"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Parables in Mark
Mark 4:1-34 Commentary
by Karl Jacobson
Mark 4:1-34 offers us four parables (the parables of the sower, the light and the bushel basket, the growing seed, and the Mustard seed), and two explanations of how Jesus intends the parables to work (or not work) upon the hearer.
Each of these parables is certainly worthy of attention, and one could preach on any of them individually. I want to suggest, again in keeping with Mark 1:15 as a lens for understanding Mark as a whole, that focusing on the purpose of Jesus’ teaching as fulfillment of God’s time, and instructing the able-hearer in the nearness of God’s kingdom and calling them (us) to repent and believe.
First, then, to the purpose of the parables. In Mark 4:10-12, 33-34, first Jesus and then the author of the Gospel talk about the purpose of the parables. Jesus explains his parable -- telling by quoting a part of Isaiah 6:9-10. Jesus says that he teaches in parables, “in order that ‘they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’” Jesus appropriates the prophet’s words in order to validate his own, and in order (theoretically) that his disciples might understand him in the ...
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2019-20 Worship resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL207: Parables in Mark
January 17, 2016
This podcast discusses Mark 4:1-34, the Narrative Lectionary reading for Jan. 17, 2016.