Mark – What parable shall describe the Kingdom of God?
Read Mark 4:1-34
It is not before Mark 3:23 that Mark introduced a parable of Jesus Christ. The purpose of the parables in Mark 4:1-34 is to teach us about the purpose of Gospel and how it brings about growth. (See text box below.)
Mark 4 once again opens with the main purpose of the ministry of Jesus: teaching! The NIV uses different expressions:
- The activity of teaching occurs 5 times (4:1-2 [twice] and 4:33-34.
- “He said” which occurs 5 times (verses 9, 13, 21, 26, 30).
- “He told” (v. 11) and “spoke” (v. 33) and “explained” (v. 34)
What He taught, said and explained was meant to be heard. The words “listen”and “hear” occurs 10 times; included are the concepts of understanding (x2), perceiving and meaning.
1. With these key words of the passage in mind, explain in your own words our task of evangelism and mission
2. Read Mark 4:24. What is the command of Christ? How would you describe “careful” in this verse?
To the crowd the parable about the sower was just a story. But Christ is preparing The Twelve and others around him (verse 10) for their mission. He called them to be sowers of the seed.
3. Read Mark 4:11, Romans 16:25 and Ephesians 3:3, 9. What is the “secret of the Kingdom of God”?
4. Read Matthew 13:18, Mark 4:15-17, Luke 8:11. What is the seed?
5. Read Mark 4:12 and Isaiah 6:9-10. Did/will all people who hear the Word about the Kingdom of God respond and be saved?
6. According to the parable of the sower who is represented by the different kinds of soil? Why did the seed in three kinds of soil not bear fruit?
7. Read Mark 4:21. Jesus asked his disciples: “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand?” How do understand this in the light of the sowers and the seed (or the disciples and the Word?)
8. Read Mark 4:24-25 and Matthew 25:14-28. What does Jesus teach about the sowers and their responsibility?
The way the disciples hear and understand the Gospel will have an impact on how they will be able to sow the seed of the Gospel. That is why they need to be careful what (how) they hear. Whoever is not careful in this aspect will be judged: those disciples who are careless in listening to the demands and privileges of the Gospel, will in the end find that God will judge them for their carelessness in the task of sowing. This is strongly linked to the meaning of the parable of Luke 19:11-27 – the parable of the pounds.
9. Read Mark 4:26-29. What comfort does our Lord give to his disciples regarding their task of scattering the Gospel?
10. Read Mark 4:20, 31-32. Not all people who hear the Gospel will respond in true faith. Does it mean there will only be a small harvest?
Parables are “expressions which are not to be understood literally, but symbolically or figuratively.” Parables differ from allegories. A parable usually does not convey more than one or two truths by telling a story, while an allegory usually conveys a symbolic meaning through every point mentioned in the story.
If the parable of the sons (Luke 15:11-32) would be interpreted as an allegory, the son, inheritance, distant land, famine, pigs, the empty stomach, and the pods – all of them – would need to have a meaning. Because it is a parable we look at the main points: the son’s rebellion and the Father’s forgiveness (all other aspects serve these main points, shedding more light on it.)