Mark 4:1-20
Parables: Part 1


Open your Bibles to Mark 4:1-20


Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables,

  • Have you ever been at a lake or body of water and you could hear people talking across the lake or from out on a boat?
      • Sound carries different across water.
      • This is why Jesus got in a boat, pushed out a little, and taught the people on the sea.
  • Jesus was teaching Parables.
      • What are parables?
      • Parable in the Bible is a similitude, an allegory, a proverb, riddle, symbols and types.
          • Basically it mean to talk in a figurative way.
          • It can be a short simple story to convey meaning, morals, and truths.


and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 

  • Jesus teaches in a manner that many or most could understand and relate.
  • The parable is this:
      • We have a sower (farmer)
      • As the farmer planted his fields some of the seed fell along the path.
        • these are the areas not intended for yield or for the plants to grow.
        • We read that birds came and ate the seeds.
      • Some of the seed fell on rocky ground without a lot of soil and it grew extra fast.
        • When the sun came up, the plants were scorched or burned by the sun.
        • including the roots because the soil wasn’t deep enough.
        • The plants died.
      • Other seeds fell among thorns (basically invasive weeds)
        • These thorns or invasive weeds choked out the plants which if they survived didn’t do well.
        • These did not produce any grain as they should have.
      • Other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain.
        • These grew so well that they increased and yielded thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and some a hundredfold.
          • These yielded or allowed the farmer to harvest the grain.
          • Thirtyfold, sixtyfold, or a hundredfold.
            • What does that mean?
            • There is a saying…plant four seeds, one for the blackbird, one for the crow, one for the cutworm, and one to grow.
            • Let’s say you plant 100 seeds (easy numbers).
              • Thirtyfold would be 30 plants yielded from the 100 seeds you planted. (30%)
              • Sixtyfold would be 60 plants yielded from the 100 seeds you planted. (60%)


              • Hundredfold would be 100 plants yielded from the 100 seeds you planted. (100%)
              • We’ll come back to this later…


9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

  • Let those who are willing to hear the word of the Lord get the message.
    • Those who are humble rejecting the pride of self to learn something new.
    • Remember Jesus was teaching a new Way.
    • This was considered radical by many
    • It was rejected as heresy to some.


The Purpose of the Parables


10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 

  • Who is Jesus talking to?
  • It wasn’t just the apostles. It was those gathered around with the apostles.
    • In other words it was the people who lingered and wouldn’t go home.


11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that

“‘they may indeed see but not perceive,
    and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.’”

  • Given the secret of the kingdom of God.
      • Desire for divine knowledge
      • To be around and follow Jesus
      • Their open hearts willing to learn from the Lord and not from man
      • This allowed them to be given the secrets of the kingdom of God.
  • Those outside, without the desire to follow Jesus, everything is parables (hard to understand)
    • They see but do not perceive, or grasp the reality of what they are seeing.
        • Evident with the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes.
        • They witnessed miracles like the crippled man lowered through he roof and all they could think was Jesus said that man was forgiven.
        • They couldn’t grasp what they were witnessing, a miracle of God.
        • They were blind to God’s work.
    • They hear but not understand.
        • My dad would say, “I see your lips moving but I don’t understand what you’re saying.”
        • Same principle.
        • Men are really bad at this…women too, but men because we don’t fully listen.
            • It’s the reason more women are in church.
        • Some of this has to do with pride…sometimes people just think they know better.
        • Some has to do with attention span…1 minute for every year of age.
        • Some has to do with assumptions or we’re biased to someone or something we heard.
        • Some has to do with failing to ask questions!
    • “Lest” they should turn and be forgiven.
      • Those who are “outside” or “unsaved”, or without desire to follow Jesus need forgiveness.
      • “Lest” and “Should”. They are outside, unsaved…unless they turn to Jesus/forgiveness.


13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 

  • Jesus questions those gathered but because they are “listening” He will explain the parable.
  • Jesus offers a warning, PAY ATTENTION!…there are other parables.
    • There are a lot of parables in the Bible. 30-50 depending on the source you use.
    • All of the parables have deep rooted spiritual meaning that everyone needs to hear.
    • We need to pay attention, listen closely, watch, listen, and learn…
        • But mostly apply the parables in our lives and our Christian walks.


The Parable Explained


14 The sower sows the word. 

  • The sower is the the Lord, is Jesus who gives us the Word.
  • The sower can also be faithful preachers who preach biblical messages without watering down or sugar coating the Word.
  • The soil are the hearts of the hearers of the Word, or those who don’t hear the Word of the Lord.
    • It’s a heart issue.


15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 

  • These seeds just fell on top of the soil, no root, no depth.
  • Pay attention here…because I might just be talking to you.
  • These are the ones that have no desire other than to check a box that says “I’m Christian”.
  • They are not rooted in the word of God because they don’t read it, or talk to God.
  • They think just because they show up that they have blessed God…
      • I’m here to tell you God is not impressed just because you’ve walked through the door.
      • The Christian and unbeliever can both walk through a door.
      • Our church doors are open to everyone…but not all who walk through them are saved.
      • Satan waits for you, to grab you and keep your heart separated from God.
  • Don't believe me?
      • Every time a church splits up, Satan is at work and loving it.
      • Every time churches argue about stupid things…Satan loves it.
      • When Christians can’t get along, form clicks, gossip, Satan loves it.


16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 

  • These are abundant.
  • Some are ones that start coming to church, get super excited, volunteer for everything, and then fizzle out quick.
  • Some are church hurt people.
      • Stop going to church because people hurt you.
      • Did you stop going to McDonald’s when they got your order wrong. Any restaurant?
      • Did you stop going to the grocery store because you didn’t like their prices?
        • Well I have to eat!
        • “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”


        • Someone said something mean or did something mean to me.
          • Well boo-hoo. We do a lot of things at places we’ve been hurt before.
        • Why are you punishing God for the mistakes, sins, and carelessness of man?!!!
        • What if God did that to you?


18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 

  • These are the ones that want to be faithful but are distracted by all the worldliness, glitter and gold, and shiny things.
  • The rich young man is a prime example.
      • Mark 10:17-27 “a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
  • When we are more concerned with things, our own desires, our own passions, our own selfishness, then we are choked out by the world and lose sight of God.


20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

  • There is hope…Jesus!
  • Those who believe in Jesus, trust in Jesus, follow Jesus, have this hope, this confidence.
  • Our vision is “I have decided…”
    • Have you?
    • Have you decided to follow Jesus?
    • Or, Have you decided to follow the world?


Remember I said that we’d come back to the thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and hundredfold?

    • There are people, maybe some in this church who will hear the message I’m preaching, and some who won’t.
    • Some who will hear the message and understand it, and some who won’t.
    • Some who will agree with it, and some who will reject it.
    • Some who will listen to it, get excited about it, and then forget it by the time they walk out the doors of this church.
    • Some who hear, understand, take with them, and apply this message to their Christian lives.


    • Remember I said:
      • Let’s say you plant 100 seeds (easy numbers).
        • Thirtyfold would be 30 plants yielded from the 100 seeds you planted. (30%)
        • Sixtyfold would be 60 plants yielded from the 100 seeds you planted. (60%)
        • Hundredfold would be 100 plants yielded from the 100 seeds you planted. (100%)
      • Or, some with hear and take away:
        • 30% of God’s intended message of what I’ve preached today.
        • Some 60% of God’s intended message of what I’ve preached today.
        • Some 100% of God’s intended message of what I’ve preached today.
        • Any of these figures are considered good!
          • We are all different and in different places in our Christian walks.
    • The point of this is are you taking anything away from God’s word?
      • Or are you fruitless, lost, and unsaved?
    • There is Hope! Jesus is our Hope!
      • If you feel like you’re missing the mark, you probably are.
      • Maybe you need to stick around with other Christians and ask questions.
      • Maybe as Christians we need to make ourselves available and welcoming so that others will want to stick around and make to feel like they can ask questions.