The Parables of Jesus

Posted 5/19/2001

Let's take a look at parables, as seen in Mr 4:1. Mark records four parables in this particular chapter:

  1. The Sower & Soils Mr 4:3-9
  2. The Candle Mr 4:21-23
  3. The Sleeping Sower Mr 4:26-29
  4. The Mustard Seed Mr 4:30-32

The particulary intriguing aspect to this chapter is the Jesus' explanation of why and how he uses parables: to prevent the wicked from understanding. You might call it, in this day and age, data encryption. He was communicating truth to His disciples and others who trusted in Him, excluding the hard-hearted unbelievers following him around trying to find fault.

He begins the chapter with the famous parable of the Sower and the Four Soils: packed roadway, shallow stony ground, weed-infested dirt, and good soil. This is one of the few parables for which we have a record of Jesus' explanation: unreceptive hearts, superficial hearts, worldly hearts, and godly hearts. He makes it clear that the point is all about fruit from the seed.

The remaining parables also take the theme of fruit growing from a small start. A little candle can be known to all, faithfulness in hearing and stewardship, grain growing through the night, and the mustard plant. The fullness of each example provides benefit for many others, all because a small seed died to give life to the fruit.

You might call these the fruit of the Word of God, as opposed to that of the Spirit!

A few wonderful nuggets of paradoxical Christianity are snuggled right in the middle of all these parables. Mr 4:23-25 They defy natural reason:

  1. By the same generosity you give, it will be given to you
  2. Those that hear will be given more
  3. He that has will be given more
  4. He that has not will have more taken away

These don't seem "fair," and perhaps they aren't! However, don't loose sight of the fact that we're talking about the kingdom of God, and the reality and importance of the spiritual world. Perhaps I can make an attempt to interpret these sayings in that light:

  1. The bank of heaven is backed by the infinite treasures of God. His policy is that the more people give from their accounts, the more abundantly He deposits into their accounts.
  2. There is an awesome responsibility with the Word of God. Those that hear it and understand, are bound to obey it. However, this rule makes that possible, because God gives grace and ability to accomplish the task.
  3. God desires faithfulness from His servants more than anything. He desires his children to love Him so much that they do all He asks. Those that do so are rewarded with more. Have what? More of what? God's treasure, of course! What else would He value?
  4. So rewarding faithfulness doesn't sound too strange, but taking from those who lack seems awfully harsh. How to explain this? Besides, how can one who has nothing have more taken away?

Finally, the chapter ends with a marvellous assurance of the power of God beyond all comprehension. Mr 4:35-41 Jesus has been in a boat this whole time teaching these parables, and He and the disciples depart in the evening toward the country of the Gadarenes. On the way there, they encounter a fearful storm, which he awakes and commands to be calm. Nature heeds its Creator, and immediately obeys.

What is so difficult to believe that Jesus can provide the wherewithal to fund "backwards" thinking, He who speaks and controls all nature with His word, can surely do the same for His children.

All verses in this article