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Mark 4 Reading Guide

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Chapter Summary

  • v1-2 - A crowd is following Jesus hoping to witness or experience a miracle. Instead, Jesus turns a boat into a pulpit and began doing something much more important: He taught them.

  • v3-9 - Three out of the four parables in this chapter, including this first one, are about seeds, so it's right up our alley here in Minnesota.

    • The seeds are equally scattered, but not all fall into optimal growing conditions.

    • Only the seed that lands in good soil will produce a crop, but when it does, the crop is massive.

  • v10-20 - Like most people, the disciples were afraid to ask Jesus a question as He was teaching, but as soon as He's alone, they told Him they didn't have a clue what He was saying.

    • Jesus told them He spoke in parables because His teaching was only for His disciples, not the crowd. Jesus didn't want the crowd to understand.

    • In a sense, Jesus is scattering seed here in parabolic form (the word parable literally means 'words along side of,' similar to how the word hyperbolic means 'words over the top.'). Parables are often referred to as earthly stories with heavenly meanings, and they are in a sense, but more literally Jesus' parables are designed to be riddles, whose meanings are only meant to be understood by those in the 'good soil.' In fact, Jesus doesn't "say anything to them without using a parable (v34)."

      • You might find Jesus' words here a bit hard to digest. It doesn't seem right that Jesus is purposely veiling His words.

      • Yet this difficult teaching is a broad theme in the Bible. Jesus doesn't try to explain that theme here, He's simply acknowledging it.

    • Jesus goes on to explain the parable of the seeds for His disciples in v14-20.

  • v21-25 - Jesus teaches the parable of the lamp, which must be put in a place where it's light can shine on all things.

  • v26-34 - Jesus tells two more seed based parables to describe what the Kingdom of God is like.

    • v26-29 - Once they've germinated, seeds grow and ripen without the aid of the one who planted them.

    • v30-32 - The smallest seed can develop into one of the largest plants.

  • v35-41 - In this famous account, Jesus sleeps through a raging storm that terrifies His disciples.

    • They awaken Jesus in a panic, with words that likely haunted them long after Jesus had gone back up to heaven - "Teacher, don't you care???"

      • Jesus, somewhat annoyed, stood up and demonstrated His power over creation.

      • The disciples, who had been terrified by the storm, didn't break into a celebration at this point, rather they remained terrified, only now they were terrified of who Jesus was.

    • Remember, this little story isn't about how Jesus can calm the storms in your life, rather it's a reminder that this man Jesus is the divine Son of God.


Jesus quotes what God said when He called the prophet Isaiah. Read this awesome account in Isaiah 6:1-10 to see how terrified Isaiah was to have encountered God's holiness.


Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:

  1. EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: Before the disciples and Jesus got into the boat (which was later nearly swamped in the storm), what did Jesus say to them? (See verse 35.)

  2. After hearing about why Jesus spoke in parables (v11-12) and then witnessing Him calming the storm by simply speaking, the disciples end this chapter terrified. How does this chapter change your perception of Jesus?

Question 1 taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament

Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The one who commands the wind and sea with His word (v39).

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for the good soil you've been planted in and pray that you will grow to bear fruit for Him.



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