Mark 4:21-41 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Jesus Teaches About the Kingdom of God
Comments for Study 7

Mark 4:21-41
Memory Verse: 30


I. The Lamp on a Stand (21-25)

>1. What is the purpose of a lamp and why is it put on a stand? (21)

* Mark 4:21 "He said to them, "Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don't you put it on its stand?"

* "He said to them" -According to verse 33 these parables were taught to the multitudes after the parable of the sower. In the middle of Jesus' teaching Mark inserts some of Jesus' conversation with his disciples so we would understand the meaning of that parable. The meaning of the other parables were also given to his disciples according to verse 10 "when he was alone" with them.

* These next three parables are about the good soil of the previous parable.

* The purpose of a lamp is to:
    1) light up everything so that we can see clearly
    2) to enable us to see in the night and in darkness

* It is put in the open so that:
    1) it can be seen clearly
    2) so it's light can expose as much as possible

* If a lamp is put under a bed or a bowl it's effectiveness is limited.

* A lamp under a bowl will eventually go out or will destroy the bowl because of the heat.

* A lamp under a bed will eventually burn up the bed.

* "lamp" -the word of God is like a lamp. In Jesus' day oil lamps were common.

* "bowl" -sin, unbelief, fear, doubt, and an uncommitted life. Basically anything that can hinder the lamp from giving light.

>How is God's word of truth like a lamp? (22, 23)

* Mark 4:22-23 "For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."

* "For" -this is linked to Jesus' parable of a lamp.

* Psalm 119:105 says the word of God is a lamp.

* "whatever" -motives and actions whether good or bad.

* "is concealed" -deliberate or not, any sinful action.

* "is meant to be" -To expose is God's will.

* "disclosed...brought out into the open" -revealed for everyone to see.

* The word of God reveals the truth of self and environment, lights our path to the way to go, and brings all things into the open and clear.

* Jesus revealed alot of the mysteries of God through parables'. However this is not what this parable is teaching. It concerns the word of God exposing our inner heart and mind motives not to condemn a believer. Rather it reminds a believer that our actions will be revealed on judgement day. Jesus is leading us to become lights of God's truth to the dark world.

* A lamp only shows what is immediately ahead of us, not the whole path. It is a gradual, but sure exposure.

* The word of God shows not only our sins and weaknesses and infirmities, but also our good deeds. (John 3:19-21, Luke 2:35)

* All sins and all good deeds will be exposed at one time or another; whether in this life or at judgement.

* We are the light of the world when we teach the word of God with our lips and actions. (Matt. 5:14-16)

* Light always overcomes darkness, always reveals reality.

Jesus Mentions His Second Coming in Synoptic Gospels

>2. Why should we "consider carefully" what we hear? (24, 25)

* Mark 4:24-25 "Consider carefully what you hear," he continued. "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you--and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."

* "Consider carefully" -study seriously, think about it's meaning. Our heart soil has had different responses, but only the last was right. Value the word of God.

* "Consider carefully" -the word as it is taught in the passage. In the context that the author was giving it, not what we think and not by adding many verses to it or taking them away from it. If we consider carefully from the author's point of view, we are acknowledging the living God behind them.

* "what you hear" -that is Jesus' teachings.

* "With the measure you use" -when we measure ourselves up against others or the society standard we are wrong. We should measure ourselves up to the word of God and Jesus and his life. This not only means judge ourself against the standard of the word of God, but also apply that standard to our lives.

* "it will be measured to you" -given to you, revealed to you, promises will be applied.

* "and even more" -God's promises will come to us, even more that what we used to apply to us.

* "more" -materials, knowledge, wisdom, spiritual strength, joy, love, those we reveal Jesus and the Bible too. (Psalm 1:1-3)

* "whoever has" -has because the word of God has been applied in the heart.

* "taken" -become lazy, forget, loose image of God.

* "will be taken from him." -The word of God, if rejected will disappear in the heart. Eventually on judgement day all believers will stand before the Bema seat (the set of reconning of our life) and either we will be rewarded, or we will lose our reward. Jesus often talked of rewards and Paul wrote extensively on it too.

II. The Parables of the Seeds (26-34)

>3. What is the common theme of the parable of the growing seed and the parable of the mustard seed?

* The word of God grows and multiplies.

* The seed is the word of God.

* Seed is always scattered/planted.

* At the planting the word doesn't seem like much.

>4. How is the kingdom of God like a growing seed? (26-29)

* Mark 4:26-29 "He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain--first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come."

* The kingdom of God here refers to the word of God growing in a persons heart.

* "is like" -Jesus is making a comparison. It is not exact, but it is similar.

* "seed" -word of God

* "A man scatters seed on the ground" -directly this is talking about God the farmer, indirectly it is talking about the servant of God who teaches the word of God.

* "Night and day" -All the time, continual process.

* The kingdom of God sprouts and grows just like a plant.

* "though he does not know how" -God's work in the heart is not known by any man.

* "All by itself" -As Jesus taught in the earlier parable good soil that has seed planted in it has the natural tenancy to produce plants.

* "All by itself" -it is up to God to make the word grow into the kingdom of God in a persons heart. A shepherd should really on God through prayer, not on himself. The plant will grow even if the farmer dies.

* In a person it matters what the farmer does during the growth so it will grow. A person of God should not hinder the growth or the plant, nor trample it underground. He should water and fertilize it.

* "first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head" -the work of God in the heart is a developing process.

* "he puts a sickle to it" -God harvests us in time, his time, when we are right. Believers in Jesus must remember that we have a glorious future in Jesus, in heaven, in the Millennium, and for all eternity. Our time in this world is short compared to eternity. There is a harvest. We will rise from the death and live in new resurrected bodies like Jesus now has.

* The growth of a plant is not visible to the human eye on a day to day basis. The growth is slow and gradual.

>What does the man in this parable teach us about faith?

* He spreads it knowing it will grow with God's help.

* He waits patiently.

* He reaps a harvest.

* God can use anyone to scatter the seed, if they have accepted it themselves, for he is the one who does all the work.

* Believe in the growing power of the seed.

>5. What is the special characteristic of a mustard seed? (30-31)

* Mark 4:30-31 "Again he said, "What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground."

* It is very small compared to other garden plants.

* The word of God seems insignificant at first.

>How does it grow? (32)

* Mark 4:32 "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."

* "all garden plants" -The mustard plant true greatness can be seen in time.

* "birds of the air can perch in its shade" -The birds are not from the tree or the seed that is plated and that the tree produces, but get benefits from the plant that comes from the seed. Birds are noisy and often eat fruit that grow in the plant.

>How does it illustrate the kingdom of God planted in one's heart?

* The word of God when planted in good soil grows.

* Jesus came and planted the word of God. His kingdom (church) has been growing ever since and had become a blessing to all those in the world, not just those who believe in his name.

* Jesus word also is planted him individuals hearts that grows and becomes a blessing to other around them.

III. Jesus Calms the Wind and the Sea (35-41)

>6. Where were Jesus and his disciples going (35-36)?

* Mark 4: 35-36 "That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, 'Let us go over to the other side.' Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him."

* The following event is one example how, the word of God, the kingndom of God was planted in the disciples hearts and grew.

* "Jesus said" -Jesus initiated this event.

* "leaving the crowd behind" -The soon to come teaching event was for the disciples only.

* "just as he was" -Jesus left in the boat he had gotten into at the beginning of the teaching earlier this day.

* Most likely the disciples, who had been fishermen liked the idea of getting back in a boat and out on the water.

>What happened on the sea? (37)

* Mark 4:37 "A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped."

* "a furious squall came up" -This is a common tendancy of the Sea of Galilee.

>7. What was Jesus doing? (38a)

* Mark 4:38a "Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion."

* "stern" -back of the fishing boat.

* "sleeping on a cushion" -Jesus was human, tired and in need of rest after a day of teaching.

* "so that it as nearly swamped" -They disciples must have been bailing out the boat and still it was being swamped.

>What did the words of the disciples show about their faith? (38b)

* Mark 3:38b "The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"

* "drown" -Most of the disciple were experienced fishermen and new the Sea of Galilee well. They had been in squalls before. This was no illusion. It was real. This squall scarred experienced fishermen.

* "Teacher" -sign of respect.

* "don't you care" -The disciples did not understand Jesus' love, concern, and sence of reality.

* "woke him" -Perhaps they didn't like the fact that he was sleeping.

>8. What did Jesus do? (39)

* Mark 4:39 "He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm."

* "He got up" -Jesus first action was to stop the wind and waves. He did not rebuke the disciples for waking him. He solved the outward cause of their fear.

* "completely calm" -The change was dramatic and immediate. Fisherman would not have been fooled by only a change in appearance of calm. the water was as smooth as glass.

>What does that show about Jesus?

* Jesus authority is clear.

* Jesus' response was is love; a calm, dignified, and confident spirit.

>9. What did Jesus rebuke his disciples about? (40)

* Mark 4:40 "He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?""

* "fear... no faith" -Fear and a lack of faith are related. With faith we have confidence that God loves us and cares for us. Fear has to do with condemnation and punishment. In love God made a way for us to not experience the condemnation and punishment we desire through his Son, Jesus the Messiah. If God loves us so much when we were his enemies; how much more does he love us when he has made us his son's through Jesus?

* "no faith" -Faith was their real problem; not the squall, the waves and the wind. They were called by Jesus to be his special apostles. This did not make them mature. They needed to learn from experiences of deliverance like this.

* Proverbs says the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.


* This event worked to bring home Jesus teachings. The parables were good and the event was an even better teaching.

* Jesus' rebuke humiliated them.

>What did the disciples learn through this incident? (41)

* Mark 4:41 "They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"

* "terrified" -Jesus power and authority was terrifying even to disciple who had known him, seen his healing, and heard his teachings.

* "Who is this?" -Jesus is the Son of God, being in very nature God.

* The fruit of Jesus' two questions was their one question.

* The disciples learned to ask, "Who is this?" Everyone needs to answer this question; its a matter of eternal life.