Highlighting Mark: Kingdom of God Parables

HIGHLIGHTING MARK

CHAPTER 4: KINGDOM OF GOD PARABLES

VERSES 3-9:  “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.  4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.  8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.”

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

VERSES 11-12:  “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables  12 so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'”

Why does Jesus say, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear?’

What does Jesus communicate when He teaches in parables?  Why did Jesus use parables and not just teach ‘normally’ or lecture?

Why does Jesus use the word ‘secret’… as in ‘secret of the kingdom of God?’

Is Jesus trying to be vague when He teaches, or is there another agenda?

Jesus quotes Isaiah 6:9-10 in His response to the disciples, what does the context of the verses in Isaiah and the context of the verses here tell us about what Jesus meant?

What is the desired end result of understanding the parables of Jesus?

What does Mark 4:13 (look that verse up) bring out about our particular passage and other parables that will come?

VERSES 26-29:  “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground.  27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  28 All by itself the soil produces grain– first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.  29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

Taking a look at the four verses, what is discussed MOST in the parable?

Why in this parable, does the seed grow without any effort on the part of the scatterer?

What is sure to happen at the end… when all the ‘grain is ripe’?

Similar passage/similar language in the Old Testament:

Joel 3:11-14 says, “11 Come quickly, all you nations from every side, and assemble there. Bring down your warriors, O LORD!  12 ‘Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side.  13 Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow– so great is their wickedness!’  14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.”

In the passage in Joel, the focus is certainly on the wicked and their fate at ‘harvest time,’ but what is the focus of Jesus’ parable?

What can Jesus’ disciples (and us) be sure of when it comes to the Kingdom of God? 

VERSES 30-32: “Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?  31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground.  32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”

What contrast is Jesus making about the seed and plant?

The key in this passage is the identity of the birds.  Who/what are they?

[Daniel 4:10-12; Ezekiel 17:22-24, 31:3-14]

Ezekiel 17:22-24 “‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain.  23 On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches.  24 All the trees of the field will know that I the LORD bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. “‘I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.'”

Based on the birds… what is Jesus saying about the Kingdom of Heaven?

Answers given in passages:

The seed are people who are in the Kingdom of God.

By believing we are in good soil, which has its symbol beginnings in Psalm 1.

By abiding, even in difficulty, one becomes rooted in Christ.

In God’s time, comes growth.

We can know the actions, but God only altogether knows how growth occurs from the seed (from people who receive and have continued to abide).

The things we control in the process are – Believing and Abiding – the rest comes by God’s hand (His gardening wisdom).

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