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The Gospel According to Mark, Chapter 4

Analysis and Commentary


Jesus and the Apostles During a Strom

Jesus and the Apostles During a Strom

Jesus’ use of parables expands greatly in this chapter. In fact, Jesus even explains why he uses parables so much: parables are difficult to understand and by using parables, he can ensure that not too many people will understand what he is talking about. Why would he want to keep his intentions and teachings secret, though?

Jesus Sows Seeds by the Sea Shore (Mark 4:1-9)
Jesus’ popularity has continued to grow. By this point, the crowds that gather to hear him speak are so large that he has to get into a boat on the water to address them. Jesus would have been considered a very good public speaker for his time in order to keep drawing such large groups to hear him, regardless of the actual content of his presentations.

Jesus on Parables, Forgiveness, and Salvation (Mark 4:10-12)
It is no surprise that Jesus’ apostles didn’t understand what he was talking about when he delivered his parable about the seeds and the sower. It appears to be metaphorical, so the meaning isn’t immediately obvious or intuitive to everyone hearing it. Naturally, they ask him about it.

Jesus Explains the Parable of the Seeds (Mark 4:13-20)
Finally, Jesus explains to his inner circle of twelve apostles what the parable of the seeds means. This ‘true’ meaning is supposed to remain hidden from everyone else, but the reason for this is not explained. Readers should wonder about this because there is nothing obvious about why the true meaning should be limited to just a few - especially in light of the fact that, when all is said and done, this isn’t an earth-shattering message.

Jesus’ Parables: Candles and Seeds (Mark 4:21-34)
Having explained the parable of the sower of seeds to his apostles, Jesus launches into several more parables. The timeline of events here is confusing because we were just reading about Jesus talking alone to his apostles, but he is now teaching parables to them - or have we shifted back to an earlier time when he was speaking to the crowd? And why are the explanations of the parables set right alongside the parables themselves?

Jesus Calms the Storm (Mark 4:35-40)
During the trip across the Sea of Galilee, a large storm comes up - so large that the boat threatens to sink after so much water has entered it. How Jesus manages to stay asleep though this is unknown, but traditional commentaries on the passage say that he slept deliberately in order to test the faith of the apostles. If that is the case, then they failed, because they were so scared that they woke Jesus up to find out whether he cared if they all drowned.

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