Tag Archive | Parables of Jesus

Mark 4, Matthew 12 – The Disciples ask “Why?”

READ Mark 4:10-12 (with Matthew 12:10-17)

Yesterday was a look at the first parable of Jesus about the soils (the sower). I imagined how those listeners would have responded to this as they walked home. (See yesterday’s “long” post.)

When the crowd had gone, the disciples came to Him with a question. Mark 4:10.

By looking at Matthew’s fuller account of the disciples coming to Jesus afterwards, we see what they asked Him.

“Why do you speak in parables?” Good Question.

Jesus’s answer, “To YOU has been given the secret of the Kingdom of God, but for THOSE OUTSIDE…everything is in parables.”

Huh? Doesn’t Jesus want everybody to know about the Kingdom of God, and how to get into it????

(Your assignment: Check out the following passages in Matthew and I’ll answer that question – if you still need it – afterwards.

1. Matthew 4:23 – What does this say about what Jesus was doing after He chose his disciples?

2. Matthew 5:1 – 7:29 – (with particular attention to 5:2 and 7:28/29) Okay, What do all these verses show in detail that Jesus was DOING all this time?

3. In the next chapters of Matthew, we see Jesus continuing to heal the sick and deliver the demon possessed (such compassion!) and to teach His OWN DISCIPLES some strong things about persecution and the end times, etc. WHY is He now mostly just teaching THEM??

The end of Matthew 11 shows the Jewish officials accusing him of having an unclean spirit, and his family wanting Him to come away and get some food and rest. (Wednesday’s post)

And THEN…………… he gets into a boat and teaches the crowd on the shore….. in a PARABLE. (Yesterday’s post)

Do you see why?

The crowds have been divided into 1) those who believe and follow Jesus, and 2) those only seeking healing or to hassle Him.

Jesus answers their WHY question here,

“To the one who HAS (belief in Him and understanding of who He is) more will be given and he will have an abundance. BUT from the one who HAS NOT (those who reject Him and his teaching), even what they have (clear teaching to this point) will be taken away.”

“THIS is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do NOT see (me as Savior) and hearing, they do NOT hear (my teaching) nor do they understand.”

Got it?

Then Jesus give a blessing to those who DO believe and follow Him,

“Blessed are your eyes, for they see and your ears for they hear. For truly I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see and did not see it, and to hear what you hear and did not hear it.

Then (Mark 4:14-20) Jesus goes on to tell them the meaning of the Parable of the (Sower and the) Soils, which – if they understand – will help to understand the rest of Jesus’ “kingdom” parables.

Mark 4 – Parable of the Sower and the Soil

Mark 4:1-9

Jesus, with crowds pressing from every side, makes slow progress down to the sea. He gets into one of the boats (Peter & Andrew”s, or the Zebedee family’s) and pushes a little way out.

Suddenly there is space between Him and the people. More can see Him and hear Him now and he begins to teach. Perhaps the people even sit down along the shore that gradually slopes up into the rolling farm land behind.

Jesus catches His breath, communes with His Father for a few seconds, then gazes beyond the people to the farm land, where perhaps barley is growing 8-10 inches high.

And He tells them a parable about growing a good harvest, that it all depends upon the soil. Would they HEAR?

1/  A hard beaten path does not receive the good seed. The seeds lie there briefly until birds spot them and fly down to eat them.

2/  Areas of thin soil with a hillock of rock just beneath, take in the good seed, sprout it, but there’s nothing to support growth and the seedling dies.

3/  Soil with healthy weeds growing receive a bit of the good seed between the stalks, but this seed fights a losing battle for moisture, nutrients, and sunshine. It can’t grow strong enough to produce grain, and dies barren.

4/  But good, cultivated, deep rich soil gets seed too. It is nourished, warmed, protected from birds and weeds. It sends down roots, grows up healthy and produces a harvest.

~~~ You’ve heard this parable many times, and know what it means, but what of that crowd along the shore?

As Jesus finishes speaking and the disciples row the boat out into the water, the crowd makes their way home. They walk on paths and roads through the growing barley… and wonder at this perplexing story Jesus told.

As they walked did they see where seed had been sown along the well-beaten path? Did they step on a few missed by the birds? And were there some seeds that had struggled up but been scorched, now lay brown against the thin soil? Did these folk spot a few spindly blades between thick weeds, trying to compete with their aggressive neighbors?

Why had Jesus told this story of failure and loss?

Then perhaps as the walked farther, and lifted their eyes and saw good plants heading out with grain and a promise of harvest.

Maybe some began to understand. ALL the SEED had life in it. It was WHERE it landed that mattered.

Jesus had said those strange words, “He who has ears, let them hear.” Did this good seed represent the things Jesus was teaching….scattered among many, many “ears” in the crowd? They’d all heard them, right?

Or…. maybe not.

1/  Some said, “Oh, I didn’t understand a thing He said. And my mind is on the good dinner my wife is preparing. Now there’s something to think about.”

2/  Others said, “Oh, His words sound good, but I don’t go along with what He teaches. I’m sticking with what the Pharisees teach. They know the law. I trust them.”

3/  Still others said, “Well, what Jesus says kind of makes sense. And his miracles are spectacular, but when He says His followers must leave everything behind to follow Him…. well, I’ve got a family, and a business. I have kids to plan the future for. I’ve just no time to follow Him. Besides… it sounds scary to just leave everything and walk away.”

4/  But…. some of their “ears” (hearts, understanding) were open to “hear” His teaching and the meaning of His words, and receive it like the good soil.

And there would be an abundant harvest in their lives.