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Mark 4 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Parable of the Farmer Scattering Seed

Once again Jesus went to teach the people on the shore of Lake Galilee[a] and a massive crowd surrounded him. The crowd was so huge that he had to get into a boat and teach the people from there. He taught them many things by using parables[b] to illustrate spiritual truths, saying:

“Consider this: A farmer went out to sow seeds. As he cast his seeds some of it fell along the beaten path and soon the birds came and ate it. Other seeds fell onto gravel with no topsoil and the seeds quickly sprouted since the soil had no depth. But when the days grew hot, the sprouts were scorched and withered because they had insufficient roots. Other seeds fell among the thorns, so when the seeds sprouted so did the thorns, crowding out the young plants so that they could produce no grain. But some of the seeds fell onto good, rich soil that kept producing a good harvest. Some yielded thirty, some sixty—and some even one hundred times as much as was planted! If you understand this, then you need to respond.”[c]

The Purpose of Parables

10 Afterwards, Jesus, his disciples and those close to him remained behind to ask Jesus about his parables. 11 He said to them, “The privilege of intimately knowing the mystery of God’s kingdom realm has been granted to you, but not to the others,[d] where everything is revealed in parables.

12 “For even when they see what I do, they will not understand, and when they, hear what I say, they will learn nothing, otherwise they would repent and be forgiven.”[e]

13 Then he said to them, “If you don’t understand this parable, how will you understand any parable? 14 Let me explain: The farmer sows the Word as seed, 15 and what falls on the beaten path represents those who hear the Word, but immediately Satan appears and snatches it from their hearts. 16 The seed sown on gravel represents those who hear the Word and receive it joyfully, 17 but because their hearts fail to sink a deep root into the Word, they don’t endure for long. For when trouble or persecution comes on account of the Word, they immediately wilt and fall away. 18 And the seed sown among thorns represents those who hear the Word, 19 but they allow the cares of this life and the seduction of wealth and the desires for other things to crowd out and choke the Word so that it produces nothing.

20 “But the seed sown on good soil represents those who open their hearts to receive the Word and their lives bear good fruit—some yield a harvest of thirty, sixty, even one hundred times more than was sown!”

Parable of the Lamp

21 He also gave them this parable: “No one lights a lamp[f] only to place it under a basket or under the bed. It is meant to be placed on a lampstand. 22 For there is nothing that is hidden that won’t be disclosed, and there is no secret that won’t be brought out into the light! 23 If you understand what I’m saying, you need to respond!”[g]

24 Then he said to them, “Be diligent to understand the meaning behind everything you hear, for as you do, more understanding will be given to you. And according to the depth of your longing to understand,[h] much more will be added to you. 25 For those who listen with open hearts will receive more revelation. But those who don’t listen with open hearts will lose what little they think they have!”[i]

Parable of the Growing Seed

26 Jesus also told them this parable: “God’s kingdom realm is like someone spreading seed on the ground. 27 He goes to bed and gets up, day after day, and the seed sprouts and grows tall, though he knows not how. 28 All by itself it sprouts, and the soil produces a crop; first the green stem, then the head on the stalk, and then the fully developed grain in the head. 29 Then, when the grain is ripe, he immediately puts the sickle to the grain, because harvest time has come.”[j]

Parable of the Tiny Mustard Seed

30 And he told them this parable: “How can I describe God’s kingdom realm? Let me illustrate it with this parable. 31 It is like the mustard seed, the tiniest of all the seeds, 32 yet when it springs up and grows, it becomes the largest plant in the garden. And with so many enormous spreading branches, even birds can nest in its shade.”[k]

Jesus Always Taught Using Parables

33 Jesus used many parables such as these as he taught the people, and they learned according to their ability to understand. 34 He never spoke to them without using parables, but would wait until they were alone before he explained their meanings to his disciples.[l]

Jesus Stills a Storm

35 Later that day, after it grew dark, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” 36 After they had sent the crowd away, they shoved off from shore with him, as he had been teaching from the boat,[m] and there were other boats that sailed with them. 37 Suddenly, as they were crossing the lake, a ferocious tempest arose, with violent winds and waves that were crashing into the boat until it was all but swamped.[n] 38 But Jesus was calmly sleeping in the stern, resting on a cushion. 39 So they shook him awake, saying, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are all about to die!” Fully awake, he rebuked the storm and shouted to the sea, “Hush! Calm down!” All at once the wind stopped howling and the water became perfectly calm.

40 Then he turned to his disciples and said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Haven’t you learned to trust yet?” 41 But they were overwhelmed with fear and awe and said to one another, “Who is this man who has such authority that even the wind and waves obey him?”


  1. Mark 4:1 Commonly known as the Sea of Galilee. It is interesting that Jesus left the house (Mark 3:20) to go to the sea. The “house” suggests the “house of Israel,” and the “sea” speaks of the non-Jewish peoples (i.e., the “sea of humanity”).
  2. Mark 4:2 The Aramaic and Greek use a word for “parable” that means “a metaphor,” “allegory,” “simile,” “illustration,” “comparison,” “figure of speech,” “riddle,” or “enigmatic saying that is meant to stimulate intense thought.” Throughout Hebrew history, wise men, prophets, and teachers used parables and allegories as a preferred method of teaching spiritual truths. Poets would write their riddles and musicians would sing their proverbs with verbal imagery. Jesus always taught the people by using allegory and parables (Matt. 13:34; Mark 4:34). As a true prophet, one of Jesus’ preferred methods of teaching was allegory. To deny the validity of allegorical teaching is to ignore the teaching methods of Jesus, the living Word.
  3. Mark 4:9 Or “The one with ears to hear should use them.” We usually apply portions of this parable to unbelievers, but Jesus instructs us to apply it to ourselves. The four kinds of soils speak of four kinds of hearts: hard hearts, hollow hearts, half hearts, and whole hearts. With the first soil we see the activity of Satan, the second, that of the flesh, and the third, that of the world. Bearing fruit is never a problem with the seed but with the soil it falls upon.
  4. Mark 4:11 Or “to the outsiders.” The Aramaic is “backward ones.” Jesus spoke allegorically so that those who didn’t care to understand couldn’t understand. Yet he knew that the hungry ones would seek out the hidden meaning of the parables and understand the secrets of God’s kingdom realm. It is still that way today. See Prov. 25:2.
  5. Mark 4:12 See Isa. 6:9-10.
  6. Mark 4:21 The Jewish people considered the Torah, God’s Word, to be a lamp that gives light to see and understand. Israel was meant to be a light that gives illumination to the nations. Jesus also calls his followers those who “light up the world.” See Matt. 5:14.
  7. Mark 4:23 Or “The one with ears to hear should use them.” The Aramaic is “If one brings a hearing ear for himself, he will hear.”
  8. Mark 4:24 Or “By the measure with which you measure, it will be measured to you.” Some interpret this to refer to our relationships; i.e., “The way you treat others will be the way you will be treated.” However the context is clearly about having an open heart to receive and live in truth, and not to hide it or have a closed heart to understand.
  9. Mark 4:25 This verse contains a complicated ellipsis, which is a literary function of omitting certain information to invite discovery. The ellipsis of the text has been supplied by making explicit what is implicit in the context. The verse reads literally “More will be given to the person who has (something), but a person who doesn’t have (something), even what (something) they do have will be taken from him.” The translation fills the ellipsis with the theme of the context—having an open heart to receive the truth of God. The parables of the sower and of the lamp are similar in that they speak of the heart that receives truth. The Word is a “seed” that grows within us and a “lamp” that glows within us.
  10. Mark 4:29 This parable is only found in Mark’s Gospel. It teaches us that the reality of God’s kingdom realm is like seed sown into the world that will grow through stages of maturity until the harvest.
  11. Mark 4:32 Like the preceding parable, this is an allegorical way of describing the growth of God’s kingdom realm. It may appear in the beginning as small and insignificant, yet it will grow until it becomes the greatest kingdom of all. Both of these parables teach us that God’s kingdom is growing on the earth and not diminishing. See Ezek. 17:22-24.
  12. Mark 4:34 Jesus still delights to mystify those who follow him, but he waits until we are alone with him, and then he reveals the wonders of his grace and truth to our hearts.
  13. Mark 4:36 The somewhat awkward construction of the Greek sentence, “They took him along just as he was, in the boat,” implies that Jesus was already in the boat where he had been sitting and teaching.
  14. Mark 4:37 This gale of wind and ferocious tempest was demonic in nature, as Jesus was about to confront a powerful principality on the other side of the lake. (See Mark 5:1-20.) Jesus would not have rebuked the storm if it was from God. The devil knew that if Jesus crossed to the other side, he would cast out the demon horde that had long terrorized the entire region.
The Passion Translation (TPT)

The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.
Used by permission. All rights reserved. thePassionTranslation.com


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