Mark's life and ministry of Jesus Christ. (Mark 4:1-20)
Satan did not like Jesus teaching because he knew he would lose his own grip on the people. By using the Old Testament scriptures, Jesus made
His authority evident. By using parables, He made His application clear to those who would come to Him for the key.
The purpose of Jesus’ parables
He wanted to teach the people. They wanted to learn and so they came and listened. He wanted to teach, so he willingly spent hour after hour
teaching them. He spoke sometimes to crowds, sometimes to chosen
people and sometimes only to His close disciples. God endows human
teachers today, but we must be careful to listen to what God Himself is saying to
them and through them. The Holy Spirit is our guide into truth.
He wanted to build up the people. Verse 2 says: ‘He taught them many
things.’ Not one or two, but many. Some were foundational. Some were
structural. Some were functional for the practical outworking of others
that were theological.
Scripture as a whole has many values.
God’s word gives light (Psalm 119:130);
it gives truth (Psalm 119:160);
it gives faith (Romans 10:17);
it helps overcome sin (Psalm 119:11).
To try and live the Christian life without Scripture is as futile as sailing the
oceans without a chart or building a house without a plan.
He wanted to illustrate truth. The very word ‘parable’ means ‘to place one
thing beside another in order to compare it’. It is a parallel that makes
you able to understand some aspect of the kingdom of heaven. It is a
simple story to illustrate a significant truth. A parable, like a good visual
aid, should illustrate truth, induce understanding and instil some thought
of the kingdom of heaven in the listener.
The wonder of Jesus’ word
This is shown by the parable in Mark 4:1-20. Perhaps Jesus looked across
to the hills and saw an Eastern farmer sowing his seed amid the encircling
birds. He used it as a picture of His own work and that of Christian
preachers and teachers down through the years.
God’s seed is planted (v.14). This is defined in Luke 8:11 as being the word
of God. Just as every seed contains life, so does every word of God. Just
as every seed holds potential, so does every word of God. Just as every
seed will reproduce itself so will every word of God. The Bible is in itself
a miracle from God – many human authors having been inspired by God to
write it. Through the centuries men have banned the Bible, burned the
Bible, distorted the Bible, doubted the Bible, hated the Bible and hidden
the Bible only to find that God’s seed keeps on growing. This does not
mean that the Bible is getting bigger, it means that what God does in the
lives of men and women through His word is becoming more hour by hour.
God’s servants are produced (v.8). Jesus’ own explanation given in verse
20 encourages all Christians to put God’s word into their hearts, their
minds and their lives. It is beyond doubt the best investment you will
ever make. God’s word can make you what God wants you to be, if you will
allow it to judge you, correct you, instruct you and build you up.
The strategy of Satan
Our Enemy will always attack God’s word. He will snatch away the seed
(v.15). He will scorch those who have no roots (v.17). He will stifle those
who have desires in other directions (v.19). Do you realise that your
pressing need to do something at the expense of Bible reading and study
is from Satan? The thing that stops you from attending teaching classes
is probably from Satan, be it tiredness, a feeling of irrelevance, laziness,
other activity, or whatever. No seed snatched away ever bore fruit. No
seed scorched ever bore fruit. No seed stifled ever bore fruit.
Discussion guide for ‘the message of Jesus Christ’
Bible reading Mark 4:1-20
1. What is a “parable”, Mark 4:2?
2. Why did Jesus use so many parables in His teaching,
see Mark 4:10-12; 4:33-34; also Matthew 13:10-17?
3. How does the parable of the Sower encourage you as a Christian,
Matthew 4:3-9; 4:13-20? (Consider the seed of God’s word in your
own life and in your witness to others).
4. What do you learn from the same parable about Satan and God’s
word? Explain from your own life how he tries to do this.
5. Share all the other parables Jesus told, every one you can think of.
Do you remember the meaning and application to life, as well as the
6. What does this ‘message of Jesus’ mean in your own life?
7. Are there any questions to pray about or to ask another Christian