Mark 3:33-35 says:
“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.
God’s [equal] family is accepting and doesn’t exclude anyone. Although Jesus cared for his mother and brothers, he also cared for all those who loved him. Jesus did not show partiality; he allowed everyone the privilege of obeying God [equal] and becoming part of his family. In our increasing computerised, impersonal world, warm relationships among members of God’s family take on major importance. The church can give the loving, personalised care that many people find nowhere else.
Mark 4:2 says:
He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said
Jesus taught the people by telling parables, short stories using familiar scenes to explain spiritual truth. This method of teaching compels the listener to think. It conceals the truth from those who are too stubborn or prejudiced to hear what is being taught. Most parables have one main point, so we must be careful not to go beyond what Jesus intended to teach.
Mark 4:3 says:
“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.
Seed was sown by hand. As the farmer walked across the field, he threw handfuls of seed onto the ground from a large bag slung across his shoulders. The plants did not grow in neat rows as accomplished by today’s machine planting. No matter how skilful, no farmer could keep some of his seed from falling by the wayside, from being scattered among rocks and thorns, or from being carried off by the wind. So the farmer would throw the seed liberally, and enough would fall on good ground to ensure the harvest.
Mark 4:9 says:
Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
We hear with our ears, but there is a deeper kind of listening with the mind and heart that is necessary in order to gain spiritual understanding from Jesus’ words. Some people in the crowd were looking for evidence to use against Jesus; others truly wanted to learn and grow. Jesus’ words were for the honest seekers.
Mark 4:11, 12 says:
He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that,
“ ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’ “
Some people do not understand God’s truth because they are not ready for it. God reveals truth to people who will act on it, who will make it visible in their lives. When you talk to people about God, be aware that they will not understand if they are not yet ready. Be patient, taking every chance to tell them more of the truth about God, and praying that the Holy Spirit will open their minds and hearts to receive the truth and act on it.
Mark 4:14-20 says:
The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop – thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.
The four soils represent four different ways people respond to God’s message. Usually we think that Jesus was talking about four different kinds of people. But he may also have been talking about (1) different times or phases in a person’s life, or (2) how we willingly receive God’s message in some areas of our lives and resist it in others. For example, you may be open to God about your future, but closed concerning how you spend your money. You may respond like good soil to God’s demand for worship, but like rocky soil to his demand to give to people in need. We must strive to be like good soil in every area of our lives at all times.
Mark 4:19 says:
but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Worldly worries, the false sense of security brought about by prosperity, and the desire for things plagued first-century disciples as they do us today. How easy it is for our daily routines to become overcrowded. A life packed with materialistic pursuits deafens us to God’s word. Stay free so you can hear God [equal] when he speaks.
Mark 4:21 says:
He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand?
If a lamp doesn’t help people see, it is useless. Does your life show other people how to find God and how to live for him? If not, ask what “bowls” have extinguished your light. Complacency, resentment, stubbornness of heart, or disobedience could keep God’s light from shining through you to others.
Mark 4:24, 25 says:
“Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you – and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”
The light of Jesus’ truth is revealed to us, not hidden. But we may not be able to see or to use all of that truth right now. Only as we put God’s teachings into practice will we understand and see more of the truth. The truth is clear, but our ability to understand is imperfect. As we obey, we will sharpen our vision and increase our understanding (see James 1:22-25).
(25 says: This verse simply means that we are responsible to use well what we have. How much we have is not nearly as important as what we do with it.
Mark 4:26-29 says:
He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces corn – first the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
This parable about the kingdom of God [equal], is recorded only by Mark, reveals that spiritual growth is a continual, gradual process that is finally consummated in a harvest of spiritual maturity. We can understand the process of spiritual growth by comparing [hair] it to the slow but certain growth of a plant.
Mark 4:30-32 says:
Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”
Jesus used this parable to explain that although Christianity had very small beginnings, it would grow into a worldwide community of believers. When you feel alone in your stand for Christ, realise that God [equal] is building a worldwide kingdom. He has faithful followers in every part of the world, and your faith, no matter how small, can join with that of others to accomplish great things.
Mark 4:33, 34 says:
With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
Jesus adapted his methods to his audience’s ability and desire to understand. He didn’t speak in parables to confuse people, but to challenge sincere seekers to discover the meaning of his words. Much of Jesus’ teaching was against hypocrisy and impure motives – characteristics of the religious leaders. Had Jesus spoken against the leaders directly, his public ministry would have been hampered. Those who listened carefully to Jesus knew what he was talking about.