Mark 4: “This is what God’s kingdom is like”

Vincent Van Gogh, "The Sower," 1888

What is this “kingdom” that Jesus speaks of so often, usually in parables?  (If you aren’t reading the comments, click here to read Eddy Efaw’s comment yesterday on the power of parables still today in our image-rich culture — it’s worth the extra minute.)

  • The kingdom is a message that varies in effect based on the heart-soil of the hearer (4:1-20)
  • The kingdom is meant to be shown to everyone around, like a lamp on a stand (4:21-22)
  • The kingdom is a system of infinite generosity, if you will be a conduit of blessing (4:24-25a)
  • The kingdom has within itself the power to grow without human aid, if simply planted and received (4:26-29)
  • The kingdom can grow from the smallest of beginnings to the greatest harbor of life and protection (4:30-32)

Note that once again this kingdom is described as a here-and-now reality, at least in its beginning.

As with most teachers I know, my favorite verses of all in this chapter are the following:

Once upon a time a man sowed seed on the ground.  Every night he went to bed; every day he got up; and the seed sprouted and grew without him knowing how it did it. (4:26b-27)

I think for those of us who teach — school, Sunday School, or our own children — these words are both humbling and reassuring.  Spiritual growth ultimately does not depend completely upon us.  Thankfully.

What did you learn in this chapter?

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Categories: Mark | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Mark 4: “This is what God’s kingdom is like”

  1. If Jesus is a farmer and his follower/Christian is seed. Not many will grown what Jesus assume, many will straw away from what he teach. Most of them not even worthy. .

    He who has ears to hear, let him hear

    • It is probably better to think of the seed in the Sower parable as the message/word sown into the lives/hearts of people. The people would be the different kinds of soil. True Christians would be the fruitful soil. Jesus shows incredible realism here: many people will receive the word, some will try to follow for a time until they give up, and some will take God’s words and slowly but surely spirituality will grow in their lives. These last people would be Jesus’ followers.

  2. The secret of kingdom is given to the twelve and others. Interestingly “the others” is inside the parable.

    If Jesus is a farmer and his follower/Christian is seed. Not many will grown what Jesus wanted, many will straw away from what he teach. Most of them not even worthy (verse 15- 19).

    The sentence here quite strong : v12 -they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!

    Is it what Jesus preach different from what Christianity preach. Which seed are currently you stay? Are you in correct seed. Many will say “Yes, I am” but Jesus said: He who has ears to hear, let him hear. I think Jesus meaning here is wisdom. Not just listen blindly to Synagog, or may be today churches.

    Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you–and even more.
    It kinda like a warning. “it will be measured to you–and even more”

    What I can criticize here, many, when crowd listen to Jesus and hear his word, many will turn to him. But what happen today, when people (Christian) listen to Bible, and critic it, many will turn away from him.

    Verse 40, He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?
    Verse 41, disciples questioned him, Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

    Author still want to hide Jesus identity. I just give a glance in wiki (I am too lazy to read all, so I going to follow Jason schedule), actually book of Mark conceal Jesus identity. So I will not found anything about Jesus being God in this chapter.

    St Mark conceal Jesus identity, but reveal Judas identity, before Judas do anything yet , but Jesus is reveal as “Son of God”. Interesting, still it too early, just finish Mark 4.

  3. Eddy Efaw

    “The kingdom is a system of infinite generosity” = a wonderful understand of those verses!

    Thy “system of infinite generosity” come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven! Amen. And it HAS come. It’s us. It’s the church. May we be ready, willing, and actively giving with infinite generosity of the gifts, money, time and talents that God has so abundantly given to us.

  4. Courtney Garland

    Verse 22 is what stands out to me the most as I read today. All that is hidden is to be disclosed. All that is secret should come to light. God is constantly pulling us into the light, and satan is constantly telling us to hide. If we find ourselves saying or hearing “don’t tell anyone, but …” or “It’s ok, you don’t have to tell anyone”, those words are not likely filled with truth and light. In my new context I am much more aware of the presence of darkness. That strong man mentioned in chapter 3 is real, we should put some energy into tying up him up and shining light into our lives and the lives of others. Our eyes should always remain fixed on Jesus, but we cannot ignore the battle waging around us either.

  5. Eddy

    I’m always struck by how often Jesus spoke in stories. It stood out to me via the Message in versee 33-34 that these stories matched the hearer in experience and in maturity. It gives me comfort to know that Jesus tailors his teaching like that with me. One size doesn’t fit all with the words of Jesus but he does expect us all to grow from where we are. I wonder if the stories are like the sun and rain that make the seeds grow at night???

  6. “Are you listening to this? Really listening?” I have to admit that is the phrase I needed to hear the most this year. Every year gets busier at home and school. Multitasking and split attention are the norm. Run, run, run. So how is my soil? A bit too thorny, I guess. There aren’t a lot of “things [I] want to get” but the list of “things [I] have to do” never seems to end. It makes it so hard to hear, really hear.

    Interestingly, the line from the Message’s rendering that was most enticing was this: “But the seed planted in the good earth represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams.” That sounds wonderful!

  7. For me, the “generosity begets generosity” portion of the text spoke the loudest today. That said, I wonder if I’m not a little too thorny as well these days, Jason. Courtney, what is your “new context?” I’m beyond out of the loop. 🙂

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