In this chapter Mark tells of some of Jesus’ arguably most famous and well known parables.
The first is the parable of the sower and soils. “3 “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. 6 And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 8 Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” 9 And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”” (NASB).
After Jesus preached this to the crowd from a boat, his disciples were confused as to what its meaning was. Jesus then explains what it meant in the next verses.
“13 And He *said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. 16 In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; 17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.20 And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.””
After this Jesus tells them to shine their light and not hide it. He also says to be careful as to what they listen to.
The next Parable is the parable of the seed. It compares the kingdom of God to a man putting his seed on the soil. It grows, but he doesn’t know how. The soil grows the seed one section at a time. This too is how our faith grows. When the crop is ready, it will be harvested.
The final parable is probably one of the most well known parables in the Bible. It is the parable of the mustard seed. A mustard seed is the smallest seed grown in soil. But, almost miraculously, it grows into a very large plant. In this, Jesus shows that, no matter how small your faith is when you start your walk in the faith, you can grow it so much. This gives me so much hope. To know that, even if my faith is very small at times, I can grow it like a mustard seed and become strong in my faith when I grow it in the right conditions.
Later that day, Jesus took his disciples on the boat. While he was sleeping, a huge storm overtook it. His disciples became very scared (wouldn’t you?) and woke up Jesus asking him why he didn’t care that they were going to die. So, Jesus got up and said, “Hush. Be still” to the waters. And it immediately became calm. He then scolded his disciples asking them if they had no faith.This further scared the disciples. (But wouldn’t you also be scared if your friend could calm the sea?) They started to wonder who Jesus really was and what power he had if he could do all of these things.
Mark 4 is a great chapter for many reasons. Not only does Jesus show us that we need the right conditions to grow our faith and also that there is hope for even people with the smallest of faith, but the actions of his disciples also teach us something.
They are confused as to what his parables mean and also seem to continually lack faith. Our first thought may be to judge them. They literally had JESUS, the one who saved us from our sins, right in front of them! How could they not see it? But, if you think about it, how many times has God put things right in front of your face that you didn’t see until afterwards?
Furthermore, the disciples reveal Jesus’ compassion and patience. Jesus kept leading them even when they didn’t understand or were reluctant and scared to follow.
Jesus will do the same for you. Even though your faith may seem as small as a mustard seed, all you need is to trust in him and follow the word. Always remember that Jesus died for you. He loves you that much. Even when you have little faith.