Notes Mark 4 A

Last week we looked at the Extravagant love of Christ and the response it drew from his friends and family and the response it drew from the Pharisees and Scribes. Now in chapter 4 it appears to be another day and Jesus is on the move again. As we saw last week Mark is still overwhelmed with the crowds that are now following Jesus and it appears that the crowd on this day is so large that Jesus has to teach from a boat to keep the crowd from overrunning him.

Mark 4:1-2

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. And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine,

It is here that Jesus begins to teach the multitude in parables. We will look at the reason why starting in verse 11 but for now let us look at the parable. 

Mark 4:3

Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

Before we get into the parable itself I want you to see that it is more then just a story and Jesus make a parenthesis around this story. Jesus begins by saying. Hearken or Listen Up and He ends by saying He that has ears to hear let him hear. VERSE 3 & 9.

I also want you to see that Jesus translates this parable and you need to remember that as Jesus continues to speak the other parables in this chapter the same translation of the elements will apply. Jesus taught these parables all in one setting so the explanation of the elements will all be the same and this will be important in seeing the truth in each parable. In fact Jesus brings this fact to life when He tells His disciples in verse 13 Know you not this parable? And how then will you know all parables?

In essence Jesus is telling us that this parable is the key to the remainder of these parables.

So let us read the entire parable and we will follow it with Jesus interpretation. We will come back to verses 10-13.

Mark 4:4-8

Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: 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. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 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.

Let us now skip to Jesus’ interpretation. We will come back to verse 10-13 but let’s look at what Jesus said this parable means.

Mark 4:14

The sower soweth the word.

It is in the presence of this “great multitude” that Jesus gets into a ship and begins to teach in parables.

I want to begin with the elements of this parable and what Jesus tells us they are.

1. The sower. Who is the sower? Well the original sower of the truth of the kingdom was Jesus but the Word is continuing to be sown today by the Holy Spirit for he can give us revelation as we study or just drop a scripture into your spirit, preachers, teachers, witnessing can also be sowers of the word. 

2. The seed. Now the seed is the Word of God.  The Word is dropped into hearts like seeds into soil.

You need to see that the seed, the Word of God has life in itself. It has the potential to bring forth a harvest in our life

Isaiah 55:9-11

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, and giveth seed to the sower and bread to the eater;  so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

That is why it is vital that we line our words up with God’s Word, for there is life in His Word!

But we also need to see that through these parables Jesus tells us there are other factors to consider.
Now Jesus goes on to give us 4 different types of soil and I believe it is important to note that the soil represents the condition of the heart not a type of person.
You see we have 4 different types of hearts or soil.

So at different times we all can have these elements of the heart.

1. Verse 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.

The Greek word translated “way” is a road, route or pathway. The Greek word translated side “Along side”. The unattended parts of the road .We could call this heart the unattended or distracted heart. 

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 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 distracted or unattended heart.
How do you battle this?

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Don’t let the enemy steal the word, remember it is bread to the eater and seed to the sower.

2. Verse 16-17

And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 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.

The second type of heart, Jesus calls it stony ground. We might call it the shallow heart.  The seed falls upon them and they immediately respond with joy. The seed takes root and grows up quickly. The trouble is this type of heart treats the “Word” as the latest fad. The word is the truth but they deal with it as a fad. Then when persecution comes “For the Word’s sake”, then they fall away. When people or the enemy of your soul say, Oh you don’t really think you can call those things that be not as though they already were. You don’t really think you can speak the word over your situation and it’s going to change. Pressure gets on them to stand on what the Word says but because they have no depth (the are shallow in their beliefs and convictions) they can not stand.

So what is the answer for the shallow heart. It is to be rooted and grounded but rooted in ground in what.

Ephesians 3:14-19

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Verses 17-18 say we must be rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints…
The Greek word "comprehend" means to take eagerly, seize or posses.

Football story.

So we have looked at the distracted heart and the answer to that is to cast down those vain imaginations that would exalt themselves against the knowledge of God and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ

And we have the shallow heart and the answer to that is get rooted and ground in His love for when you realize how much He loves you and all He has done for you through that love you will be strengthen and roots will grow in Him.

John 15:5

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

3. Verse 18

And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 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.

The third type of heart is the heart among thorns. Now Jesus tells us there are three verities of thorns. We have your worry thorns. 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. Not allowing the Word to do Its Perfect work.

1 Peter 5:7

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you

And be patient. James 1:3-5

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Jesus says, these people 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.

Then we have the golden thorns. These people are so caught up in making money that they do not have time for God or His Word. But they do not realize it is not by works that we are overcomers but it is by dwelling in Him.

Philippians 4:19

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Finally we have the shifting thorns or as Jesus calls it the desire for other things. These people are always seeking but never finding, never satisfied always looking for something more thrilling but never finding it. They never stay in one place long enough to put down roots.

4. Verse 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.

Finally we have the good ground. This is a heart that is ready to respond to God’s Word. Jesus says they just do not hear the word but they receive it.

I like that word receive they make it a part of them. The word means to catch or take. We are to keep the word of God near to our heart and delight in it and it will bring forth fruit.

Psalms 1:1-3

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The amount of fruit is determined by if you are walking in the good, acceptable or perfect will of God.

Romans 12:2

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Don’t be conformed to these worldly attitudes the poor soil or ill tended ground; but be transformed…
* Now let us go back to Verse 10 and look at the reason Jesus gives for speaking to the multitude in parables.

And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable

… “they that were about him with the twelve” so there were more then just the 12 disciples here with Jesus.

Verse 11-12

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:

Jesus is saying; there are those that follow me, that near me, they want to know me. To these are given the mysteries of the Kingdom, your eyes and heart are open.

But there are others that follow whose eyes and ears are not open. Remember many of the Pharisees and Scribes only wanted to catch Jesus with his words.

Then there is a second type of hearer or receiver.  It is those that are without, that follow from afar or are just a little curious some may even be cynical. It is to these that Jesus speaks in parables. But why? Does Jesus not want them to be saved? That is what it sounds like but we know that Jesus said he came to seek and save that which was lost.

First Mark only gives a short version of what Jesus said. If we are going to really understand this we are going to have to look at the longer version in Matthew 13:13-15

Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

First Jesus is saying that He is speaking in parables not because he wants the people not to understand. Jesus says He is speaking in parables because the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled in Israel. Jesus says this is the condition I have walked into. I am not doing this to cause this condition; this IS the condition of the people.

Then in verse 15 Jesus says, They have closed their eye, NOT GOD NOT JESUS.

So what is Jesus saying? Jesus is saying that the people have closed their own eyes and ears so that they can not receive the healing that I have for them.

Remember what Jesus said just 2 chapters ago when he was confronted with eating with publician and sinner;

Mark 2:17

When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

All they want is the physical help. What I can do for them. They do not want to change; they want their situation to change. BUT I WANT THEM TO CHANGE.

It is because of this that I speak in parables. What do parables do? They tell a truth in a hidden way. Not altogether hidden only slightly hidden. Now there are two principles at work here.

First- We all love a mystery. There is within the heart of man a curiosity that latches hold of a mystery. We become intrigued and what to find the answer. Look at 90% of our television programs, they are who done it. Mysteries, things shrouded in bits of information. Jesus is fishing, bating the people.

Second- The Word of God is a light. Psalms 119-105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

But have you ever stood in front of a bathroom mirror that has 4 or 5 very bright lights. It is appalling what you see, every blemish, every hair that is not supposed to be there. That is why when you go shopping in the finer department stores if you will notice the lights in the dressing rooms are never really bright. The lighting is set to complement you. That is just what Jesus says about the word, to those that are without it is too
bright. It would repel them if I gave it to them straight. They could not take it they would just shut their eyes.
We see a great example of this in the life of David. 2 Samuel 12 1-7

And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;

Jesus’ purpose was to heal them; but to do so he must shroud the truth in a mystery to intrigue the heart and dim the lights.

And finally Jesus was using wisdom in speaking to the crowds in parables for just like Nathan in the story of David, if he had confronted David head on about his involvement with Bathsheba he would have been in danger of losing his life; but by using a parable he was able to touch David’s heart and draw him to repentance. Jesus still had work to do; so using wisdom he spoke to those who would seek to do him harm in parables.

Verse 9

And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

What is your heart like tonight or what does it lean unto.

So we have looked at the distracted heart and the answer to that is to cast down those vain imaginations that would exalt themselves against the knowledge of God and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ

And we have the shallow heart and the answer to that is get rooted and ground in His love for when you realize how much He loves you and all He has done for you through that love you will be strengthen and roots will grow in Him.

Do you have a thorny heart;  worry thorns

1 Peter 5:7   Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you

And be patient. James 1:3-5

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Is your heart filled with golden thorns and you feel like you are working your fingers to the bone and only coming up with boney fingers.

Get in Him dwell in Him and he will supply all your needs.

shifting thorns do not be running after every wind of doctrine but put down roots in Him.

Or do you have Good ground where you come with you heart open to receive from Him!

Drink from Him, water the seed sown and He will bring it to pass!

Word of God Speak  Mercy Me—Mercy Me Folder