4:1 Teaching the Parables
SUMMARY OF MARK 4:
The Sower, the Seed, the Soil. The Parable Explained. The Candle Under a Bushel. The Seed Growing Secretly. The Grain of Mustard Seed. The Storm on the Sea.
He began again to teach by the sea side. This is the first recorded teaching in parables. For notes on the parable of the Sower, see Mt 13:1-23. Compare Lu 8:4-15. Mark's report is nearly that of Matthew, word for word, as well as of the explanation that follows. Matthew gives much the fullest account of this day's teaching, reporting a number of parables not found elsewhere.
4:12 That seeing they may see. Matthew gives this saying more fully and clearly. See notes on Mt 13:13,14.
4:21 Is a candle... put under a bushel? The Jews used lamps instead of candles. These were set on, not a candlestick, but a light stand. See PNT Mt 5:15. It is possible that these words, as well as Mr 4:24, were not spoken on this day, but borrowed from the Sermon on the Mount, because they are parables of a certain kind.
4:24 Take heed what ye hear. Lu 8:18 says, 'How' you hear. Both admonitions are very important. Our ears should be deaf to evil counsel. We should hear attentively, earnestly and devoutly the word of the Lord.
4:26 So is the kingdom of God. This parable is given only by Mark, but its general lesson is enforced by parallel passages, e.g. Isa 55:10,11 Jas 5:7,8 1Pe 1:23-25. In the kingdom of grace, as in nature, we are laborers together with God; the results of our work depend on him, and for the perfection of these results he takes his own time (1Co 3:6-9). Hence, (1) it is ours to sow the seed (the truth), his to give it growth; (2) having sown, we are to wait for time and God to perfect it; (3) this he does according to the definite order of development--first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear; (4) not until there has been time for the development, are we to expect to reap. The lesson is one of trust and hope.
Should cast seed. The word of God, the Gospel.
4:27 Should sleep, and rise, etc. While giving the seed sown time to germinate and come forth.
4:28 First the blade. There is a law of orderly development in natural growth, so also is it in reference to spiritual growth. Compare 1Jo 2:12-14. Some growths are quicker than others, but in all there is growth. And we have no right to look for the end at the beginning, the ripened Christian experience in the young convert, the full corn in the first appearance of the blade. Observe, too, that we can know that there is growth by its results, though we know not how, and that each stage of the growth is more apparent than the preceding stage.
4:29 Immediately he putteth in the sickle. The time of harvest is when the fruit is ripe; in this instance when the word had produced faith, repentance and obedience. Then those who exhibit the fruit are to be gathered into the church.
4:31 Like a grain of mustard seed. See note on Mt 13:31-35. Compare Lu 13:18-19.
4:34 Without a parable, etc. See notes on Mt 13:36-43.
4:35 The same day. The days the parables were uttered.
Unto the other side. Of the sea of Galilee.
4:37 There arose a great storm of wind. See notes on Mt 8:23-27. Compare Lu 8:22-25. The Sea of Galilee lies 600 feet below the level of the Mediterranean and has a tropical climate. Only a short distance north are the high mountains of Lebanon. The heated air about the sea invites the rush of cold waves from the mountains.
4:41 They feared exceedingly. The disciples in the boat. Such an astounding display of power, the control of the storm in which are as helpless as infants, filled them with awe. What manner of being could he be whom storm, wind, and sea obeyed? They had not yet learned that the word which the sea obeyed was the word in obedience to which the world itself was made.