Mark 4:1-34 Reading the Passage

Four Encouraging Parables – Mark 4:1-34

4 On another occasion Jesus began to teach by the seaside, and there gathered around him a very large crowd. Therefore he got into a boat and sat in it out on the sea, while the whole crowd remained on the shore along the water’s edge. (2) And he taught them many things in parables. In his teaching he said to them, (3) Listen carefully. A farmer went out to sow his seed. (4) As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the pathway, and the birds came and ate it up. (5) Some seed fell on the rocky ground, where there was not much soil. The seed immediately sprang up, because it had no depth of soil. (6) But when the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. (7) Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked the young plants, and so the seed yielded no fruit. (8) But other seed fell into the good soil, and yielded fruit. That seed sprouted, grew, and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundredfold. (9) Then he said, Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.

(10) When he was alone, those who stayed with him along with the Twelve asked him the meaning of the parables. (11) He said to them, The mystery of the kingdom of God is given to you. But all these things are spoken in parables to those who are outside; (12) so that “by looking they may see, but not perceive; and by listening they may hear, but not understand; so that they should not repent and be forgiven.” (13) He said to them, Do you not understand this parable? If not, how shall you be able to understand all the other parables? (14) The farmer sows the word. (15) These are the people along the pathway where the word is sown: as soon as they have heard the word, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that has been sown in them. (16) Others are like seed sown on rocky ground: when they have heard the word, they immediately receive it with joy; (17) but they have no root in themselves. They endure for a while; but then, when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, they immediately fall away. (18) Still others are like seed sown among the thorns: these are people who have heard the word; (19) but the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the intense desires for other things come in and choke the word, and so it becomes unfruitful. (20) But others are like seed sown upon the good soil: they hear the word, and accept it, and bear fruit—thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold.

(21) And he said to them, Is the lamp brought into a room in order to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not to be put on the lamp stand? (22) There is nothing hidden that is not intended to be revealed; there is nothing secret that is not intended to be brought to light. (23) If any man has ears to hear, let him hear. (24) And he said to them, Pay attention to what you hear; for the same measure with which you measure shall be used to measure for you—and even more shall be given to you. (25) To the one who has, to him shall more be given; but the one who does not have, from him shall be taken away even that which he has.

(26) And he said, The kingdom of God may be compared to a man who scatters seed upon the ground. (27) He goes to sleep at night and gets up in the morning, and the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not know how. (28) The earth produces crops by itself; first appears the stalk, then the head, then the mature kernel in the head. (29) But as soon as the crop is ripe, he immediately gets out the sickle, because the harvest has come.

(30) And he said, What shall we say the kingdom of God is like? Or with what parable shall we describe it? (31) It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown upon the ground—though it is smaller than all the seeds you plant*—(32) nevertheless, after it has been sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the plants of the garden and puts out large branches; so that the birds of the heavens can nest under its shade.

(33) Using many similar parables, Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they were able to understand. (34) He did not say anything to them without using a parable; but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

*Literally, “smaller than all the seeds upon the ground”

Now proceed to the next section of this study, entitled, Exploring the Passage.