“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. Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching: ‘Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.’ And He said to them, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’” Mark 4:1-9.
Mark 3:1-6 began with Jesus entering a synagogue and healing a man with a withered hand, which resulted in the Pharisees plotting with the Herodians to destroy Him.
“Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.” Mark 3:6.
“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.’” Psalm 2:2-3.
Mark 3:7-12 finds Jesus by the sea healing multitudes and Mark 3:13 records Him going up onto a mountain to select the twelve disciples.
Finally the scribes accused Jesus of casting out demons by Beelzebub chief of the demons Mark 3:22.
“And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebub,’ and, ‘By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.’” Mark 3:22.
Often when in a trial the demonic will give you a double hit. Usually it is just so much noise – but it is very frightening, so pray about it and it will be easily resolved, at least this has been my experience.
In Jesus’ case He is accused of being demon possessed, and His family thinks because of the crowds constantly following Him that He has gone mad!
“But when His own people heard about this [the crowds], they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, ‘He is out of His mind.’” Mark 3:21.
It is in Mark 3:22-30 that Jesus described the unpardonable sin. This is the background leading up to our study which follows.
“Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation’ – because they said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’” Mark3:28-30.
We now find Him again at the seashore speaking to the multitudes. There is now a change, Jesus speaks to them only in parables.
Jesus, the Messiah came to the Jews with the offer of setting up the kingdom of God right then, but by the end of Mark chapter three after the religious leaders accused Him of casting out demons by Satan it was the final rejection by the nation of Jesus the King.
This rejection was complete and obvious when all of the representatives of the nation delivered Christ up to Pilate to be crucified.
“Immediately, in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate.” Mark 15:1.
“Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour [9 am]. And he said to the Jews, ‘Behold your King!’ But they cried out, ‘Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar!’” John 19:14-15.
This blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and rejection of Christ is also recorded in Matthew chapter 12, with the parable of the sower being recorded in chapter 13, and again in Luke chapter 8.
A parable is a short allegorical story designed to convey a truth or a moral lesson. Be careful when examining parables, they do not have to sit on all fours.
In other words, if one has to twist and bend the parable in an effort to make all the details fit it is possible that all of the details do not have to fit.
Fortunately some, like the sower and the tares (Matthew 13) are given detailed explanations by the Lord Himself. Please read Matthew chapter 13, there is a great deal more in it.
While we have the Lord to explain the meaning of some of His parables, others may become clearer when taken in context with the whole chapter or chapters, which will require careful study and research.
In the case of the sower here, the Lord gave ample warning to His hearers that what He said needed to be carefully considered; this is for us too.
“Listen!” is the first warning; listen carefully to what I am about to say. And then the Lord closed with these words which He often repeated during His ministry, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
These are warning words which should make us all pay close attention to what follows. Other words were “Verily, verily”; “Truly, truly, I say unto you”; and “Most assuredly”, all of these are words of Christ which proclaim that there is a hard truth to follow.
In spite of the fact that parables were difficult to understand, and meant to be so, anyone who did not understand but was genuinely desirous of knowing what the Lord meant could go to Him and He would explain it, which is exactly what the next few verses show.
“But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. 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, 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.”’ And He said to them, ‘Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?’” Mark 4:10-13.
These parables (dark sayings and figures of speech) are meant to prevent the looky loos and folks who came for the amusement of seeing miracles and hearing a sermon by Jesus from understanding the mysteries of the kingdom of God which were unknown to Israel.
The disciples were the twelve, along with numerous other individuals who followed Christ, these may have seen and not perceived and heard and not understood, but they had the good sense not to just walk away.
They had ears to hear and they listened, and seeing that there was more than met the eye, they asked.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6.
The Lord made a curious statement before He began to answer their question; “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?”
Jesus does not ask this question in Matthew 13 or Luke 8, though He does say a number of other things which you should read when you get time.
When you read those accounts you will find that they both say that the disciples asked Jesus to explain the parable of the sower. The natural thing is to assume that it means the twelve disciples only, but here in Mark it states as follows.
“But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable.” Mark 4:10.
Mark 4:10 mentions the twelve disciples and it mentions those around Him, this could be a very large number of people who had accepted Jesus as their Messiah and teacher and they were His disciples.
Consider this; anyone who accepts Christ as their Savior and really determines to follow Him becomes His disciple. I have found that there are many Christians but few disciples.
It is these numerous disciples that Jesus is speaking to when He says, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?”
The twelve disciples/apostles were called out to be with Christ continually and they were being given the information they needed to carry the gospel forth and set up the church after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and return to the Father.
This larger group of disciples would not be with Him continually, their number fluctuating up and down as they came and went from His presence.
So it is to this larger group that He says, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all of the parables?” Indeed, then, how will any of us understand the parables without Jesus to explain them to us? Shall we just say, “This is too difficult, I will ignore it?”
No, the point here is that they are important and they are understandable to those who are His own. It is the second question that in part contains the answer. How is any Scripture understood except by the teaching of the Holy Spirit?
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-14.
“These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:13-16.
Good Earth, Part 1 taken from godisrevealed.com updated on 11-16-18, reposted on 3-10-22.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.