; Rev. 16:8 = " sun, and it was given to it to scorch men with fire"; Rev. 16:9 = "Men were scorched with fierce heat; (NOTE THE TWO EFFECTS) and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory."

And because it had no root, it withered away No root meant no channel to allow the plant to take in moisture as explained in Luke's version (Lk 8:6+)

Withered (dry) (3583)(xeraino from xeros = dry) means to become dry, to dry up. Used in each account of this parable - Mt 13:6, Lk 8:6. 

Mark 4:7 “Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.

NET  Mark 4:7 Other seed fell among the thorns, and they grew up and choked it, and it did not produce grain.

GNT  Mark 4:7 καὶ ἄλλο ἔπεσεν εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας, καὶ ἀνέβησαν αἱ ἄκανθαι καὶ συνέπνιξαν αὐτό, καὶ καρπὸν οὐκ ἔδωκεν.

NLT  Mark 4:7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain.

KJV  Mark 4:7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

ESV  Mark 4:7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.

NIV  Mark 4:7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.

ASV  Mark 4:7 And other fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

CSB  Mark 4:7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it didn't produce a crop.

NKJ  Mark 4:7 "And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.

NRS  Mark 4:7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.

YLT  Mark 4:7 and other fell toward the thorns, and the thorns did come up, and choke it, and fruit it gave not;

NAB  Mark 4:7 Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain.

NJB  Mark 4:7 Some seed fell into thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it produced no crop.

GWN  Mark 4:7 Other seeds were planted among thorn bushes. The thorn bushes grew up and choked them, and they didn't produce anything.

BBE  Mark 4:7 And some went among the thorns, and the thorns came up, and it had no room for growth and gave no fruit.

  • Mk 4:18,19 Ge 3:17,18 Jer 4:3 Mt 13:7,22 Lu 8:7,14 12:15 21:34 1Ti 6:9,10 1Jn 2:15,16 
  • Mark 4 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Parallel Passages

Mt 13:7+ Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.

Mark 4:7+ Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.

Luke 8:7+ Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out.

Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop - Other is allo again emphasizing it is seed of the same kind. The failure to yield a crop was not a seed problem but a soil problem! The thorns infested the ground with their viable roots which would give rise to thorn bushes which would compete with the sprouting seedlings that were beginning to show blades on the surface. The thorns in Israel were not just a few small thistles, but could grow up to 6 feet tall and have a major root system which would literally strangle the roots that might originate from a germinated seed. I have recently had several breakages in plastic pipes in my sprinkler system which were literally caused by tree roots. The verb choked means crowded together and/or pressed upon to the point that the thickly growing thistles and weeds would completely throttle the plant and overwhelm its root system resulting no crop or fruit. And so the second soil is a fruitless plant.

Thorns (173)(akantha from ake = a point, edge) describes a thorn, prickle, thornbush. In Genesis God cursed the land because of Adam's sin declaring "Both thorns (Lxx = akantha) and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field."  Akantha is later used to describe the "crown of thorns" (Mt 27:29) on the One Who became a curse for us! Jesus wore a "crown of thorns" for believers who will one day cast their own crowns to the King of kings!

Choke (4846)see note below on sumpnigo

Crop (fruit) (2590)(karpos) literally refers to fruit, produce or offspring which is produced by the inherent energy of a living organism. In the 3 synoptic accounts of the parable of the sower/soils, karpos is used by Jesus in it literal sense 4 times each time translated as crop but- Mt 13:8+, Mk 4:7, 8+ and Lk 8:8+Karpos is what something produces naturally. But for believers karpos is something God's Spirit does through us supernaturally. Each literal use by Jesus pointed to a figurative meaning of spiritual fruit as indicated by His explanation describing people as unfruitful (akarpos in Mk 4:19+, Mt 13:22+) and as those who bear fruit (karpophoreo in Mk 4:20+, Mt 13:23+).  

Scripture describes 3 general kinds of spiritual fruit: (1) Spiritual attitudes that characterize a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led believer - Gal 5:22-23+ (2) Righteous actions - Ro 6:22+, Php 4:16, 17+; Heb 13:5+ (3) New converts - Ro 16:5+


Stedman - The third condition of heart is represented by the thorns. These are those who hear the Word, but thorns spring up and choke it. This is what we could call the over-involved heart. There are three things Jesus details here which are thorns that choke the life-giving Word:

First, there are cares, i.e., worries concerns. These are people who are concerned all the time over what is going to happen next, worried about the situation they are facing -- fretful, anxious, troubled people who do not know how to rest, how to leave things in God's hands but are constantly trying to work it all out themselves. These people Jesus says, are losing truth. The seed has fallen upon their hearts, but it does not take root because it is choked by the thorns, and they soon lose it.

Second, there are those who delight in riches, who are caught up in the pursuit of wealth, in the Playboy philosophy -- constantly planning for their own amusement and pleasure. That is all that their life consists of. The life-giving Word, which could make a real man or woman out of them, is hitting them, but it cannot find root and grow up. There is no place left in their hearts.

Then there is what Jesus calls "desire for other things," or what we might call "restlessness." These are people who are always shifting from one thing to another. James Michener wrote a book, The Drifters, in which he describes this kind of people, especially young people, who cannot stay in one place long enough to put down roots, but drift from one experience to another. Jesus says they are losing the truth of the delivering Word. They are choked by life. But then there is the receptive heart, the one ready to receive -- open and responsive immediately.

Mark 4:8 “Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”

Wuest - And other (seeds of the same kind) fell on ground that was good, and they kept on yielding fruit, growing up and increasing, and they kept on bearing, (some) up to thirty, and (some) to sixty, and (some) to one hundred. 

NET  Mark 4:8 But other seed fell on good soil and produced grain, sprouting and growing; some yielded thirty times as much, some sixty, and some a hundred times."

GNT  Mark 4:8 καὶ ἄλλα ἔπεσεν εἰς τὴν γῆν τὴν καλὴν καὶ ἐδίδου καρπὸν ἀναβαίνοντα καὶ αὐξανόμενα καὶ ἔφερεν ἓν τριάκοντα καὶ ἓν ἑξήκοντα καὶ ἓν ἑκατόν.

NLT  Mark 4:8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!"

KJV  Mark 4:8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.

ESV  Mark 4:8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold."

NIV  Mark 4:8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times."

ASV  Mark 4:8 And others fell into the good ground, and yielded fruit, growing up and increasing; and brought forth, thirtyfold, and sixtyfold, and a hundredfold.

CSB  Mark 4:8 Still others fell on good ground and produced a crop that increased 30, 60, and 100 times what was sown."

NKJ  Mark 4:8 "But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred."

NRS  Mark 4:8 Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold."

YLT  Mark 4:8 and other fell to the good ground, and was giving fruit, coming up and increasing, and it bare, one thirty-fold, and one sixty, and one an hundred.'

NAB  Mark 4:8 And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."

NJB  Mark 4:8 And some seeds fell into rich soil, grew tall and strong, and produced a good crop; the yield was thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold.'

GWN  Mark 4:8 But other seeds were planted on good ground, sprouted, and produced thirty, sixty, or one hundred times as much as was planted."

BBE  Mark 4:8 And some, falling on good earth, gave fruit, coming up and increasing, and giving thirty, sixty, and a hundred times as much.

  • fell: Mk 4:20 Isa 58:1 Jer 23:29 Mt 13:8,23 Lu 8:8,15 Joh 1:12,13 Joh 3:19-21 7:17 15:5 Ac 17:11 Col 1:6 Heb 4:1,2 Jas 1:19-22 1Pe 2:1-3 
  • hundred: Ge 26:12 Php 1:11 
  • Mark 4 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Parallel Passages

Mt 13:8+ And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.

Luke 8:8+ Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great." As He said these things, He would call out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear

Other seeds fell into the good soil - As the sower would toss out the seed some seed hit the optimal mark, the good soil. Good (kalos) means healthy, sound, fit, advantageous (for producing growth).

And as they grew up and increased - Grew up and increased (only Mark has "grew up and increased") are both in the present tense, picturing a normal steady growth in the plants.

THOUGHT - As an aside, this is a good principle to apply to "newly sprouted" believers who too should be steadily growing up and increasing spiritually.

A natural question is how did plants grow and increase? Jesus does not explain that here, but He does allude to it in His description of the "plant" that withers and the person who falls away. (Mk 4:6, 17) Why do they "wither" and fall away? He says they have no root. No root means no growth. So the root is the key to growth.

THOUGHT - Psalm 1 describes the "root system" of a fruitful believer and the root is intimately linked with the Word of God, for we read 

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.  
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
-- Psalm 1:1-3 (see notes on Ps 1:1Ps 1:2Ps 1:3)

Comment: Notice first that in order to delight in the Word, one needs to dismiss the wooing of the world - don't walk, stand or sit under its evil influence. If you do, you can hardly expect your heart will delight in the Word, but more probably will run from the Word, for it is like a mirror which shows us what kind of man we are! But if we pursuing holiness, we will desire to pursue the Holy Word and thereby we develop our "root system" and supernaturally produce fruit to the glory of God. The person who delights in God’s Word send roots down deep to the river of life. 

We see a similar pattern in 1 Pe 2:1+ and 1 Pe 2:2+

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for (aorist imperative - See discussion of the Need for the Holy Spirit to obey this command) the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow (see auxano below) in respect to salvation.

Comment: Note Peter's verse 1 parallels Psalm 1:1+. Both deal with encumbering sin! We put off these sins by confession and repentance and thereby our appetite is stimulated so that we long for the pure milk of the Word. An "unholy" appetite never longs for holy food! And as we take in the pure milk, we grow in respect to our salvation (progressive sanctification). I consider the inherent principle found in this passage the most important factor in whether a believer will grow in Christlikeness. The "formula" is simple - No intake, no growth. That happens with real babies and sadly that happens with many believers, who simply "snack" on the Bible, "eating" a few verses here and there, sometimes going days with no spiritual intake. Little wonder that so many in the Church in America are spiritually "anemic," which in turn weakens one's immune system to be able (by the Spirit) to resist and abstain from the attacks of the world, the flesh and the devil

Jesus prayed in John 17:17, "Father, sanctify them in the truth. Thy word is truth."

Comment: The "seed" of the Word of God is the means used by the Holy Spirit to progressively set apart God's people, transforming them from glory to glory into the image of Christ (memorize 2 Cor 3:18+) and thereby making them more and more  fruitful (see also progressive sanctification).

Grew up (came up) (305)(anabaino from ana = upwards, up, as a pref. denotes up, again, back + basis = a foot) means to go up, to ascend,  cause to ascend from a lower to a higher place. Anabaino is also used in Mt 13:7 but not of the fruitful plants as here, but of "the thorns (that) came up and choked" the plants.

Increased (837)(auxano) means to cause to grow or cause to become greater in extent, size, state, or quality. As in 1 Peter 2:2 above and other passages auxano is used figuratively to describe spiritual growth. For example, in Paul's great prayer (always a good prayer to pray for one another!) we read "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit (karpophoreo in the present tense describes this as a process, in essence an answer to the prayer) in every good work and increasing (auxano in the present tense and the "divine passive" depicting God's Spirit causing the believer's continual growth) in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously (giving thanks) (Col 1:9-11+)

They yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold - Yielded and produced are both in the vivid imperfect tense signifying "kept on yielding...kept on producing." Notice that every plant yields some fruit. Jesus will later explain that "And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” (Mk 4:20) By way of application every genuine Christian will produce some fruit.

Hiebert observes that "the numbers indicate the increase in grain harvested over the amount of grain sown. The yield, arranged by Mark in an order of climax, varied according to the fertility of the soil. The soil of the plain of Gennesaret, on the northwestern shore of the lake, was prodigiously productive. Josephus enthusiastically called it “the ambition of nature” (Wars 3. 10. 8).While much of the sower’s work seemed to be in vain, the picture presented by the parable was not pessimistic, but realistic. The larger part of the field consisted of good soil where the seed sown produced amazing results" (Gospel of Mark-An Expositional Commentary)

Some writers like William Lane see this yield of a crop in eschatological terms - "The climax of the parable strongly emphasizes the glorious character of the harvest, the thirtyfold, sixtyfold and hundredfold yield, the last of which would be an unusually large harvest. Since this is seen against the background of many obstacles, it is clear that the emphasis does not fall on the enormity of the waste, but on the enormity and splendor of the harvest. The harvest is a common figure for the consummation of the Kingdom of God (cf Joel 3:13+) and in the parable there is a significant reflection on the future, eschatological aspect of the Kingdom: it shall be glorious in character. But in addition to this future aspect there is also significant reflection on the activity prior to harvest, the sowing of the seed and its growth. The action of God must be recognized in these phases as well as in the harvest (ED:cf 1 Cor 3:6). The coming of the Kingdom of God is thus presented in comprehensive terms which call attention both to its present and to its future aspects. A common supposition—shared apparently by John the Baptist, Jesus’ disciples and the multitude—was that the Kingdom of God meant harvest, judgment, consummation. What Jesus taught through the veiled means of the parable of the sower was the relationship between the coming of the Kingdom in his own person and proclamation, and the delay of the end, the harvest, the consummation." (NICNT-Mk)


Ray Stedman's illustration of good soil - I talked this week with a prominent businessman who was passing through this area. He told me about how he became a Christian. He had been raised with no church background at all, and had four different sets of foster parents before he was eighteen. He had tried various philosophies, seeking some answers to the riddle of life. Among them were transcendental meditation and the Eastern religions. None of this satisfied him.

One day a friend invited him to go to church, and he went -- for the first time in his life. The pastor spoke about Christ. Afterward he met the pastor and said to him, "Sir, if I understand you correctly, Christianity is saying that up here is God; down here is man; and in between is Jesus Christ, and that he is the key for man to reach God. Is that right?" The pastor said, "Yes, that's right. In fact, you've accurately described a verse in Scripture which says: 'For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,'" (1 Timothy. 2:5). This man said, "Well, that makes sense to me."

The pastor said, "I've got a book here I'd like you to take home and read. And next week, if you come back and have read it, we'll sit down and talk about it together." The man said to the pastor, "Well, I appreciate that. But tell me: If it is true that Jesus really is the way to God, then why do I have to wait till next week? Why can't I come to him now? If it really works, it will work now; if it doesn't work, it never will." The pastor said, "You're exactly right." So they bowed their heads, and the man received Christ, became a Christian immediately. He received the Word, has grown in grace ever since, and has become a strong testimony for Christ.

That is the responsive heart which is ready to act. It is true not only at the initial stages of Christianity, but whenever the Word falls on us, that the seed is being sown. And areas of our life are either ready to respond, or, like any of the other kinds of soil, reject the truth. This is the way the kingdom of God, the rule of God, comes into our hearts. The great question, then, is: Examine your heart when the Word is being sown. What is it like? What is it like right now?


Good Soil

Read: Mark 4:1-20

Other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased, and produced. —Mark 4:8

John Chrysostom was one of the most captivating preachers of the early Christian church. However, he recognized that even great orators cannot make everyone listen.

Chrysostom noted, “My preaching is addressed to all . . . , but it is the duty of each one of my listeners to take what is suited for his affliction. I do not know who are sick, who are healthy. Therefore, I discuss subjects of every sort and suited to every illness.”

In Mark 4, the parable of the sower and the soils teaches the importance of how we respond to the Word of God. It tells us that the success or failure of a crop isn’t necessarily in the skill of the farmer or in the power of the seed, but in the quality of the soil.

Some listeners are like rich soil, and the message takes root in their heart. Other audiences resemble the church parking lot, and the seed simply bounces off them. Still others are like a weed patch that chokes potential growth.

Preaching is not “the fine art of talking in someone else’s sleep.” We need to “drink in” the teaching of the Word just as the sick need medicine or as crops need rain. That’s why Jesus urged, “Take heed what you hear” (v.24). Whether or not you benefit from a sermon is largely up to you. By Haddon W. Robinson (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

As planted seed in fertile soil
Has life and will take root,
God’s Word, if nurtured in our hearts,
Will grow and bring forth fruit.
—Hess

In good soil, the seed takes root and will soon bear fruit.

Mark 4:9 And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  

Wuest -  And He was saying, He who has ears to be hearing, let him be hearing.

NET  Mark 4:9 And he said, "Whoever has ears to hear had better listen!"

GNT  Mark 4:9 καὶ ἔλεγεν, Ὃς ἔχει ὦτα ἀκούειν ἀκουέτω.

NLT  Mark 4:9 Then he said, "Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand."

KJV  Mark 4:9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

ESV  Mark 4:9 And he said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

NIV  Mark 4:9 Then Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

ASV  Mark 4:9 And he said, Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

CSB  Mark 4:9 Then He said, "Anyone who has ears to hear should listen!"

NKJ  Mark 4:9 And He said to them, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

NRS  Mark 4:9 And he said, "Let anyone with ears to hear listen!"

YLT  Mark 4:9 And he said to them, 'He who is having ears to hear -- let him hear.'

NAB  Mark 4:9 He added, "Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear."

NJB  Mark 4:9 And he said, 'Anyone who has ears for listening should listen!'

GWN  Mark 4:9 He added, "Let the person who has ears listen!"

BBE  Mark 4:9 And he said to them, Whoever has ears, let him give ear.

  • Mk 4:3,23,24 Mk 7:14,16 Mt 11:15 13:9 15:10 Lu 8:18 Rev 3:6,13,22 
  • Mark 4 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

JESUS CALLS FOR
"SPIRITUAL EARS"

And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  (Mt 13:9+, Lk 8:8+) - Who has ears? Everyone. But Jesus is not speaking solely of physical ears, but of "spiritual ears." This translation almost sounds like a proverb, suggesting it is a good idea to hear. More literally this is a command from Jesus because let him hear is in the present imperative. Jesus is not just saying take in the "sound waves!" He is saying make sure you accurately interpret the "sound waves" and respond obediently and without hesitation to the "sound waves!" As Jesus' half-brother James would later write "But prove (present imperative) yourselves doers (poietes) of the word, and not merely hearers (akroates) who delude (paralogizomai - present tense continually deceiving by false reasoning) themselves.." (James 1:22+). While I realize this command of Jesus was spoken Pre-Pentecost and so the Spirit was not yet indwelling believers as He is now in the Church Age (Ro 8:9+), (in my opinion) the principle still applies that for one to "hearken" to Jesus' command calling for supernatural action ("audition"), he or she can only do so by learning to (1) jettison self-reliance and (2) rely wholly on the Holy Spirit to provide the enabling power to "listen up" and obey accordingly! Notice James' parallel passage where he commands us to be "doers." This charge begs the question "Can we do anything supernatural in our own power?" Not really! Jesus amplifies this vitally important principle declaring "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me (AND TODAY THAT MEANS APART FROM RELYING ON THE ONE HE SENT TO BE OUR "HELPER" OR "ENABLER," THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST!) you can do (GREEK = ABSOLUTELY) nothing (OF ETERNAL VALUE OR SPIRITUAL FRUIT THAT "REMAINS" - Jn 15:16)." (Jn 15:5) .

I like the NET Note - The translation "had better listen!" captures the force of the third person imperative more effectively than the traditional "let him hear," which sounds more like a permissive than an imperative to the modern English reader. This was Jesus' common expression to listen and heed carefully (cf. Matt 11:15, 13:43; Mark 4:9, 23; Luke 8:8, 14:35). 

Moule paraphrases it: “Now think that one out for yourself, if you can!”

Hiebert - a call found here in all the synoptics, marking the special importance of the parable. It was more than a pleasant story; it set forth truth that required serious consideration. It called for attention as well as discernment. The present imperative pressed upon the hearers their continuing duty to hear and heed what was taught. Jesus placed serious responsibility upon the hearer of the Word of God. Effective communication makes its demands upon the hearer as well as the speaker. (Ibid)

William Lane - With the concluding admonition, “If you have ears to hear, then hear,” Jesus indicates that there is more to this story than appears on the surface. That is why it is “a parable.” (NICNT-Mk)

Spurgeon rightly said "There are many, who have ears, who do not hear to any real purpose. There is the physical act of hearing, but they do not hear in the heart and the mind. It is a very different thing to have an impression on the drum of the ear and to have an impression on the tablet of the heart. “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

Mark 4:10 As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. 

NET  Mark 4:10 When he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables.

GNT  Mark 4:10 Καὶ ὅτε ἐγένετο κατὰ μόνας, ἠρώτων αὐτὸν οἱ περὶ αὐτὸν σὺν τοῖς δώδεκα τὰς παραβολάς.

NLT  Mark 4:10 Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant.

KJV  Mark 4:10 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.

ESV  Mark 4:10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables.

NIV  Mark 4:10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.

ASV  Mark 4:10 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parables.

CSB  Mark 4:10 When He was alone with the Twelve, those who were around Him asked Him about the parables.

NKJ  Mark 4:10 But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable.

NRS  Mark 4:10 When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables.

YLT  Mark 4:10 And when he was alone, those about him, with the twelve, did ask him of the simile,

NAB  Mark 4:10 And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables.

NJB  Mark 4:10 When he was alone, the Twelve, together with the others who formed his company, asked what the parables meant.

GWN  Mark 4:10 When he was alone with his followers and the twelve apostles, they asked him about the stories.

BBE  Mark 4:10 And when he was by himself, those who were round him with the twelve put questions to him about the purpose of the stories.

  • Mk 4:34 Mk 7:17 Pr 13:20 Mt 13:10-17,36 Lu 8:9-15 
  • Mark 4 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Parallel Passages:

Matthew 13:10+ And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”

Luke 8:9+ His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant

As soon as He was alone - This detail is found only in Mark's version. NLT says "Later when Jesus was alone." This time phrase indicates a "chronological break in the account of the parables taught during this day" (Hiebert). " Alone is monos (English - monopoly, monogamy, etc) which means without accompaniment, isolated from others, in this case isolated from the crowds. One is amazed that Jesus could even achieve this degree of solitude given the crowds. Hiebert says "It was apparently after the termination of the public ministry from the boat." We do know that after Jesus finished telling the parable of the tares "He left the crowds and went into the house." (Mt 13:36+) Did He also go into the house after the parable of the soils? While that is possible, we don't know for certain. 

His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables - His followers is more literally "those about Him." Notice the phrase along with the twelve indicates that this group of followers consisted of more than just the twelve disciples. "These followers are here distinguished from the larger crowd of uncommitted hearers as well as the Twelve." (Hiebert) Some writers may be correct in surmising that the disciples were too embarrassed to ask questions in public. Began asking is in the imperfect tense picturing them asking over and over which makes it obvious they did not understand the parable. Notice that parables is in the plural which would indicate that Jesus had spoken more than just the parable of the soils. 

Notice also that in the two parallel passages, there are two questions, (1) why speak in parables (Mt 13:10) and (2) what is the meaning of the parable (Lk 8:9). Mark's phrase began asking encompasses both the "why" and the "what" questions. 

Darrell Bock quips that "After Jesus tells the story, the disciples ask why he is resorting to parables. They know him well enough to recognize that this is not a lesson in agriculture for a 4H class or a polytechnic school." (Luke 8:4-9:17 Call to Faith and Christology)

Mark 4:11 And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables,

NET  Mark 4:11 He said to them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those outside, everything is in parables,

GNT  Mark 4:11 καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς, Ὑμῖν τὸ μυστήριον δέδοται τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ θεοῦ· ἐκείνοις δὲ τοῖς ἔξω ἐν παραβολαῖς τὰ πάντα γίνεται,

NLT  Mark 4:11 He replied, "You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders,

KJV  Mark 4:11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

ESV  Mark 4:11 And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables,

NIV  Mark 4:11 He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables

ASV  Mark 4:11 And he said unto them, Unto you is given the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all things are done in parables:

CSB  Mark 4:11 He answered them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those outside, everything comes in parables

NKJ  Mark 4:11 And He said to them, "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables,

NRS  Mark 4:11 And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables;

YLT  Mark 4:11 and he said to them, 'To you it hath been given to know the secret of the reign of God, but to those who are without, in similes are all the things done;

NAB  Mark 4:11 He answered them, "The mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables,

NJB  Mark 4:11 He told them, 'To you is granted the secret of the kingdom of God, but to those who are outside everything comes in parables,

GWN  Mark 4:11 Jesus replied to them, "The mystery about the kingdom of God has been given directly to you. To those on the outside, it is given in stories:

BBE  Mark 4:11 And he said to them, To you is given the secret of the kingdom of God, but to those who are outside, all things are given in the form of stories; 

  • To you has been given - Mt 11:25 13:11,12,16 16:17 Lu 8:10 10:21-24 1Co 4:7 2Co 4:6 Eph 1:9 2:4-10 Tit 3:3-7 Jas 1:16-18 1Jn 5:20 
  • but those who are outside - 1Co 5:12,13 Col 4:5 1Th 4:12 1Ti 3:7 
  • get everything in parables - Mt 13:13 
  • Mark 4 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

DISCIPLES "INITIATED"
INTO THE MYSTERY

And He was saying to them - Was saying is in the imperfect tense which can mean Jesus was saying it over and over (perhaps they missed it the first time!). 

To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God - To you is emphatic which clearly distinguishes these from those who are outside. Has been given is in the perfect tense meaning it was given (revealed) at the time of their "initiation" in the past and has ongoing or present results. It includes the idea of permanency, so that now the disciples were permanent possessors of the secret of the Kingdom of God. Although they understood, they did not have full understanding, but that would come progressively over time. 

Wuest explains that "The mystery is not in the fact that they are difficult of interpretation, but that they are impossible of interpretation until their meaning is revealed, when they become plain. The disciples had been initiated into these secret things."

Barclay - When the New Testament talks of the mystery of the Kingdom, it does not mean that the Kingdom is remote and abstruse and hard to understand; but it does mean that it is quite unintelligible to the man who has not given his heart to Jesus, and that only the man who has taken Jesus as Master and Lord can understand what the Kingdom of God means. (Barclay's Daily Study Bible)

Mystery (3466)(musterion - see extensive discussion from mustes = one initiated [e.g. "mystery" religions] from mueo = to close or shut) in the NT is a truth never previously known (or only partially known) which human intellect could never discover, which has now been made known by divine revelation. It describes “the secret counsels of God which are hidden from the ungodly but when revealed to the godly, are understood by them.” This Greek word does not carry the connotation it has today as when we talk of a mystery novel.  A mystery in the Bible is a truth which man cannot know by his natural powers, but must be supernaturally revealed. In Paul's day musterion was a technical term utilized by the "mystery religions" which referred to a secrets concealed by strange customs and ceremonies and confided only to those initiated into the "mystery cult".  The mystery-religions had their secrets and signs as modern secret societies have today. Those initiated into these pagan cults, knew these secret signs. 

but those who are outside get everything in parables - Those who are outside (tois exo) means outside the inner circle with Jesus. E.g. in Colossians Paul uses this same phrase (tous exo) commanding saint "Conduct (present imperative) yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders (literally "those outside" - tous exo - in context unbelievers), making the most of the opportunity (kairos - a slot of time, the "door" of which may close at any time! Redeem the Time!)" (Col 4:5+).

THOUGHT - As I wrote about those who are outside, I became convicted and overwhelmed with the truth of the reality that because of the gracious gift of the new birth, I am on the inside (as are all of you dear brothers or sisters in Christ), in the inner circle in an eternal covenant with Christ. Do we really grasp the privilege that God has granted each of us by "initiating us" (baptizing us) into Christ and into the mysteries of His glorious Kingdom? I fear not (speaking for myself)! "Now we see in a mirror dimly...now I know in part." (1 Cor 13:12)  O, how the breadth  and length and height and depth of this great truth should stir in our souls a deep love for Christ, a passion for the Father's purposes, and a strong Spirit wrought desire to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against our souls!  

Let our unceasing prayer be "that the eyes of our heart may be enlightened, so that we will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe....Now to Him Who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power (HIS SPIRIT) that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen". (Eph 1:18, 19+. Eph 3:20, 21+)

Mark 4:12 so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN.”

NET  Mark 4:12 so that although they look they may look but not see, and although they hear they may hear but not understand, so they may not repent and be forgiven."

GNT  Mark 4:12 ἵνα βλέποντες βλέπωσιν καὶ μὴ ἴδωσιν, καὶ ἀκούοντες ἀκούωσιν καὶ μὴ συνιῶσιν, μήποτε ἐπιστρέψωσιν καὶ ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς.

NLT  Mark 4:12 so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: 'When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say, they will not understand. Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven.' "

KJV  Mark 4:12 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.

ESV  Mark 4:12 so that "they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven."

NIV  Mark 4:12 so that, " 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!' "

ASV  Mark 4:12 that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest haply they should turn again, and it should be forgiven them.

CSB  Mark 4:12 so that they may look and look, yet not perceive; they may listen and listen, yet not understand; otherwise, they might turn back-- and be forgiven."

NKJ  Mark 4:12 "so that`Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them.'"

NRS  Mark 4:12 in order that 'they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.'"

YLT  Mark 4:12 that seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand, lest they may turn, and the sins may be forgiven them.'

NAB  Mark 4:12 so that 'they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.'"

NJB  Mark 4:12 so that they may look and look, but never perceive; listen and listen, but never understand; to avoid changing their ways and being healed.'

GWN  Mark 4:12 'They see clearly but don't perceive. They hear clearly but don't understand. They never return to me and are never forgiven.'"

BBE  Mark 4:12 So that seeing they may see, and it will not be clear to them; and hearing it, they will not get the sense; for fear that they may be turned again to me and have forgiveness.

  • That seeing - De 29:4 Isa 6:9,10 44:18 Jer 5:21 Mt 13:14,15 Lu 8:10 Joh 12:37-41 Ac 28:25-27 Ro 11:8-10 
  • be converted - Jer 31:18-20 Eze 18:27-32 Ac 3:19 2Ti 2:25 Heb 6:6 
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so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN.”

Mark 4:13 And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? ar fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” 

NET  Mark 4:13 He said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? Then how will you understand any parable?

GNT  Mark 4:13 Καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Οὐκ οἴδατε τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην, καὶ πῶς πάσας τὰς παραβολὰς γνώσεσθε;

NLT  Mark 4:13 Then Jesus said to them, "If you can't understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables?

KJV  Mark 4:13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?

ESV  Mark 4:13 And he said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?

NIV  Mark 4:13 Then Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?

ASV  Mark 4:13 And he saith unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how shall ye know all the parables?

CSB  Mark 4:13 Then He said to them: "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any of the parables?

NKJ  Mark 4:13 And He said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?

NRS  Mark 4:13 And he said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables?

YLT  Mark 4:13 And he saith to them, 'Have ye not known this simile? and how shall ye know all the similes?

NAB  Mark 4:13 Jesus said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables?

NJB  Mark 4:13 He said to them, 'Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables?

GWN  Mark 4:13 Jesus asked them, "Don't you understand this story? How, then, will you understand any of the stories I use as illustrations?

BBE  Mark 4:13 And he said to them, If you are not clear about this story, how will you be clear about the others?

  • Know - Mk 7:17,18 Mt 13:51,52 15:15-17 16:8,9 Lu 24:25 1Co 3:1,2 Heb 5:11-14 Rev 3:19 
  • Mark 4 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

This is peculiar to Mark.

And He *said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? ar fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”

Mark 4:14 “The sower sows the word.

NET  Mark 4:14 The sower sows the word.

GNT  Mark 4:14 ὁ σπείρων τὸν λόγον σπείρει.

NLT  Mark 4:14 The farmer plants seed by taking God's word to others.

KJV  Mark 4:14 The sower soweth the word.

ESV  Mark 4:14 The sower sows the word.

NIV  Mark 4:14 The farmer sows the word.

ASV  Mark 4:14 The sower soweth the word.

CSB  Mark 4:14 The sower sows the word.

NKJ  Mark 4:14 "The sower sows the word.

NRS  Mark 4:14 The sower sows the word.

YLT  Mark 4:14 He who is sowing doth sow the word;

NAB  Mark 4:14 The sower sows the word.

NJB  Mark 4:14 What the sower is sowing is the word.

GWN  Mark 4:14 "The farmer plants the word.

BBE  Mark 4:14 The seed is the word.

  • sower - Mk 4:3 Isa 32:20 Mt 13:19,37 Lu 8:11 
  • the word - Mk 2:2 Col 1:5,6 1Pe 1:23-25 
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ARE YOU A SOWER
OF THE WORD?

The sower sows the word - The sower is whoever sows the word. And this should ideally be everyone who is a follower of Christ. We who are now saved eternally should be motivated and have a passionate desire so sow the word, the seed of the Gospel of Christ (Ro 15:19+. 2 Cor 2:12, 9:13, 10:14, Php 1:27, 1 Th 3:2). Note that sows is in the present tense signifying the sower  continually sows the word

Luke's parallel tells us that "the seed is the word of God." (Lk 8:11+).

Peter describes the life changing potential of the the word writing to the believers scattered as aliens (1 Pe 1:1+) explaining "for you have been born again not of SEED which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring WORD OF GOD. For, “ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF,  BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” And this is THE WORD which was preached to you. (1 Pe 1:23-25+)

Paul describes the inherent, intrinsic power of the WORD writing to the Colossians "because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the WORD OF TRUTH, THE GOSPEL which has come to you (BY THE SOWER!), just as in all the world also it (THE WORD) is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it (THE WORD) has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it (THE WORD) and understood the grace of God in truth (Col 1:5,6+). 

Mark 4:15 “These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.

NET  Mark 4:15 These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: Whenever they hear, immediately Satan comes and snatches the word that was sown in them.

GNT  Mark 4:15 οὗτοι δέ εἰσιν οἱ παρὰ τὴν ὁδόν· ὅπου σπείρεται ὁ λόγος καὶ ὅταν ἀκούσωσιν, εὐθὺς ἔρχεται ὁ Σατανᾶς καὶ αἴρει τὸν λόγον τὸν ἐσπαρμένον εἰς αὐτούς.

NLT  Mark 4:15 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away.

KJV  Mark 4:15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.

ESV  Mark 4:15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.

NIV  Mark 4:15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.

ASV  Mark 4:15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; and when they have heard, straightway cometh Satan, and taketh away the word which hath been sown in them.

CSB  Mark 4:15 These are the ones along the path where the word is sown: when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word sown in them.

NKJ  Mark 4:15 "And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.

NRS  Mark 4:15 These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.

YLT  Mark 4:15 and these are they by the way where the word is sown: and whenever they may hear, immediately cometh the Adversary, and he taketh away the word that hath been sown in their hearts.

NAB  Mark 4:15 These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them.

NJB  Mark 4:15 Those on the edge of the path where the word is sown are people who have no sooner heard it than Satan at once comes and carries away the word that was sown in them.

GWN  Mark 4:15 Some people are like seeds that were planted along the road. Whenever they hear the word, Satan comes at once and takes away the word that was planted in them.

BBE  Mark 4:15 And these are they by the wayside, where the word is planted; and when they have given ear, the Evil One comes straight away and takes away the word which has been planted in them.

  • these - Mk 4:4 Ge 19:14 Isa 53:1 Mt 22:5 Lu 8:12 14:18,19 Ac 17:18-20,32 18:14-17 25:19,20 26:31,32 Heb 2:1 12:16 
  • Satan - Job 1:6-12 Zec 3:1 Mt 13:19 Ac 5:3 2Co 2:11 4:3,4 2Th 2:9 1Pe 5:8 Rev 12:9 20:2,3,7,10 
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HARD SOIL

These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown;

And when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them - Note two "time phrases" in this sentence, when and immediately, which sum up the strategy of the Adversary who prowls around like a roaring lion (he is not omnipresent, to his underling evil spirits harass human beings) seeking whom he would devour. (1 Pe 5:8). Picture the seed of the Word, the Gospel, sown and with not time intervening, it is gone, lifted up, carried away, taken away for the soil of the heart. Make no mistake Satan is efficient like a bird. If you watch the birds, their eye is keen and quick to pounce on a morsel of food, even when extremely small. So too does Satan. The question is how does he do this? See notes by John Piper below on three strategies of Satan to take the Word away as derived from the description of the three fruitless soils.

Immediately (2117)(euthus) as adverb to mean immediately, right away, at once, without delay or hesitation; with no time intervening. The use of euthus with the meaning of immediately is a key word in the Gospel of Mark 

Rich Cathers on how Satan takes away the Word - One of the ways the enemy steals the seed is through the insidious lies the world has told us: (1) “The Bible is just a bunch of made-up stories” (2) “Jesus was not a real person” (ED: Or one I hear a lot - "Jesus never claimed to be God.") (3) “We are all products of evolution, there is no God who created everything” (ED: THANK YOU CHARLES DARWIN!) When a person has swallowed some of these lies, it’s easy for them to just blow it off when they hear that God loved them so much that He gave His Son to die for them.

Satan's Strategies to take away the Word 
John Piper

There are two other kinds of soil where the Word bears no fruit. There is the rocky ground in Mk 4:16 and the thorny ground in Mk 4:18. Jesus doesn't mention Satan in connection with these. But we know from other teachings in the New Testament that Satan is very much at work in these soils to nullify the Word of God and make the hearers fruitless. So there are really three strategies (at least!) by which Satan takes away the Word. Let's look at each briefly.

1. Immediately—with Inattention, Ill-Will, or Ignorance

In Mk 4:15 it says that he does it immediately. He does it before there is any sympathetic response at all. "Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which is sown in them." I can think of at least three ways this happens. It happens through people's inattention, ill-will, or ignorance.

Satan works overtime to keep people from giving serious attention to the Word of God. He may keep you up late Saturday night so that you can't stay awake during the sermon or Sunday School. He may put a dozen different distractions around you in the service to take your mind away from the message. He may send thoughts into your mind (ED: Eph 6:16b+ Note the antidote/defense is found in the first clause in this same verse!) about tomorrow's meeting with your supervisor. If he can only distract you so that the sounds coming out of the preacher's mouth go in one ear and out the other, he will have successfully taken away the Word of God and made it ineffectual for you (ED: cf James 1:25+ = contrast "forgetful hearer but an effectual doer"). Inattention is his game. (ED: disregard; heedlessness; neglect; ATTENTION  is the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things. Attention has also been referred to as the allocation of processing resources.).

He also uses ill-will. (ED: a hostile, very unfriendly, disposition, enmity, dislike) He causes feelings of aversion to block the Word. These feelings might be against the preacher or against his language or simply against the truths of the gospel. People may hear and understand exactly what is being said, but despise it. Paul said the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing (ED: 1 Cor 1:18). Satan works to maintain their worldly sense of values so that the value of the death of Christ is as nothing. Satan gives people such a high estimation of themselves that the evangelical message of brokenness before the cross for our sin is disgusting and threatening. So the Word of God gains no foothold. Satan takes it away.

Satan also uses ignorance. The work of Satan can be so thorough that his servants can actually lose the capacity to grasp what is being said well enough even to get angry about it. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:3–4, "Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God." When the glory of God is described, Satan blinds the eyes of his people so that they wonder what in the world is going on when spiritual people are deeply affected by this glory. Thus Satan takes away the Word of God.

2. Eventually—with Shallow Soil and Persecution

But Satan's battle against the Word is not just directed against that first hearing of the Word. Even after a person has heard the Word and received it with joy, Satan does his best to take it away and bring the person to fruitlessness and ruin. Mark 4:16–17 describe this attack. "And these in like manner are the ones sown upon rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away."

The reason I feel confident in saying that this too is the work of Satan, even though Jesus doesn't mention him here, is that persecution is mentioned and this is a key strategy of Satan elsewhere in the New Testament. For example, when Paul heard that the Thessalonian Christians were being persecuted, he chalked it up to the devil and said, "For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent that I might know your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and that our labor would be in vain." (1 Th 3:5+) It's clear that Paul saw persecution as a work of Satan that could destroy the gospel labor he had expended. In other words, the Word could be taken away.

Just because Satan is not able to keep everyone from responding joyfully to the Word of God, doesn't mean he gives up on those people. He brings many of them to ruin by keeping their soil shallow and battering them with hard times so that they fall for the lie that the Word of God is not worth the trouble it brings. And so Satan takes away the Word of God even after it has gained a little toehold.

3. Eventually—with Prosperity

If persecution doesn't look like it will work, Satan will try prosperity. This is his third strategy for taking away the Word and making people fruitless. Verses 18–19 describe this strategy: "And others are the ones sown among thorns; they are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the deceit of riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful."

Ephesians 2:2–3+ teaches that when people follow Satan they are not dragged along against their desires, but are giving in to their ungodly desires. Satan takes away the Word by making us feel that if we hold fast to the Word, we will have to give up something better. He is the great deceiver. And in America he majors not on soil 2 but on soil 3. He doesn't snatch the Word as much by the threat of persecution (ED: AS IN PLACES LIKE INDIA AND MUSLIM NATIONS WHERE A PERSON'S LIFE MAY BE AT STAKE IF THEY RECEIVE THE WORD OF THE GOSPEL!) as by the deceptive promise that things will go better if you don't get fanatical about the Word of God. And so thousands of people who had made a start with the Word of God give in to his lies and have the Word choked out of their lives.

In summary, Satan has three strategies to take away the Word of God.

  1. First, he often acts immediately as soon as the Word is heard to make people inattentive, or cause them to feel ill-will, or to simply be so ignorant of spiritual reality they can't grasp what's being said.
  2. Second, he comes in after the Word has been received with joy and attacks it with hard times. He convinces some that holding fast to the Word is not worth the trouble.
  3. Third, he comes in where the Word has begun to take root and strangles it with the lie that too many good things are being sacrificed. (Read the rest of Dr Piper's message as he discusses 3 strategies to fight the enemy's 3 strategies).

Mark 4:16 “In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;

NET  Mark 4:16 These are the ones sown on rocky ground: As soon as they hear the word, they receive it with joy.

GNT  Mark 4:16 καὶ οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ ἐπὶ τὰ πετρώδη σπειρόμενοι, οἳ ὅταν ἀκούσωσιν τὸν λόγον εὐθὺς μετὰ χαρᾶς λαμβάνουσιν αὐτόν,

NLT  Mark 4:16 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.

KJV  Mark 4:16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;

ESV  Mark 4:16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy.

NIV  Mark 4:16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.

ASV  Mark 4:16 And these in like manner are they that are sown upon the rocky places, who, when they have heard the word, straightway receive it with joy;

CSB  Mark 4:16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, immediately they receive it with joy.

NKJ  Mark 4:16 "These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness;

NRS  Mark 4:16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy.

YLT  Mark 4:16 'And these are they, in like manner, who on the rocky ground are sown: who, whenever they may hear the word, immediately with joy do receive it,

NAB  Mark 4:16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy.

NJB  Mark 4:16 Similarly, those who are sown on patches of rock are people who, when first they hear the word, welcome it at once with joy.

GWN  Mark 4:16 Other people are like seeds that were planted on rocky ground. Whenever they hear the word, they accept it at once with joy.

BBE  Mark 4:16 And in the same way, these are they who are planted on the stones, who, when the word has come to their ears, straight away take it with joy;

  • which - Mk 6:20 10:17-22 Eze 33:31,32 Mt 8:19,20 13:20,21 Lu 8:13 Joh 5:35 Ac 8:13,18-21 24:25,26 26:28 
  • Mark 4 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

ROCKY SOIL:
SHALLOW

In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places - There is a thin layer of soil but immediately beneath is bedrock, not just a few rocks mixed in with dirt. 

Who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy 

Immediately (2117euthus

Mark 4:17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.

NET  Mark 4:17 But they have no root in themselves and do not endure. Then, when trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately they fall away.

GNT  Mark 4:17 καὶ οὐκ ἔχουσιν ῥίζαν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἀλλὰ πρόσκαιροί εἰσιν, εἶτα γενομένης θλίψεως ἢ διωγμοῦ διὰ τὸν λόγον εὐθὺς σκανδαλίζονται.

NLT  Mark 4:17 But since they don't have deep roots, they don't last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God's word.

KJV  Mark 4:17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.

ESV  Mark 4:17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

NIV  Mark 4:17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

ASV  Mark 4:17 and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, straightway they stumble.

CSB  Mark 4:17 But they have no root in themselves; they are short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, they immediately stumble.

NKJ  Mark 4:17 "and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word's sake, immediately they stumble.

NRS  Mark 4:17 But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

YLT  Mark 4:17 and have not root in themselves, but are temporary; afterward tribulation or persecution having come because of the word, immediately they are stumbled.

NAB  Mark 4:17 But they have no root; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

NJB  Mark 4:17 But they have no root deep down and do not last; should some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, at once they fall away.

GWN  Mark 4:17 But they don't develop any roots. They last for a short time. When suffering or persecution comes along because of the word, they immediately fall from faith.

BBE  Mark 4:17 And they have no root in themselves, but go on for a time; then, when trouble comes or pain, because of the word, they quickly become full of doubts.

  • have - Mk 4:5,6 Job 19:28 27:8-10 Mt 12:31 Lu 12:10 Joh 8:31 15:2-7 2Ti 1:15 2:17,18 4:10 1Jn 2:19 
  • when - Mt 11:6 13:21 24:9,10 1Co 10:12,13 Ga 6:12 1Th 3:3-5 2Ti 4:16 Heb 10:29 Rev 2:10,13 
  • Mark 4 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.

Mark 4:18 “And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word,

NET  Mark 4:18 Others are the ones sown among thorns: They are those who hear the word,

GNT  Mark 4:18 καὶ ἄλλοι εἰσὶν οἱ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας σπειρόμενοι· οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ τὸν λόγον ἀκούσαντες,

NLT  Mark 4:18 The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God's word,

KJV  Mark 4:18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,

ESV  Mark 4:18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word,

NIV  Mark 4:18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word;

ASV  Mark 4:18 And others are they that are sown among the thorns; these are they that have heard the word,

CSB  Mark 4:18 Others are sown among thorns; these are the ones who hear the word,

NKJ  Mark 4:18 "Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word,

NRS  Mark 4:18 And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word,

YLT  Mark 4:18 'And these are they who toward the thorns are sown: these are they who are hearing the word,

NAB  Mark 4:18 Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word,

NJB  Mark 4:18 Then there are others who are sown in thorns. These have heard the word,

GWN  Mark 4:18 Other people are like seeds planted among thornbushes. They hear the word,

BBE  Mark 4:18 And others are those planted among the thorns; these are they who have given ear to the word,

  • Mk 4:7 Jer 4:3 Mt 13:22 Lu 8:14 
  • Mark 4 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns

Thorns (173)(akantha from ake = a point, edge) describes a thorn, prickle. In classical Greek akantha stands for the thornbush and then for all thorns, including any prickling or stinging needle associated with plants, animals, or fish. In a figurative sense it could refer to a “stinging” question.  John writes "And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him." In the famous use in Genesis God curses the land because of Adam's sin declaring "Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field." How interesting that the same word associated with the curse in Genesis 3 is associated with the One Who became a curse for us, wearing a crown of thorns! Jesus wore a "crown of thorns" for believers who will one day cast their own crowns to the King of kings!

Akantha - 14x in 11v - Matt. 7:16; Matt. 13:7; Matt. 13:22; Matt. 27:29; Mk. 4:7; Mk. 4:18; Lk. 6:44; Lk. 8:7; Lk. 8:14; Jn. 19:2; Heb. 6:8.

Gilbrant The Septuagint employs akantha with both the literal and figurative senses. In Genesis 3:18 the literal and figurative senses are combined: As a result of the curse, the ground will produce thorns and thistles. In other instances the term depicts the difficulties and affliction caused by unfaithfulness (Hosea 9:6) or it may connote enemies of the righteous. Surprisingly God chose to reveal himself to Moses in a thornbush, and He was called “he who lived in the thornbush” (Exodus 3:2-4, NIV translates simply “bush”; the Septuagint does not read akantha here). (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Uses in Septuagint - Ge. 3:18; Exod. 22:6; Jdg. 8:7; Jdg. 8:16; 2 Sam. 23:6; Ps. 32:4; Ps. 58:9; Ps. 118:12; Prov. 15:19; Prov. 26:9; Eccl. 7:6; Cant. 2:2; Isa. 5:2; Isa. 5:4; Isa. 5:6; Isa. 7:23; Isa. 7:24; Isa. 7:25; Isa. 32:13; Isa. 33:12; Jer. 4:3; Jer. 12:13; Ezek. 28:24; Hos. 9:6; Hos. 10:8;

these are the ones who have heard the word,


Excerpt from My All in All - Robert J Morgan - Mark 4:18-19 Today's New York Post has an article titled "Stress Mess in U.S." about a study by the American Psychological Association finding that 48 percent of Americans can't sleep at night because of stress. Seventy-five percent of Americans worry constantly about two things—money and work. Half of us are also stressed about paying our rent or mortgage. According to the report, stress and worry are taking a toll, leading us to fight with family members, drink, smoke, and gulp junk food like starving fools. It's leading to obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer.  In His parable of the sower, Jesus warned that too much stress can also damage us spiritually. When we're overwhelmed by all our tasks and desires, the stress strangles the Word in our hearts and hinders the crop. The biblical antidote is a simpler lifestyle, a deeper trust, and a daily walk with Christ. As the psalmist said, "As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in Your commands" (Ps. 119:143 NLT). For starters, here's an old prayer that may help: 

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
—John Greenleaf Whittier, 1872

Mark 4:19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

NET  Mark 4:19 but worldly cares, the seductiveness of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it produces nothing.

GNT  Mark 4:19 καὶ αἱ μέριμναι τοῦ αἰῶνος καὶ ἡ ἀπάτη τοῦ πλούτου καὶ αἱ περὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ἐπιθυμίαι εἰσπορευόμεναι συμπνίγουσιν τὸν λόγον καὶ ἄκαρπος γίνεται.

NLT  Mark 4:19 but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.

KJV  Mark 4:19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

ESV  Mark 4:19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

NIV  Mark 4:19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

ASV  Mark 4:19 and the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

CSB  Mark 4:19 but the worries of this age, the seduction of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

NKJ  Mark 4:19 "and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

NRS  Mark 4:19 but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing.

YLT  Mark 4:19 and the anxieties of this age, and the deceitfulness of the riches, and the desires concerning the other things, entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

NAB  Mark 4:19 but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit.

NJB  Mark 4:19 but the worries of the world, the lure of riches and all the other passions come in to choke the word, and so it produces nothing.

GWN  Mark 4:19 but the worries of life, the deceitful pleasures of riches, and the desires for other things take over. They choke the word so that it can't produce anything.

BBE  Mark 4:19 And the cares of this life, and the deceits of wealth, and the desire for other things coming in, put a stop to the growth of the word, and it gives no fruit.

  • the worries of the world - Lu 10:41 12:17-21,29,30 14:18-20 21:34 Php 4:6 2Ti 4:10 
  • the worries of the world - Pr 23:5 Ec 4:8 5:10-16 1Ti 6:9,10,17 
  • the desires for other things - 1Pe 4:2,3 1Jn 2:15-17 
  • Unfruitful- Isa 5:2,4 Mt 3:10 Joh 15:2 Heb 6:7,8 2Pe 1:8 Jude 1:12 
  • Mark 4 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Parallel Passages: 

Matthew 13:22 “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

Luke 8:14  "The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.

but the worries of the world 

Worries (anxieties) (3308)(merimna from merizo = to divide or draw different directions - which is exactly what anxiety does to most of us!) refers to a care (the sole way it is translated in the KJV) or concern and so to care for someone or something. It is often used in a negative sense and thus is translated as worry. From the origin, one can see that merimna describes the state of "being pulled apart.” Thus when circumstances are difficult, it is easy to let oneself be dominated by anxiety and worry.

Some cross references on worries - Mt 6:25, Mt 6:31, Lk 12:29, Lk 21:34, Php 4:6, 1 Pe 5:7, Ps 39:6, Ps 127:2

and the deceitfulness of riches,

Deceitfulness (539)(apate from apatao = cheat, delude, deceive, beguile) describes that which gives a false impression, whether by appearance, statement or influence. It is spoken of anything which is seducing (a leading astray by persuasion or false promises), in this case wealth. Apate describes that which causes someone to have misleading or erroneous views concerning the truth.

Riches (wealth) (4149)(ploutos from pletho = to fill) properly denotes abundance, plentitude, and literally is used to refer to material wealth or prosperity (abundance of earthly, temporal goods) which is the meaning in the parable of the seed and the soils (Mt 13:22, Mk 4:19, Lk 8:14 = Material riches are deceitful and choke out reception of the Word of God. Be careful all you wealthy readers! Contrast spiritual riches - Ep 3:8) Indeed, think of the people who know whose whole lives glow with the glory of God for they are rich in spiritual possessions, albeit often poor in material possessions!

Some cross references on riches - Mk 4:19, 1 Ti 6:9, Jas 5:2, Mt 19:23, 1 T 6:7, Dt 8:13-14, Job 20:28, Ps 49:10, Pr 23:5, Eccl 2:18, Jer 17:11

And the desires for other things

Desires (1939)(epithumia from epi = at, toward {the preposition "epi-" in the compound is directive conveying the picture of "having one’s passion toward"} + thumos = passion. The root verb epithumeo = set heart upon) is a neutral term denoting the presence of strong desires or impulses, longings or passionate craving (whether it is good or evil is determined by the context) directed toward an object. 

Enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

Choke (4846)(sumpnigo from sun = with + pnigo = to choke, strangle, "seizing by the throat") means to crowd together and thus to choke or suffocate (Mt 13:22, Mk 4:7, 19, Lk 8:14). BDAG has "to check the growth or well-being of someth. by pressure." Figuratively it means to crowd around, to press upon, almost to crush ("crowds were pressing against Him" = Lk 8:42, 12:1). The present tense indicates the choking effect was continual. Friberg on sumpnigo - literally, of weeds too thickly surrounding plants choke, cause to die; metaphorically, of things causing a message to be ineffective in a life crowd out, i.e. overwhelm, take over (Mk 4.19); exaggerated for effect, of a thronging crowd suffocate, almost crush, crowd in around (Lk 8.42) (Analytical Lexicon) Sumpnigo - 5x in 5v - Mt. 13:22; Mk. 4:7; Mk. 4:19; Lk. 8:14; Lk. 8:42. Not found in the Septuagint. 

Unfruitful (175)(akarpos from a = without + karpos = fruit, produce) means barren, without fruit or unprofitable. Akarpos pictures a tree without fruit under the most favorable of circumstances. Akarpos -7x in 7v - Mt 13:22; Mk 4:19; 1Cor 14:14; Ep 5:11; Titus 3:14; 2Pet 1:8; Jude 1:12


Mark 4:19 Cares;… Riches;… Lusts. Meyer, F. B. Our Daily Homily

There is enough nutriment in the land for the thorns alone or for the wheat alone, but not for both; and so there is a brief struggle, for mastery, in which the sturdy weed prevails against the slender wheat, and chokes it. Nourishment which should go to its support is drained away from it; and though it does not actually expire, it leads a struggling existence, and becomes unfruitful. What are these weeds?

For the poor man — Cares. — The Greek word for care is Division. Cares divide our heart, and distract it in many different directions. What shall we eat? What shall we drink? Wherewithal shall we be clothed? How shall we meat our rent and other expenses? It is almost impossible to settle to our prayer, or Bible study, or Christian work, or to the culture of the soul-life, while questions like these intrude. What shall the poor man do to prevent the word becoming unfruitful? He must take his cares to his Father, and by one act deposit them in his safe keeping. And thereafter, as a care tries to break in on the peace of his heart, he must treat it as a positive temptation, handing it over to God.

Far the prosperous man — riches. — They will distract as much as anxiety does. How much they amount to! Oh, the endless figurings in the brain—how to keep, or invest, or increase. The case for him is to look on all be has as a stewardship for God, deducting only a moderate percentage for himself.

For us all — lusts. — Strong and inordinate desires for what may be right in itself, but which we follow with extravagant zest. What is right in itself may become wrong if we put it in God’s place, and allow it to monopolies us unduly. On, Great Husbandman, root up the thorns by thy Holy Spirit!


Prepared Soil

The farmer may be shoveling snow or enjoying the warmth of a winter fire right now, but he’s thinking ahead to spring planting. Already he’s anticipating those days when he turns over the soil. He’ll pull out rocks that have risen with the frost, spread the right fertilizers, and get the earth ready for the seed. He knows that the harder he prepares in the spring, the better his harvest will be.

Jesus used that kind of word picture in the parable of the sower. The seed is the Word of God, and the soil is our hearts. The “noble and good heart” (Lk. 8:15) receives the Word, retains it, and produces fruit. How about our hearts? Are they prepared to receive the seed of God’s Word? Or are there hindrances that keep it from growing and bearing fruit? Jesus identified three kinds of thorns that spring up and choke out the seed—”the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things” (Mk. 4:19).

If you’ve grown cold toward God’s Word, if it’s not firmly established in your life and producing fruit, it may be that you’re too concerned about this world with its riches and distractions. Tear out those thorns! How much fruit you’ll harvest depends on how well you prepare the soil.  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

It may not be some heinous deed
That chills our heart and chokes the seed;
It's often just a trifling toy
That grabs our eye and steals our joy.
—Gustafson

To bear good fruit, clear out the weeds of sin.


Weed Control

The cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things . . . choke the Word. —Mark 4:19

Today's Scripture: Mark 4:13-20

The Parrotfeather is an attractive aquatic plant that looks like a forest of small fir trees growing on top of the water. In the springtime it produces a blanket of small, white flowers. But it’s a noxious weed. It forms a dense mat of vegetation that covers the surface of lakes and ponds, crowding out native plants and destroying fish and wildlife habitat.

Recently I was hiking by a small lake in Washington State that was choked with Parrotfeather plants. It occurred to me that, like that weed, “the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful,” as Jesus taught in Mark 4:13-20.

Jesus was talking about how unbelievers receive the gospel, but His words can apply to us as well. Sometimes when we read God’s Word, our minds are taken up with troubles, worries, and fears. The pressure of things to be done today and concerns about tomorrow’s decisions are “weeds” that can choke the Word and make it unprofitable.

To control the weeds, we must ask God to quiet our hearts so we can pay attention to Him (Psalm 46:10). When we turn our worries over to God, we’ll be free to enjoy His presence and hear what He has to say. By: David H. Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

The weeds will take over and choke out good fruit;
But you can control them—just follow this plan:
Make sure that the seed of God's Word has deep root,
And pull out the weeds just as soon as you can.
—Hess

To uproot the weeds of anxious care, get down on your knees.

Mark 4:20 “And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” 

NET  Mark 4:20 But these are the ones sown on good soil: They hear the word and receive it and bear fruit, one thirty times as much, one sixty, and one a hundred."

GNT  Mark 4:20 καὶ ἐκεῖνοί εἰσιν οἱ ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν τὴν καλὴν σπαρέντες, οἵτινες ἀκούουσιν τὸν λόγον καὶ παραδέχονται καὶ καρποφοροῦσιν ἓν τριάκοντα καὶ ἓν ἑξήκοντα καὶ ἓν ἑκατόν.

NLT  Mark 4:20 And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God's word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!"

KJV  Mark 4:20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

ESV  Mark 4:20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold."

NIV  Mark 4:20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop--thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown."

ASV  Mark 4:20 And those are they that were sown upon the good ground; such as hear the word, and accept it, and bear fruit, thirtyfold, and sixtyfold, and a hundredfold.

CSB  Mark 4:20 But the ones sown on good ground are those who hear the word, welcome it, and produce a crop: 30, 60, and 100 times what was sown."

NKJ  Mark 4:20 "But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred."

NRS  Mark 4:20 And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold."

YLT  Mark 4:20 'And these are they who on the good ground have been sown: who do hear the word, and receive, and do bear fruit, one thirty-fold, and one sixty, and one an hundred.'

NAB  Mark 4:20 But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold."

NJB  Mark 4:20 And there are those who have been sown in rich soil; they hear the word and accept it and yield a harvest, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.'

GWN  Mark 4:20 Others are like seeds planted on good ground. They hear the word, accept it, and produce crops-thirty, sixty, or one hundred times as much as was planted."

BBE  Mark 4:20 And these are they who were planted on the good earth; such as give ear to the word, and take it into their hearts, and give fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundred times as much.

  • which - Mk 4:8 Mt 13:23 Lu 8:15 Joh 15:4,5 Ro 7:4 Ga 5:22,23 Php 1:11 Col 1:10 1Th 4:1 2Pe 1:8 
  • a hundred - Ge 26:12 
  • Mark 4 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Parallel Passages:

Matthew 13:23+ “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

Luke 8:15+ “But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.

GOOD SOIL BEARS
A BOUNTIFUL HARVEST

And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil 

Good (soil) (2570)(kalos) describes that which is inherently excellent or intrinsically good, providing some special or superior benefit. In the parallel passage in Luke 8:15, the soil is synonymous with the heart and Jesus says both are kalos

And they hear the word and accept it -  Accept is paradechomai  in the present tense indicating they continually accept the Word deliberately, willingly, favorably, readily. Accept is in the reflexive middle voice indicating they take the Word to themselves personalizing the Word of the Gospel. In essence this person "Puts out the welcome mat" for the Gospel. Matthew adds "this is the man who hears the word and understands it." (Mt 13:23+). The word  understands is suniemi in the present tense (continually understands) and literally means to bring together. Jesus uses it figuratively meaning this man is able to "piece together" the puzzle of the Gospel (such as [1] you are a sinner, [2] you need a Savior, [3] you must repent and receive/believe Jesus. See Romans Road to Salvation). Luke adds that they "have heard the word in an honest and good heart and hold it fast." Hold fast is katecho in the present tense and active voice (volitional choice, decision of our will) signifying that holding fast to the truth of the Gospel is to be the continual choice of one's will! Notice also that one's continually holding fast to the Word of the Gospel is evidence that God's Spirit is continually holding onto us. This "dual dynamic" emphasizes the mysterious juxtaposition of divine sovereignty and human responsibility, God's part, our part! We continually choose to hold fast to the Gospel because the Spirit continually enables us to make the choice to hold fast (see Php 2:13NLT+). Combining the three synoptic accounts, we learn that the good soil hears the good word of the Gospel, gladly accepts it and fully understands it.

Accept (3858)(paradechomai from para = from, beside, near + dechomai = accept deliberately and readily) means literally to receive or accept near or beside and then to accept deliberately, willingly, favorably and readily. In the present context it means to come to believe the Word, the Gospel, to be true and to respond accordingly.

And bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold - Luke adds that these "bear fruit with perseverance." Thus perseverance is the condition in which we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to bear fruit, this fruit bearing serving to prove that we are genuine saints! Stated another way, a saint without fruit ain't! That is to say a person who professes to be a saint, but never bears fruit "ain't a saint," bad grammar, but accurate theology! 

Bear fruit with perseverance also implies that bearing genuine spiritual fruit will take perseverance. This is especially true when one considers the pressures that Jesus had just descried as affected the integrity of the soils/hearts, so not only does bearing fruit take time, it also necessitates (Holy Spirit enabled) steadfast endurance to resist the distracting, destructive pressures Jesus described! 

Bear fruit (karpophoreo) is in the present tense and thus Jesus is teaching that true believers will bring forth fruit ("good works") continually (present tense) in all manner of activity undertaken for the glory of the Father (cf Mt 5:16+, Jn 15:8), in the Name of the Son and in the energizing/enabling power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, upon Whom the believer is entirely dependent. Indeed, good works could be aptly termed "God works" and those are the only works that will endure throughout eternity!  The corollary is that when people abandon their profession of faith in Christ, it is evidence that their profession was never real, that they had not exercised saving faith. The proof of authenticity of one's salvation is perseverance and fruit bearing. But don't be confused because perseverance does NOT save a person, but only serves to show that a person is truly saved.

W H Griffith-Thomas - Let us therefore heed not only--

  • What we hear -- Gospel message, inspirational challenge, etc., but also...
  • How we hear -- simply, sincerely, sympathetically, surrendering lip and life, personality and possessions.
  • The Word of God just be received and retained in order that it may reveal. Are we doing this?

Puritan Thomas Watson on Effectual Hearing - If you would hear the Word aright, be not only attentive, but retentive. Lay the Word up in your memories and hearts. "The seed on the good ground are they who, having heard the Word, keep it." The Greek word for "keep" signifies "to hold the Word fast, that it do not run from us." If the seed be not kept in the ground, but is presently washed away, it is sown to little purpose: so, if the Word preached be not kept in your memories and hearts, it is preached in vain. Many people have memories like leaky vessels — the Word goes out as fast as it comes in: how, then, can it profit? If a treasure be put into a chest and the chest not locked, it may easily be taken out: a bad memory is like a chest without a look, the devil can easily take out all the treasure. Labour to keep in memory the truths you hear: the things we esteem we are not so apt to forget.


ILLUSTRATION OF DIFFERENT SOILS - The popular preacher, Chuck Swindoll, tells of ministering at a family conference. There was a young couple there with several small children, and it was obvious that they had some serious problems in their marriage. But as the week progressed, Chuck watched this couple change as they sat under the teaching of God’s Word. The husband seemed to hang on every word. The wife had her Bible open and followed carefully from passage to passage. On the last day, they both came up to Chuck and said, “We want you to know that this week has been a 180 degree turn around experience for us. When we came, we were ready to separate. We’re going back now stronger than we have ever been in our marriage.”That’s tremendous! But the sad thing, Chuck said, is that at the same conference with the same speakers, the same truths, and the same surroundings, another man was turned off. He wasn’t open to God’s Word. He attended the first few sessions, but his guilt became so great and his conviction so deep that he went home. His family left hurting, perhaps even more so than when they came. What was the difference between those two men at the same conference? The difference was the condition of the soil of their hearts.


What Kind Of Soil Are You?

Those who [hear] the Word with a noble and good heart keep it and bear fruit. — Luke 8:15

Today's Scripture: Luke 8:4-15

A new resident at the drug rehabilitation center where I worked was given the task of planting runner-bean seeds. With no experience growing vegetables, Jim quickly became bored waiting for the seeds to sprout.

After weeks of seeing nothing happen, Jim finally noticed signs of life coming up. Before long, he had to put poles in the ground for the beans to climb. One day Jim ran excitedly into the kitchen with some freshly picked beans for dinner. “Wow! All this from tiny seeds!” he exclaimed. “I’ve sure learned a lot!”

As I talked with Jim, it became clear that he learned more than how plants grow. He gained a new insight: If we willingly listen to God in His Word and do what’s right for the right reasons and for the right length of time, our lives will be fruitful.

In Luke 8, Jesus used a parable to teach that the seed of the Word of God will produce a harvest in good soil. But the seed is productive only if the soil is receptive.

People with receptive hearts hear God’s Word, obey it, and bear fruit. Others, however, have resistant hearts that fall prey to the devil, do not allow the seed to take root, or are overgrown with the cares and temptations of life.

God’s Word is good seed. Is your heart good soil?  —JEY   (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Lord, I would be soil in which You can plant
Your Word with its promise of fruit;
I want to be open to You every day,
So what You have planted takes root. 
—Hess

To be spiritually fruitful, plant God's Word in your heart.


Son Followers

The seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.Luke 8:15

Today's Scripture & Insight:Luke 8:11–15

Sunflowers sprout in a carefree manner all over the world. Pollinated by bees, the plants spring up on the sides of highways, under bird feeders, and across fields, meadows, and prairies. To produce a harvest, however, sunflowers need good soil. Well-drained, slightly acidic, nutrient-rich soil “with organic matter or composted,” says the Farmer’s Almanac, finally produces tasty sunflower seeds, pure oil, and also a livelihood for hard-working sunflower growers.

We also need “good soil” for spiritual growth (Luke 8:15). As Jesus taught in His parable of the farmer scattering seed, God’s Word can sprout even in rocky or thorny soil (see vv. 6–7). It only thrives, however, in the soil of “honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest” (v. 15 nlt).

Young sunflowers are just as patient in their growth. Following the sun’s movement throughout the day, they turn sunward daily in a process called heliotropism. Mature sunflowers are just as deliberate. They turn eastward permanently, warming the face of the flower and increasing visits from pollinator bees. This in turn produces a greater harvest.

As with those who care for sunflowers, we can provide a rich medium for God’s Word to grow by clinging to is Word and following after His Son—developing honesty and a good heart for God’s Word to mature us. It’s a daily process. May we follow the Son and grow. By:  Patricia Raybon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

What’s the condition of your spiritual soil? Rocky, thorny, or rich in spiritual “nutrients”? Why? When you follow the Son daily, how does this practice impact your honesty and heart?


Gardening Tips

These are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the Word, accept it, and bear fruit. —Mark 4:20

Today's Scripture: Mark 4:1-9

I picked up a gardening book the other day and got some good advice: Take care of the soil, and don’t worry about the plants. If the soil is good, the seed will take root and grow.”

In the parable of the sower in Mark 4, Jesus spoke of the importance of “good ground” (or good soil). He defined good soil as referring to those who “hear” God’s Word, “accept it,” and “bear fruit” (v.20). If we keep our heart soft and receptive, God’s Word will take root, grow, and produce fruit.

In gardening, life is in the seed. Under the right conditions, it will grow until it reaches maturity and produces fruit. Similarly, if the seed of the Word is planted in the good soil of a receptive heart, it will grow until the character of Jesus is seen.

For the Christian, the power of the spiritual life comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit. As we open our heart to the Word with an eagerness to obey it, the Spirit causes us to grow and bear fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).

We can’t make ourselves grow, any more than we can force growth from the seeds in our gardens. But we can tend the soil, keeping our hearts soft, receptive, and obedient to God’s Word. Then we will yield the fruit of righteousness.

What kind of soil are you? By:  David H. Roper  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Lord, I would be soil in which You can plant
Your Word with its promise of fruit;
I want to be open to You every day,
So what You have planted takes root.
—Hess

A heart open to God is soil in which the seed of His Word can flourish.

Mark 4:21 And He was saying to them, “A lamp is not brought to be put under a basket, is it, or under a bed? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand?

Donald Trump & Riches - Early in 1989, when Trump’s bank account was still bulging, a writer asked Trump the inevitable question about what horizons were left to conquer. “Right now, I’m genuinely enjoying myself,” Trump replied. “I work and I don’t worry.” “What about death?” the writer asked. “Don’t you worry about dying?” Trump dealt his stock answer, one that appears in a lot of his interviews. “No,” he said. “I’m fatalistic and I protect myself as well as anybody can. I prepare for things.” This time, however, as Trump started walking up the stairs to have dinner with his family, he hesitated for a moment. “No,” he said finally, “I don’t believe in reincarnation, heaven or hell—but we go someplace.” Again a pause. “Do you know,” he added, “I cannot, for the life of me, figure out where.” Donald Trump, investor and businessman. (Quoted in Pursuit magazine in an adaptation from the took What Jesus Would Say, by Lee Strobel, 1994, Zondervan)

Mark 4:22 “For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light.

Mark 4:23 “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear

 

Mark 4:24 And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides.

Mark 4:24 - We Hear What Our Ears are Tuned To - Anthropologist Ethal Alpenfels once told me about a woodsman who was walking down Fifth Avenue in New York City with a friend. All at once the woodsman said, “Why, I hear a cricket.” “Nonsense,” scoffed the city man. “In this uproar? Not a chance.” “ But I do,” said the woodsman, “and I’ll show you.” At that he took a dime out of his pocket and dropped it on the pavement. Instantly, people within 30 feet turned around to see whose coin had dropped. “You see,” said the woodsman, “people hear what their ears are tuned to. Mine happen to be tuned to crickets.” (A. Purnell Bailey, columnist, Capper’s Weekly)

Mark 4:24 - THE RESPONSIBILITY OF LISTENING Take heed therefore how ye hear.... Luke 8:18. What we hear is important (Mark 4:24), but it is equally important how we hear. Receiving with meekness the engrafted Word (James 1:21) is a solemn duty. One reason why we do not have many great preachers, is because we do not have many great listeners! It is just as important that Christians prepare to hear the sermon as it is that the preacher prepare to preach it. How few churchgoers ever think of readying ears and heart to hear the Word of God! We must be doers of the Word, of course, as well as hearers, but good hearing prepares for good doing. (Vance Havner)

Mark 4:25 “For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.”

Mark 4:26 And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil;

Mark 4:27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows–how, he himself does not know.

Mark 4:28 “The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.

Mark 4:29 “But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

Mark 4:30 And He said, “How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it?

Mark 4:31 “It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil,

Mark 4:32 yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR can NEST UNDER ITS SHADE.”  

Mark 4:33 With many such parables He was speaking the word to them, so far as they were able to hear it;

Mark 4:34 and He did not speak to them without a parable; but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples.

Mark 4:35 On that day, when evening came, He *said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.”


Mark 4:35 - No Worries - Read: Mark 4:35–5:1 | Let us go over to the other side. Mark 4:35

A comfortable plane ride was about to get bumpy. The voice of the captain interrupted in-flight beverage service and asked passengers to make sure their seatbelts were fastened. Soon the plane began to roll and pitch like a ship on a wind-whipped ocean. While the rest of the passengers were doing their best to deal with the turbulence, a little girl sat through it all reading her book. After the plane landed, she was asked why she had been able to be so calm. She responded, “My daddy is the pilot and he’s taking me home.”

Though Jesus’ disciples were seasoned fishermen, they were terrified the day a storm threatened to swamp their boat. They were following Jesus’ instructions. Why was this happening? (Mark 4:35-38). He was with them but He was asleep at the stern of the craft. They learned that day that it is not true that when we do as our Lord says there will be no storms in our lives. Yet because He was with them, they also learned that storms don’t stop us from getting to where our Lord wants us to go (5:1).

Storms don’t stop us from getting to where our Lord wants us to go.

Whether the storm we encounter today is the result of a tragic accident, a loss of employment, or some other trial, we can be confident that all is not lost. Our Pilot can handle the storm. He will get us home.

What storms are you encountering today? Perhaps you have lost a loved one or are facing a serious illness. Perhaps you are having difficulty finding a job. Ask the Lord to strengthen your faith and take you safely through the storm to the other side.

We don't need to fear the storm with Jesus as our anchor.

INSIGHT: Jesus’ calming of the storm is a remarkable witness to the power of our Creator over nature, for He spoke directly to the storm threatening the ship He and His disciples were in. He rebuked the wind and waves and said, “Quiet! Be still!” (4:39). The Greek word used here for "still" denotes the muzzling of a hostile animal. When we are overcome with worries and concerns, we can trust that our powerful Creator will still our fears.  By C. P. Hia


Mark 4:35-41 - "What Manner of Man!" - FULL of truth for us today is the Gospel account of our Lord stilling the tempest (Matt. 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25). Matthew tells us (8:18) that when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave orders to depart unto the other side of the sea. There is a time to mix with and minister to the crowd, and there is also a time to leave the crowd. Some of us, in our zeal to serve, stay with the crowd when we need to get away for rest and renewed strength.
Mark says the disciples took the Lord "even as He was" in the ship. Tired from the busy day, He soon fell asleep. The storm must have been terrific, for these disciples were seasoned fishermen for the most part, used to the waves, and yet they were alarmed. But no matter how fierce the tempest, they had seen our Lord perform His miracles, had witnessed His power over nature, and they should not have given way to panic. How typical of human nature! We believe in a Christ who works wonders. We believe, theoretically, in His supernatural power, but when the actual crisis arises, we are terrified. No wonder that He asks, "Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?" This incident has been misinterpreted again and again. We have heard it applied in this way: Christ asleep in the boat is Christ in the believer, dormant, not called into action; but when the crisis arises, we may call upon Him and be delivered. But this is erroneous. If the disciples had more faith they would not have awakened our Lord, they would have let Him sleep. It was fear and not faith that led them to arouse Him. Besides, Christ is not supposed to be a dormant guest in our hearts, to be aroused only in emergency. He abides in us, and if we trusted as we ought we would rest in peace in any storm because, although at times He may seem to be asleep, we are sure of the fact of His presence—and that is enough.
We have grown accustomed to hearing this familiar story, but if we valued it aright we would cry out as did these disciples: "What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" Here He manifested His power over wind and wave, for all things are subject to Him by whom and for whom all things were made.
Mark also adds the significant little note: "And there were also with him other little ships." We are not alone upon life's sea. Other lives share in our blessing; and if the Lord is with us, His benefits to us reach out and indirectly bless others. All the little ships profited from our Lord's presence in one ship. The ship that carries Jesus liveth not unto itself. Even lives in which He does not dwell personally are benefitted by His presence in our lives.
Is the Lord in your boat? At times He may seem asleep. He may answer you not a word. He may tarry as He did in Lazarus' sickness. But rest assured that if He be present, all things shall work together for good. Do not awaken Him in panic; rest upon His word, "Where is your faith?" (Vance Havner)


Mark 4:35–5:1 The Storms of Life - You may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith . . . may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7

In the book of Mark we read about a terrible storm. The disciples were with Jesus on a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee. When a “furious squall came up,” the disciples—among them some seasoned fishermen—were afraid for their lives (Mark 4:37-38). Did God not care? Weren’t they handpicked by Jesus and closest to Him? Weren’t they obeying Jesus who told them to “go over to the other side”? (v. 35). Why, then, were they going through such a turbulent time?

No one is exempt from the storms of life. But just as the disciples who initially feared the storm later came to revere Christ more, so the storms we face can bring us to a deeper knowledge of God. “Who is this,” the disciples pondered, “even the wind and the waves obey him!” (v. 41). Through our trials we can learn that no storm is big enough to prevent God from accomplishing His will (5:1).

While we may not understand why God allows trials to enter our lives, we thank Him that through them we can come to know who He is. We live to serve Him because He has preserved our lives.

Lord, I know I don’t need to fear the storms of life around me. Help me to be calm because I stand secure in You.

The storms of life prove the strength of our anchor. By Albert Lee

INSIGHT:In Mark 4:35–5:43 the gospel writer tells of four miracles to prove that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of God” and therefore has absolute authority over the forces of this physical world (4:35-41), over the powers of the spiritual world (5:1-20), over physical illnesses (5:24-34), and over death (5:35-43). These miracles were designed to answer the question, “Who is this?” (4:41). The first miracle was Jesus calming the storm on Galilee. Because the Sea of Galilee is in a basin about 700 feet below sea level and is surrounded by mountains, sudden and violent storms are common (v. 37). That Jesus was tired and soundly asleep showed that He was fully human (v. 38); that the storm instantly obeyed Him showed He was divine (v. 39). Sim Kay Tee


Mark 4:35-41

Facing Hardships - Even when believers follow Christ’s bidding, they may face hardships. For example, Jesus’ disciples were doing God’s will when they took Him across the lake, for he had commanded them to do so. Yet they were buffeted by a dreadful tempest, and they seemed to be in danger of drowning. A storm - and Christ on board! It seems a contradiction. Wouldn’t His presence ensure a peaceful journey? Not at all! Life frequently becomes more difficult after a person has accepted Christ as Savior and Lord. The Christian encounters the devil’s opposition. But a storm - and Christ asleep! That even deepens the perplexity! Our Lord’s silence, the frustrating delays, the mysteries of his dealings - these are too profound for us to understand. Yet we can be certain that His purpose in testing our faith is to strengthen it. God will surly fulfill his plan for us through our struggles, and His deliverance will lead us to praise Him.

Needless fears beset the disciples because they did not trust Jesus words. If they had just thought for a moment, they would have remembered that he had said, “Let us pass over unto the other side.” He didn’t say, “Let us go to the middle of the lake and be drowned.” They should have been saying to the raging waves, “You can do us no harm, for Christ the mighty Savior is on board!” - Our Daily Bread

Mark 4:36 Leaving the crowd, they *took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him.

Mark 4:36 - Christian Ships - It was a mountain preacher who followed a strange outline in his sermon on the text, "And there were also with him other little ships" (Mark 4:36). The main ship, he declared, is Lordship. If that ship leads, all the other ships will fall in line:

  • Church membership
  • Worship
  • Stewardship
  • Discipleship
  • Fellowship (Vance Havner)

Mark 4:37-39 - CHRIST, POWER OF - In Mark's account of the stilling of the tempest we read, "there arose a great storm of wind" (Mark 4:37). The disciples aroused the Lord from His sleep and we read, "And he arose." (v. 39). We are in the greatest storm of history, but He is master of the storm. When the storm arises, let us arise in His strength and bid the tempest subside. Like the disciples we panic, forgetting Who is in the boat with us! We are hearing aplenty about the storm these days, but little about the Saviour. "There arose a storm. . . and he arose."

Mark 4:37 And there *arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.

Mark 4:38 Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they *woke Him and *said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

Mark 4:39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.


Mark 4:39

Breton fishermen on the coast of France have a brief prayer that humbly acknowledges God's control of nature and life:

"God, Your sea is so great and my boat is so small."

In recognizing that the sea belongs to God, the fishermen see God as the only source of safety for their boats.

In calming the Sea of Galilee, Jesus taught the disciples not only about His power over nature but also about external and internal peace. The lesson about external peace was the easier of the two; He stopped the storm. Dealing with the storm inside the disciples was more difficult; fear had replaced the disciples' faith.

Trust and tranquility are twins in the spiritual life. Perfect peace comes from complete trust (ls 26:3). —D. J. De Haan

Better the storm with Christ,
than smooth waters waters without Him

Sometimes God calms the storm,
sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child.

Mark 4:40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Mark 4:41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

 

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