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Bible Commentaries
Mark 4

Brown's Commentary on the New TestamentBrown's Commentary

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    READ: Mar 4:1-9
    1. Today, we again find Jesus with a great crowd and needing to move out into the lake in a boat so that everyone can hear him…
    2. ​​​​​​​He begins teaching in parables…
      1. ​​​​​​​A parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels.
    3. Today we will look at just one parable – the Parable of the Sower and the Seed.
    4. And…as we continually are shown – “The heart of the issue is the issue of the heart”
    5. God desires a living loving intimate relationship with us!
    6. Joh 15:8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Verses 1-9

  1. The Parable
    Mar 4:1-9 And again He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea. 2 Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching: 3 "Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. 5 Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. 7 And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 8 But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred." 9 And He said to them, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"
    1. Remember: A parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels.
    2. This was a society that understood planting and harvesting – it understood rocky soil and what weeds would do to a crop.
    3. Jesus is going to take this and make a spiritual lesson out of it…

Verses 10-14

  1. The Ingredients
    1. Why a Parable?
      Mar 4:10-13 But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. 11 And He said to them, "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12 so that 'SEEING THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND HEARING THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND; LEST THEY SHOULD TURN, AND THEIR SINS BE FORGIVEN THEM.'" 13 And He said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?
      1. Isaiah 6 is quoted…Jesus only wants those who understand with Spiritual eyes (wooed by the Holy Spirit) to be saved…
      2. Remember, He is teaching a great multitude…they hadn’t necessarily come because they recognized Him as Messiah – rather many came because of His great miracles!
      3. This parable is the key to all of Jesus’ other parables…(v.13) – how will you understand all the parables if you don’t understand this one?
    2. The Sower
      1. ​​​​​​​To start off understanding the parable – we ask “Who is the Sower?”
      2. Jesus, you, me…all of the children of God
      3. Mat 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
      4. Rom 10:13-17 For "WHOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED." 14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO PREACH THE GOSPEL OF PEACE, WHO BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!" 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?" 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
      5. Pro 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.
    3. Seed
      1. ​​​​​​​The next question to ask…”WHAT is the seed?”
      2. That’s easy because Jesus tells us in v. 14…
      3. Mar 4:14 The sower soweth the word.
      4. Mat 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
      5. Joh 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
      6. 2Ti 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
      7. We must believe that ALL scripture is from God…why would we spread that which is not God’s truth? Why would we want to believe uninspired things?
      8. The opposite is true as well – we must not choose which scripture to follow and which we don’t like! Either follow it all or don’t follow it! Choosing to NOT FOLLOW all of scripture gives the same message – that you don’t believe it!

Verses 15-20

  1. Soil
    1. Path
      Mar 4:15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
      1. This is an example of someone hearing the Word spoken or taught and not believing it because Satan is right there telling them it can’t be, or it isn’t true or simply distracting them so that they don’t hear or receive what is spoken.
      2. 2Co 4:3-4 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
      3. Eph 6:17-18 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
      4. We’re fighting in a war for souls…eternity stands in the balance and we must be praying!
    2. Rocky
      Mar 4:16-17 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.
      1. ​​​​​​​Stony Ground hearers…these are they who come based upon an emotional response!
      2. It says they immediately receive the Word with gladness but…
      3. They have NO ROOT in themselves – IT IS NOT TRUE SALVATION
      4. As soon as things get tough…as soon as things don’t go their way or the way they think things should go…they fall away.
      5. “Offended” :: Skandalizo 1. to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall, a. to entice to sin b. to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey 1. to cause to fall away
      6. Things will get tough…
      7. Joh 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
      8. 2Ti 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
      9. Psa 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
      10. Also, you know it’s not real because they are not bearing fruit for the Kingdom! When we are truly saved, we will desire to serve our risen Savior!
      11. Mat 7:18-23 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
    3. Weedy
      Mar 4:18-19 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
      1. ​​​​​​​Weedy soil chokes the Word so that it becomes unfruitful.
      2. The weeds are the cares of the World!
      3. 1Jn 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
      4. What is in our lives that distracts us / prevents us / holds our attention more than God?
      5. We must keep a balanced life…if there are things that take us away from bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God…they need to go! What keeps you from bearing fruit? Are you willing to let it go?
      6. If you are a weedy soil Christian, you’re walking a fine line…remember what Jesus said in Matt 7.
      7. Pro 27:20 Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
      8. Rev 3:15-19 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
      9. How do we get to the place where we desire to obey and do obey? By falling more and more in love with Jesus!
        1. Joh 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
        2. Joh 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
      10. We can ask ask Jesus to make us love Him more…
      11. Php 2:12-13 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
    4. Good Ground
      Mar 4:20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
      1. ​​​​​​​The good soil people…they hear the Word; they receive the Word as the inspired Word of God for their lives…and they “DO” the Word!
      2. Paul exhorts Timothy:
      3. 2Ti 2:3-4 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
      4. They don’t give it lip service – they don’t just say, “I should do this or that” – they do it! They are seeking to please Jesus!
      5. They have a close abiding relationship with Jesus…they read, receive and obey His Word; they do what His Word says and the do it all out of LOVE for Jesus and do it just like Jesus!
      6. The end result…the fruit of abiding, believing and obeying is 30, 60 or even 100 times the effort put it!
      7. God is simply amazing!
    1. ​​​​​​​Doing the will of the Father – up front in the cab of the truck
    2. Obedience comes from Love – we fear disappointing those we love…
    3. For the believer, this is truly the fear of the Lord

Verses 21-25

  1. Introduction
    Read: Mat 25:14-30
    1. Discuss the parable of the Sower and the Seed
    2. To please God we must be about His business --
      1. ​​​​​​​We must walk by Faith being led by the Holy Spirit.
      2. We must be bear fruit by sowing seed, sharing His love, spreading His Gospel.
      3. Joh 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
      4. We need a fresh touch from The Lord...a fresh annointing of His Holy Spirit!
  2. We're the Light to the World
    1. ​​​​​​​Hide the Light?
      Mar 4:21-23 And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? 22 For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. 23 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
      1. ​​​​​​​We can't hide what we have / what we know.
      2. We need to be bold to share Jesus with the World!
      3. Mat 5:14-16  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15   Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16   Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
      4. We please God when we bear fruit for the Kingdom... "herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit"
        1. ​​​​​​​30, 60 100 times the fruit compared to the seed.
        2. To hide the light is sin.
      5. Rom 14:23b ...for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
      6. What is not of faith is not pleasing to God
      7. Heb 11:6    But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
    2. We're Responsible for Our Response
      Mar 4:24-25   And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. 25   For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.
      1. ​​​​​​​Take care to listen and obey...listen to these words carefully and make them personally because your reward depends upon them.
      2. He that hears, more will be given him...but he that disregards the words of Jesus, even the reward that he has will be taken from him.

Verses 26-35

  1. We're to Sow and Trust God
    1. Unknown Growth
      Mar 4:26-29    And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; 27 And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. 28 For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. 29   But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.
      1. But again, we find that we're to be sharing the Love of Christ -- sowing the seed. We don't have to understand why it works or how it works.
      2. We do need to realize that it must be shared using the Word...
        1. ​​​​​​​Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
      3. Also, it is not our responsibility to bring in the Harvest...just plant the seed, encourage those around us and trust God for the outcome.
      4. 1Co 3:7-9 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
      5. This opens the discussion of attitude – remember in Romans what Paul said regarding serving the Lord:
      6. Rom 12:1-3 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. {and then he says…} 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
      7. Humility is required!
      8. Php 2:3, 5 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
      9. Why humility? …Our rewards in Heaven depend upon our submission and attitude!
      10. 1Co 3:11-15 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
      11. In fact, Paul finishes this particular discourse to the Corinthian church by reminding them (AND US!) that we are not our own – rather we belong to Christ
      12. 1Co 3:23 And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.
      13. And he echoes this sentiment again in 1Cor 6…
      14. 1Co 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
      15. What’s the point? Why am I sharing this? Where is my heart here?
      16. Mat 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
    2. The Mustard Tree
      Mar 4:30-34 And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? 31It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: 32  But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it. 33  And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. 34  But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.
      1. ​​​​​​​To interpret this parable...we have to remember what Jesus said earlier in the chapter:
        1. ​​​​​​​Mar 4:13    And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?
      2. This shows us the Kingdom here on earth can grow inordinately large...the mustard plant normally grows small although in Israel it can be seen to be 7' tall.
      3. We must not limit it's growth but also understand that it's growth may not be all positive...why?
      4. It has birds lodging under it -- finding shelter by it... remember, birds in the first parable - the parable of the sower and the seed represents Satan.
      5. Just like the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matt 13:25, not all in residing in the shadow of the church may be saved. Thus, evangelism in the church is extraordinarily important.
      6. 2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Verses 36-41

  1. We're to Walk in Faith
    Mark 4:36-41 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. 37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
    1. We see by this that faith and fear are inversely proportional.
      1. The greater our faith...the lower the fear; and the greater our fear, the lower the faith!
    2. So…What are we afraid of? Sharing our faith? Getting sick? Dying?
    3. Are we afraid of a thief or losing some “thing” that’s important? Are we afraid of spiders, snakes or clowns? …what fears do we have? Are we like Charlie Brown and are afraid of everything?
    4. And, how do we get past our fears?
    5. We see here that to have more faith means we will have less fear – is our faith growing? Are we taking in the Word?
    6. Do we read the BIBLE – The inspired Word of God daily? Do we read thru it every year or so…we should have that as a goal.
    7. The Bible teaches that we are to have an “OUT-WARD” focus – not a focus on ourselves?
    8. Our faith will not grow near so quickly if our focus is on ourselves! We must move past our selves and our fears and trust God and His promises and His Word!
    9. How big is GOD to you? Is He not big enough to protect you, purge you or heal you? Do you realize that God is on your side?
    10. Do we also realize that EVERYTHING is filtered by God and our problems, tribulations and troubles are allowed to hit us so that we might grow and be humbled and become more like Jesus?
    11. Do you know what one of my fears is? …One of My greatest fears as a Pastor is not seeing you hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!”
    12. God desires for us to be totally committed to Him – totally focused on pleasing Him no matter our walk in life.
    13. He desires that we be living sacrifices (Rom 12:1) 24x7x365…at work, at home, in leisure and in church!
    14. God told Joshua before they crossed into the promised land: Jos 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
    15. Psa 56:3-4 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. 4 In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
    16. Isa 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
    17. Fear will hinder us and bind us – it keeps us from sharing Christ’s love with the World…it prevents us from being the person God wants us to be.
    18. Fear tells us, in v. 40, that welack faith…and we must remember that without faith it is impossible to please God!
    19. Thus we won’t hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”!
    20. But God tells us that He doesn’t give us fear, but power, love and a sound mind! If we are walking in fear we are not walking according to the Holy Spirit of God and we will miss the incredible and eternal blessings of God for those areas of our lives that are hindered by fear!
  2. Conclusion
    1. ​​​​​​​What are you afraid of?
    2. Do you live your life to please God?
    3. Do you sow the seeds of God’s Love? Sharing the Word of God and His love?
    4. ​​​​​​​Do you live your life as a new creation enjoying your relationship with the Living God – Jesus…set free to simply know Him and make Him known?
    5. Pray to fall more in Love with Jesus every day…
    6. And be of good courage…for Jesus is right beside you!
Bibliographical Information
Brown, Jim. "Commentary on Mark 4". "Brown's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnc/mark-4.html. 2017.
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