Gospel of Mark: Chapter 4

The Gospel of Mark:

Commentary on Chapter 4

  • v. 1 – The lake spoken of in this verse is the Sea of Galilee.
    •  Jesus would sit in the boat for two reasons (1) it would keep the crowds from pressing in on him and (2) it would allow him to speak to a larger crowd by using natural acoustics.
  • v. 2 – A parable is a comparison between two things, the one to explain the other. In the case of Scripture, parables generally use a description of something natural/earthly to explain something spiritual/heavenly.
  • v. 4 – “Birds” are sometimes used to describe Satan.
  • v. 8 – A good harvest from a crop would be ten times – so this is a magnificent / supernatural harvest.
  • v. 9 – Jesus is calling for his audience to make an intentional effort to comprehend what he is saying – not only the story but it’s underlying meaning.
  • v. 10 – The twelve are the apostles he selected in chapter 3.
  • vv. 11-12 – At this juncture in time, Christ is maintaining secrecy about the Kingdom, perhaps to prevent people from forcefully making Him the “Messiah” they imagined (an armed, military victor).
    •   Jesus quotes from Isa. 6:9-10.
  • v. 14 – The farmer is the individual speaking God’s Word. At this juncture it is Jesus, later it will be the disciples and on to the present when it is us.
  • vv. 21-23 – The light is likely the Kingdom of God. While it is being spoken of in a hidden manner now, it will be brought out into the open to shine its light upon everyone and everything.
    • The Kingdom of God provides a message of hope, but also a method of judgment. The secrets of the heart will be revealed by the light of God’s revelation, darkest secrets made public.
  • vv. 24-25 – Jesus is not speaking of material possessions or physical health but of knowledge and understanding.
  • vv. 26-28 – Seed is small, yet transforms into something large(r) and beautiful. This process occurs invisibly and over time. It is a work of God rather than of man.
  • v. 29 – Harvest is a frequent image in Scripture for judgment.
  • v. 31 – The mustard seed is a very small seed, while not literally the smallest seed, it would be the smallest seed the people would be familiar with.
  • v. 32 – The tree and birds is an image used in Scripture to depict a grand kingdom in which smaller kingdoms are part.[1]
  • v. 37 – The geography surrounding the Sea of Galilee is such that storms can spring up suddenly and violently.
  • v. 39 – Jesus demonstrated power over nature and over a body of water. To the Jewish mind large bodies of water were often associated with chaos – the uncontrollable.
  • vv. 40-41 – The fear of the disciples is turned from nature to Jesus, they are amazed by His power and recognize that He is greater than they had imagined.

Author: Dave Mackey

Revision: 1.1 4/19/13


[1] While birds earlier represented Satan, they do not represent Satan or anything evil here.