The Way - Day 095 (Mark 4)

Daily Reading:
Mark 4
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
What sort of comfort do you take when Jesus said "I didn't come to call the righteous, but sinners"?  How does this fit in with the rest of the characters in the Bible?  What do you think the righteous think they don't need?  Take a quiet moment to reflect on what you think you need.  Who do you align with more?  The righteous or the sinners and why?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 32:1
OPTION 2: Proverbs 14:26-27
OPTION 3: Matthew 5:38-39
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for Mark 4 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
Mark 4:1-20
Mark records four parables in chapter 4. In this reading we will only cover one of those which have often been referred to as the "parable of the soils." A parable was a Jewish form of teaching where the truth was illustrated in a real-life scenario. Jesus further explains why He teaches in parables: "To you [his disciples] it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside [those who reject Christ], all things come in parables..." (4:11). The spiritual meaning of parables is hidden from those who fail to repent of sin and evidence no faith in God; however, those who repent and believe will understand the significance of Jesus' teachings. This particular parable is being taught by Jesus while he is sitting on a boat and his listeners are on the shore (4:1). His teaching is found in Mark 4:3-9 and the explanation is detailed in Mark 4:10-20. Jesus tells the story of a sower who went out to sow seed. The seed fell on three types of ground: stony ground, thorny ground, and good ground. In brief, the sower is God, the seed is the gospel, and the ground represents the heart of the hearer of the gospel. The seed which fell on stony ground illustrates one who hears the gospel, but it never grows because "Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts" (4:15). Many hear the gospel, but choose not to believe in it because they have been deceived by Satan.

The seed which falls on thorny ground represents those who hear the gospel but "the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful" (4:19). Jesus further says that these people externally accept the gospel but "they have no root in themselves, and so endure for a time. Afterward, when tribulation and persecution arises for the word's sake, immediately they stumble" (4:17). This person is consumed with the things of the world and really has no interest in following Christ. Over time this person proves that their heart was never captured by the gospel and therefore they have never been genuinely converted.

The last type of soil which the seed falls on is the good ground. This person embraces the truth about Jesus Christ and continually demonstrates his love for God through his actions. Jesus says that the seed "sown on good ground [are] those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred" (4:20). Out of all three types of soil, this one alone represents a genuine believer of the gospel. God changes their heart and they begin to do good for Him. Everyone does a different work for Him, but the issue is not necessarily the amount of the deeds but the commitment to Jesus Christ.

So, which type of soil describes your heart?

Mark 4:21-34
There are three remaining parables in Mark 4: parable of the lamp (4:21-25), parable of the growing seed (4:26-29), and the parable of the mustard seed (4:30-32). Each of them is a brief teaching where Jesus used earthly objects to teach a spiritual lesson to His followers. In the parable of the lamp, Jesus begins by asking two questions, "Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand?" The lamp seems to represent the teachings of Jesus. Since Jesus' teachings are truth, they were not meant to be hidden but to be visible to all who would hear and receive (4:23). As a person receives and obeys the truth, they will be entrusted with more (4:25). Obedience to Jesus' teachings will result in more spiritual fruit.

The parable of the growing seed is only mentioned by Mark. It is very similar to the parable of the soil which is recorded earlier in Mark 4:1-20; however, this parable focuses on the result of the seed which falls on good ground. The seed is the gospel and the ground represents the heart. When people receive the gospel through repentance and faith, it will grow into spiritual fruit. Jesus' teaching here also seems to imply that the gospel sometimes takes time to work in the heart of a man. Mark writes, "For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come" (4:29).

The final parable in Mark 4 is Jesus' description of the kingdom of God. "It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade" (4:21-32). As people accept the truth, it begins to grow from a small influence to a very large influence upon others, which provides protection and blessings upon many.

Each of these parables holds a simple truth which needs to be taken to heart and applied in our daily lives. The parable of the lamp challenges us to consistently apply the truth of Jesus. The parable of the growing seed reveals the results of a heart which is sensitive to truth. Lastly, the parable of the mustard seed teaches us that even a small influence of good can grow to affect many.

Dear God, help me to apply the truth I have learned today.