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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary
Mark 4



Verses 24-41

Getting What You Give

Mark 4:24-41


There are many "as" and "sos" in the "Word of God. These cover various lines of consideration. Let us suggest one or two of these before we take up the study proper.

Jesus said: "As Jonas * * so shall the Son of Man." Here is a comparison setting forth the experiences of Jonah in the whale's belly, and his being cast forth on to the land, as typical of Christ buried, and risen again.

"As it was in the days of Lot," so in the days of the Coming of the Son of Man. This along with "As it was in the days of Noe, so * * in the days of the Son of Man." Here the most striking "as" and "so" covers a tremendous scope of time. The Lord Jesus stood, as it were, on the middle ground. With one hand, He reached far back to the days of Lot and of Noah, while with the other hand, He reached far on into the days of His Second Advent and said, "as" and "so." In this, He made history forecast prophecy.

Once again, Christ said: "As Moses * * so must the Son of Man." This time He referred to Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness, and He made it a picture of His own lifting up on the Tree.

With the above suggestions before us, let us observe some things where the "as" and "so" bring home to our own lives some tremendous lessons.

1. As we give, it shall be given to us again. God has placed His munificence toward us upon the basis of our munificence toward Him. He says: "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over."

It is written: "The liberal soul shall be made fat." Again, it is written: "There is that withholdeth * * but it tendeth to poverty." Accordingly, "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully."

How wonderful it all is. "God loveth a cheerful giver," and when He finds one He is able to make all grace abound to such an one, that he in turn may abound in every good work.

Let us all beware lest in our withholding from God, God shall withhold from us.

2. As we forgive, we shall be forgiven. It is not necessary to enlarge upon this. We remember the story of Peter and his question, "How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven."

After the words above, the Lord told a parable of one who had been forgiven ten thousand talents, and who in turn refused to forgive an hundred pence. The lord of this man hearing of his case was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

After the parable was over, Christ said: "So likewise shall My Heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."


1. In the realm of service our verse is true. We bring to your remembrance the story of the pounds in Luke 19:1-48 , and of the talents in Matthew 25:1-46 . In the case of the pounds, the man who had failed God, and had wrapped up his pound in a napkin lost his pound. To him, Christ said: "Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. * * For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him."

In the case of the talents, Christ said practically the same thing, adding: "For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance."

If we want large rewards at the Second Coming of Christ, we must present large service now, for we shall receive every one according to his work.

2. In the realm of rewards and punishment our verse is again true. "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you." Every one of us should weigh our every act and our every word. Everything we do has a tremendous influence upon what we shall receive in the days to come.

Had you ever weighed this statement, "He that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword." Sins as well as good deeds act as a boomerang bringing back upon our own heads, according to that we have bestowed upon others.

Let a man enrich himself by impoverishing those with whom he has dealt, God will impoverish him. Let a man accuse another falsely of some heinous crime or deed, he himself, according to God's Law of retribution, will ever stand in danger of being accused.

Remember, God has said: "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

II. THE LAW OF INCREASE (Mark 4:26-28 )

The three verses before us are freighted with wonderful truth.

1. Our mind goes back to the beginnings of the Gospel. The sower of Mark 4:26 is Jesus Christ, and His servant. The seed sown is the Gospel. The ground is the world.

Our mind goes back to the small beginnings of the Church. The one hundred and twenty in the upper room. The preachings at Pentecost. The three thousand saved and baptized. The unspeakable joy and gladness among the saints as they break their bread from house to house, praising God.

Our mind now looks at the present survey, the multiplied millions who bend the knee to the Son of God and acclaim Him Lord and Saviour. The multitudes baptized, their gifts of millions to evangelization, their prayers, their hymns of praise. Surely, there has been an abundant harvest from so small a beginning.

2. Our mind considers how it all has happened. Mark 4:27 tells us of one sowing his seed, and then he sleeps, and rising night and day he beholds the seed springing up and growing, "He knoweth not how."

How often have we stood amazed at the far-reaching blessings which have accrued from our own seed sowing. When, however, we observe the combined growth from the combined sowings of the gospel seed, how much more are we amazed.

It has all happened according to the words of the Saviour, which He spoke to Nicodemus, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."

With Nicodemus we cry, "How can these things be?" We see the results of the Gospel, and yet, we cannot comprehend its mighty power of accomplishment.

Truly, God has been with us, even as He said when He went away.

III. STEP BY STEP (Mark 4:28 )

Our verse runs like this: "For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear."

We see a steady growth. Wherever we turn in nature all of this comes before us. Christ Himself took us to the cornfield. He described how the little blade shot up, then afterward the ear, then still later on the full corn in the ear.

1. This is the story of the Christian's personal experiences. "That which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die." The believer who would become fruitful in service must be willing to take his place alongside the grain of corn. He must be willing to be cast into his grave and die die to the world, die to self, to ambition, to pride.

The grave is the place of separation, decomposition, and death. It is, however, only as we die that we can bring forth much fruit. If the grain of corn does not die, it abideth alone. So, also, if we would spare our life, holding it back from death, we shall lose our life. But if we gladly go with Christ into His death, we shall find our life in a glorious resurrection service.

2. This is the story of the Gospel's harvest. The part before suggested to us the growth of the seed sowing of the early Church. We wish to present this same conception in our daily tasks.

Too many Christians have an ambition to see great things immediately occur. We forget that there must be seedtime as well as harvest. That there must be the growing season as well as the gathering season. Can we remember how Adoniram Judson and William Carey labored for years before they reaped their harvest. Can we remember the days when Robert Morrison stood without the walled city of Canton and cried: "Give me China or I die." In Christian service, there must be first the blade, then the ear, and after that the full corn in the ear.

IV. HARVEST HOME (Mark 4:29 )

Our mind now goes to the time of harvest. Mark 4:29 says: "But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come."

1. There is the individual harvest. We can almost hear the Apostle Paul saying, "Dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and my crown, so stand fast in the Lord." Some one wrote this beautiful little couplet:

"Oh, it would every toil repay,

If just some one would gladly say

To Jesus up in Heav'n some day,

Dear Lord, he taught my lips to pray."

We agree with the couplet. There could be no greater joy to us as we enter Heaven's glory than to see some precious souls whom we had led to Christ. On the other hand, how sad our hearts would be if we had no sheaves to lay at the Master's feet in that day of harvest home.

2. There is the general harvest.

(1) The harvest of the world. Saints are not the only ones who reap harvests. In the 14th chapter of Revelation we read of how the angel cried, "Thrust in Thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for Thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe."

During the centuries the world populace has been sowing its seed, and its harvest is almost here.

(2) The harvest of the Church. As the years have passed, the Church has been gathering out of the nations a people for His Name. How wonderful will be the harvest home when we all stand before the throne of God and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. In that gathering the redeemed from every nation, tongue and tribe will gather around the Throne of God, and of the Lamb and ascribe unto Him, "Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power."

V. THE MUSTARD SEED (Mark 4:31-32 )

The Lord Jesus spoke another parable saying: "Whereunto shall we liken the Kingdom of God?" He said then that it was like a grain of mustard seed.

1. The small beginning. The grain of mustard seed is the least of all seeds that is sown in the earth. It teaches us not only of the small beginnings of the Church, but it also teaches us not to despise the day of small things in our own lives. Even a word, fitly spoken, may result in untold blessings. A little deed of kindness may shake a kingdom.

It was one of our greatest men who said, that he never saw an urchin on the street but that he felt like doffing his hat, because he might be speaking to the coming President of the United States.

2. The present day sweep of the Church. How wonderful it has been after nineteen hundred years: it behooves us to stop a moment to see if we can catch the united and unified voice of praise that ascends on any one Sunday to the Throne of God.

Perhaps, we can with our mind's ear catch the unified voice of the great volume of prayer that ascends to God on any one Lord's Day.

Perhaps, we can. with enlarged vision view the united gifts which are laid upon the Lord's altar; or the united service, which is rendered unto Christ in any one day of rest.

3. The birds lodging in the branches. Our Lord could not forecast the story of the mustard seed, and the mighty tree, without faithfully prophesying the sad fact that the birds of the air had lodged in the branches thereof. The fowls are spoken of in another parable as being the children of the wicked one. How sad it is that in the great growth of the Church, which is abnormal in part, there is to be found in our day such a mixture. In the church tree there are not only those who are born again, but there are those who follow Satan. In many places, the world dominates the church.


1. The storms which swept against the Son of God. Our Saviour, after His parable was spoken, entered into a little ship to go across the sea. "He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow." "There arose a great storm of Wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full."

The storms of that sea suggest unto us the wrath of Satan against the Son of God. During the ages the devil had sought by every strategy to keep the promised Seed of the woman from being born. Now that Christ had come, Satan was doing everything he could to slay the Seed.

2. The storms which sweep against the Church. The Lord is not the only one whom Satan seeks to slay. Christ said: "If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His household?"

He also said "Ye know that it hated Me before it hated you, * * If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you." So it is unto this day. If anyone lives godly in Christ Jesus, he suffers persecution. Not only that, but the Church that stands separated unto God will also suffer.

3. The other little boats. Mark 4:36 presents a tremendous truth. It says: "And there were also with Him other little ships." This is the lesson we would impart; no man liveth unto himself. Everything that affects one life, affects other lives. This is true whether it be bane or blessing. The storm which struck the Saviour and His little boat, fell likewise upon those in the other little boats. Later on, the calm which quieted the storm against the ship wherein Christ lay, also quieted the storm for the other little boats.

Life is like a great train of cars. Each individual life is linked to every other life.


1. The care of the Master discounted. The disciples awoke Christ saying, "Master, carest Thou not that we. perish?" How oft are we tempted to doubt Christ. When the billows toss and the winds howl about us, we think that God has forgotten us. We forget that the very hairs of our head are all numbered. We forget that He whose eye is on the sparrow, never fails to watch over us.

Can He forget His own? He who watches over us never slumbers, and never sleeps. Great is His faithfulness; it is renewed every morning; it is fresh every evening.

2. The disciples rebuked. The twelve had discounted their Lord's care; He now rebukes their lack of faith. To them, He said: "Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?"

Did they not know that the ship could not sink so long as He was in it? Do we not know that we are safe as long as we are under His care, and as long as He walks beside us on the way? We might fail Him; He will never fail us.

3. The Master glorified. After He had rebuked the disciples, He arose and said unto the sea, "Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." Thus it was that the wrath of Satan became the opportunity for Christ to be glorified. Thus it was that through much fear and testing the disciples were led to give honor unto the One who delivered them. Here is what they said one to another, "What manner of Man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"

Let us imagine that the hour has come when Christ shall speak peace to a troubled world: the tribulation has run its course, the antichrist is overthrown, Jesus Christ reigns: the world glorifies Christ, the Prince of Peace,


How our lives may influence others, or, be influenced by others is illustrated below:

"A little clock in a jeweler's window in a certain Western town, stopped one day for half an hour at fifteen minutes of nine. School children, noticing the time, stopped to play; people hurrying to the train, looking at the clock, began to walk leisurely; professional men, rushing to meet appointments, saw the time and walked slower; business men after a look at the clock stopped to chat a minute with one another; workingmen and women noted the time and lingered a little longer in the sunshine, and all were half an hour late because one small clock had stopped. Never had these people known how much they had depended upon that clock, till it had led them astray. Many are thus unconsciously depending upon the influence of Christians; you may think you have no influence, but you cannot go wrong in one little act without leading others astray.

"Every Christian citizen should so live in his personal habits, and in his attitude as a citizen that those who keep watch of him shall make no blunder as to the time of day in character and citizenship."


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Mark 4:4". "Living Water".

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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