The Parable of the Sower
The Book of Mark
A. Most of us like a good story don’t we?
1. If it is told or written well.
2. It keeps our attention and often entertains us.
3. A good story will also teach us truth if we are paying attention.
B. Mark chapter 4 records a series of 4 parables
C. A parable is a story, which could be true, that is used to illustrate or teach a particular truth.
1. The Greek word means; something placed by the side of something else with the intention of explaining the one by the other.
a) Parables are sometimes called extended proverbs.
b) They differ from fables in that a fable is fictitious giving human attributes to animals and plant life Jud.9:8.
c) A parable on the other hand is a true to life story.
2. The Bible makes extensive use of this form of teaching.
a) 58 recorded in the OT.
b) Jesus used 38 parables in His teaching ministry all taken from the everyday experiences of the people to whom he was talking.
(3) Lost sheep
D. There was a purpose in using parables Mk.4:11-12.
1. This was apparently a change in the manor of our Lord’s teaching 4:10 – cf.1:14-15
2. It may have been precipitated by the actions of the Pharisees 3:29.
3. He is talking about two different groups of people.
a) The disciples vs.11.
(1) They were given the capacity to know the teachings of the kingdom.
(2) This was because of their association with Him – they were true followers chosen by Christ.
b) Those without – outside the circle.
4. Those without – outside our circle.
a) This refers to those who have willfully rejected Him already Mk.3:22.
b) It also refers to those who simply would not comprehend
(1) Mk.4:12 is from Is.6:9-10.
(2) 1Cor.2:14. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
(3) This is judicial blindness
(a) Pharaoh – confronted with God’s truth hardened his heart to it so God hardened it all the more.
(b) The result of judicial blindness is that not only would they not understand but what they were depending on would be taken from them also. Matt.13:12For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
(4) This does not mean that God desires for these people to be destroyed - Ezek.33:11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die O house of Israel?’
E. How does one interpret parables?
1. Parables only illustrate or amplify truth they are not doctrinal statements.
a) They don’t always make perfect sense theologically (the unjust steward Luke 16).
b) If we try to make them say more than what they were intended to say we will be misinterpreting scripture.
c) A parable usually illustrates one main truth but there are also other ancillary truths that can be gleaned from some.
(1) In the parable of the Lost Son.
(a) The main point is the joy in heaven when a sinner comes to Christ.
(b) There is also truth taught concerning repentance and the forgiveness of God.
(c) Another truth taught is the failure of self-righteous religious people to understand the most important thing.
(2) Some people allegorize parables and every point of the parable becomes a spiritual truth and the true meaning of the text becomes diluted and secondary.
2. The first thing we need to discover about a parable is what truth it is illustrating. This is done by:
a) Understanding the occasion of the story – here in Mark 4 the parables come after He has confronted the Pharisees and has defined who His spiritual relatives are.
b) Examining the text of the parable to see if there is an explanation as here in the parable of the sower – this parable is the key to the rest in this group.
(1) Once we have discovered the scope of the parable we can pull out the truth it is teaching or illustrating.
F. The group of parables in Mark 4 is about the Kingdom of God vs.11, 26, 30.
1. What is in view here are descriptions of the Kingdom of God.
2. There are 2 aspects to the Kingdom.
a) A future physical literal Kingdom which we look forward to.
(1) We will be a part of this kingdom in what is called the millennium.
(2) This is the kingdom that the Jews looked for.
(3) A time when their Messiah would reign and put all of His enemies under His feet.
b) There is another aspect of the Kingdom that most of the people missed.
(1) It exists right now and includes all those who are believers in Christ.
(2) It is a personal spiritual kingdom with Christ ruling and reigning in the hearts of believers.
c) The parables recorded by Mark are primarily focused on the 2nd aspect of the kingdom.
d) The kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven are the same.
G. Now that we know the reason for parables let’s take a look at the group recorded here in Mark 4.