Summary: Only a few parables are found in Mark. Most of those are found in Mark 4.
Mk. 4:1-34 JESUS SPEAKS IN PARABLES
A. Recently, hearing about the trial of John Allen Muhammad, has
seemed to be a mysterious case to me.
1. He had not only won the chance to represent himself as his
own defense and lawyer - but I read that he is out to prove to the nation
that he had nothing to do with these crimes. Now, it sounds as if he
will be getting some lawyers to represent him.
2. I believe that there is strong evidence that this man and his
18 year old friend Lee Malvo not only killed about 10 people, but
injured and terrorized many people. It does not appear that he has any
guilt or sorrow for what He has done.
3. What has happened to the moral conscience of people in our
country? What a mystery this is!
4. Jesus spoke in parables, but as He spoke, the mystery and
the secrecy of the Messiah, as the Son of God, was not revealed to
everyone who heard Him.
I. THE MYSTERY OF THE KINGDOM.
A. In this chapter we read four to five different parables that Jesus
tells. Except for the ones told in 3:23ff, and in 12:1-9; these are the
only parables of Jesus recorded by Mark
1. Matthew and Luke record many parables of Jesus. John
does not record any. In Matthew, Mark and Luke, we find some 35
parables of Jesus recorded for us.
2. The first parable we read in Mark, is that of the sower and
his seed. In the midst of this parable, we find probably some of the
most difficult verses in the New Testament to fully understand.
3. READ 4:11-12. At times you get the feeling that Jesus
spoke in parables, so that the people would not understand, because if
they did understand, they might repent of their sins and be converted to
4. Now, this goes totally against what any evangelical preacher
should be saying, Sunday School teachers, and parents training their
kids in Godly homes.
5. So I should ask the question, “Did Jesus use parables
deliberately to give an unclear message of the truth of the Gospel?”
Before I try to answer that, let’s look at some other suggestions to try
to understand this text of Jesus.
B. The parable of the sower and the seed is a familiar story to us.
Verses 13-20 are pretty clear. But in vss. 21-25 we have another
parable of the lamp and of the measure.
1. READ 4:24. That is also a difficult verse to understand.
For now, let’s keep moving on. Verse 26-29 is a not so familiar
parable, and we find it only in Mark. READ 26-29.
2. Now, almost everything that takes place in Mark is also
found in Matthew and Luke - but this one is only found in Mark. That
seed grows secretly.
3. It grows, and one day it comes out of the ground, sprouts
and grows. This mysterious growth and certain harvest, is just like the
Kingdom of God!
4. In verses 30-32, we have the parable of the mustard seed.
Now we are back in familiar territory. It is so tiny, but it can produce a
huge tree - large enough for birds of the air to rest in it’s branches, and
to make their nests.
C. Let’s take note of several things here. Jesus is teaching in Parables,
and in verse 2-3 remind us of that; “He taught them many things by
parables, and in His teaching said: Listen! A farmer went out to sow
1. In verse 10, Jesus is speaking probably just with His
disciples. In verse 13 Jesus says, “Do you understand this parable?
How then will you understand any parable?” Then in vss. 33-34 it
says, “With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as
much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them
without using a parable. But when He was alone with His own
disciples, He explained everything.”
2. Here we see that Jesus did make a point to explain all the
parables He used to His own disciples.
3. The word, “parabole” means to cast along side. Literally, it
means putting a story alongside a truth, or clothing the truth with a
story. Maybe you have heard this before. A parable is, “an earthly
story with a heavenly meaning.”
4. Jesus is taking pictures of the Kingdom, manifesting it on
earth, for here and now. Jesus came to announce that the Kingdom
was here, in our midst.
II. THE GROWTH OF THE KINGDOM.
A. A second major theme takes us back to verses 11-12. “The secret
of the Kingdom of God has been given to you.” What is it, that Jesus
teaching His disciples? The Kingdom of God!