Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mark 4

The Parable of the Sower

Jesus had a lot of people listening to him, and he started teaching in parables. He told the story of a man sowing seeds. He threw some seeds on the path, and birds came and ate the seeds. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, they grew immediately but there was not much soil so the roots were shallow so they got burned up in the sun. Other seeds landed near thorns and they got choked out. Finally, some seeds fell on good soil and produced a large yield of grain.

This seems very similar to what was in Matthew, consistency is good although I'm not sure why it has to be in here twice. Maybe the explanation will be a bit different.

The Purpose of the Parables

Later Jesus was alone with his disciples and they asked him about the parables, he said "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables." The purpose of this is so that "They may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven."

Wow, he pretty much explicitly says that he is intentionally making his teachings confusing for the masses so that they won't be saved. "Lest they should turn and be forgiven" to me sounds like he is saying "if we give them all of the information, they will repent and be forgiven and we don't want that". Is there any other interpretation of this? I'm certainly open to the possibility that I am reading this wrong, but this looks very bad to me. 

Also wanted to mention I looked back at Matthew 13 where this story shows up and it said something similar but it didn't seem like it was quite so explicit. This time around it seems pretty clear to me. 

Next Jesus explains that the sower is people spreading the word of God, the seeds on the path are people who hear the word but Satan comes immediately and takes the word from them. The rocky ground are people who accept the word with joy but after a little bit of tribulation fall away. The thorns are people surrounded by deceitfulness and riches of the world.

A Lamp Under a Basket

You don't put a lamp under a basket or under a bad, you put it on a stand. If anyone has ears let him hear. Pay attention to what you hear, if you pay more attention you will get more out of it.

I think my summaries follow from what is in the bible, but I found it a bit hard to understand.

The Parable of the Seed Growing

The kingdom of God is like a man scattering seed on the ground. It grows without the man understanding how. When the grain is ripe he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.

Not sure I understand this. What does it mean that he knows not how it grows? Is this saying the person preaching doesn't understand what is happening in the mind of the masses listening? Also, what does it mean to harvest the ripe grain? What does that mean in the analogy where the people listening to the word of God are like the grain?

This passage is fairly puzzling to me, any help?

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed on earth but grows to become larger than all the garden plants.

This isn't the biggest deal in my opinion, but it is worth noting that the mustard seed is not the smallest seed on earth. I have seen it argued that he didn't mean all seeds on earth but instead all seeds that these people would have seen, but that is not what is said. It explicitly says all seeds on earth. This mistake does not make much sense in a divinely inspired book. 

when speaking to the masses he spoke parables "as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything".

Here it is again. When he speaks to the masses he talks in parables, but when he talks to the disciples he explains everything. Why not explain everything to the masses too? It does say "as they were able to hear it" which could mean that he doesn't think they'd understand. I don't agree with this at all. In the parable of the sower from before, his explanation to his disciples made more sense than what he said to the masses. I can't image people following the parables and not following the explanation. That doesn't make sense to me. The explanations are less complicated than the parable.

Jesus Calms a Storm

They were travelling by boat and a big storm came up. The boat was taking on water and Jesus was sleeping in the back of the boat. The men woke him up and asked if he cared that they were all going to die. He stopped the storm with a word and then asked the men if they still had no faith in him. They were afraid because he had the power to stop the wind.

It is sad to me that Jesus' followers were afraid of him. If I was following someone around and he did something that scared me, it seems like a strange move to me to keep following him. Why would I follow someone who fills me with great fear?


  1. The lamp under the basket. When I was little, at my school we sang a song that went "this little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine." I think this is the parable it is referring too. I think what it's saying is be a light to the world, so to speak. Be a beaming example of the faith and don't hide it.

    Parable of the seed growing. My understanding has been that its like God spreading his word and like the seed parable, some takes root, and some doesn't. When the harvest time comes, as said earlier in the gospels, he will reap the good harvest, and burn the rest. I don't have the verse off hand, but I am sure you know what I am talking about. This was the image that first got me really wondering about whether God was a loving God and about his multiple personalities.

    The mustard seed. I would actually like to know the "real" translation.. My copy doesn't mention the whole earth, but it seems like another one of those things that's debatable. If he did mention the earth, I agree with you. But if he would have just said something like "the tiny mustard seed" without reference to the rest of the seeds on earth, I could let it pass. It's a bold statement when you use a superlative with such a big sample set.

    The Parables. I really don't like this either, the teaching in secret. In the gospel of Judas, Jesus took him aside and showed him heaven and all these secrets. He didn't do this with the others.

    The storm. Well, if you feel like you will burn for eternity or have to follow this guy, its not really much of a choice in my opinion.

    Last note I have here is about verse 25 "For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." I stole a note from the Skeptics annotated bible, which had something along the lines of "is this where the republicans get their party platform from?"

  2. I double checked the mustard seed, in my version it is "It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth". It is interesting that the language in your translation is different, I wonder what the original is.

    "is this where the republicans get their party platform from?"
    haha :)


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