Mark 4


Mark 4:12

so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN.”

(a) Return. In the new covenant, repentance is often described as a return or turning to God (see entry for Acts 26:20).

(b) Be forgiven. On the cross the Lamb of God bore the sins of the whole world (John 1:29, 2 John 2:2). All your sins have been forgiven. This is why, on the night he rose from the dead, Jesus told the disciples to preach the remission of sins or the good news of unconditional forgiveness (see entry for Luke 24:47). However, you will never experience his forgiveness unless you receive it by faith (Acts 10:43, 26:18). Only in Christ do we have the forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14).

God has forgiven us but those who don’t turn to him continue to carry their sins with them. Although God has provided the solution for their sins, they prefer to hold onto their sins rather than receive his forgiveness.


Mark 4:14

“The sower sows the word.

The word is not the Bible but the word of God or the word of Christ or the word of his grace. The gospel of grace, in other words. See entry for Acts 4:31.


Mark 4:16

“In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;

The rocky places describe the mindset of someone who is trusting in the tablets of stone or the law. Since they are relying on the law, the word of grace is unable to take root in their life.


Mark 4:17

and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.

(a) Have no firm root. Jesus is the Root of Jesse, the Root of David, and the Righteous Root that sustains us (Rom. 11:18, 15:12, Rev. 5:5). Those who look to the law to establish their own righteousness have no firm root because their trust is in themselves.

(b) When affliction or persecution arises because of the word. Some hear the gospel of grace and rejoice only to wilt under the frowns of those preaching of law and dead works.

(c) They fall away. The one who relies on his own moral or law-keeping performance is unable to stand because he is not rooted in the Righteous root.


Mark 4:20

“And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”

To hear the word and accept it is to believe the good news about Jesus.

In the New Testament, there are more than 200 imperative statements linked with faith. Some of these statements exhort us to: receive Jesus (John 1:11-12, 5:43), receive the message of Jesus (John 17:8), obey or heed the message or good news of Jesus (John 17:6) and turn to God in repentance (Acts 26:20).

Other scriptures encourage us to accept the word (Mark 4:20), confess Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9), call on the name of the Lord (Act 2:21), eat the bread of life (John 6:50-51), be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20), submit to God’s righteousness (Rom. 10:3), and be born again (John 3:3, 7).

But the one imperative that appears far more than any other, is the instruction to believe. We are to believe in Jesus (see entry for John 3:16).


Mark 4:40

And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

No faith. Faith is a positive response to God’s word. Jesus had said they were going to the other side (Mark 4:35), but the disciples did not believe him. They placed more confidence in their own assessment of the circumstances. See entry for Faith.


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