7: Mystery of the Kingdom of God (Mk 4:1-34)
The narrative takes a rare break
from its fast-paced action. Here we reflect on four parables about our faith
and the kingdom
of God. The meaning of
these parables was hidden from the people in general, and revealed only when
Jesus was alone with His own disciples.
“To you it has been given to know the mystery of
the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things
come in parables” (4:11).
Did You Know…?
Parable (4:2): Derived from the Greek word parabole,
which means, “placing next to something”—a comparison. In the New Testament, it
referred to the stories Jesus drew from nature and human life.
Sower (4:3): A farmer scattered his seeds over
the entire ground, which caused some seeds to land on the wayside, on stony
ground, or among the thorns.
Stony ground (4:5): Not ground covered with
small stones, but shallow soil on top of solid rock.
Lamp (4:21): In Jesus’ day, people used small
clay lamps that burned olive oil drawn up by a wick.
Mustard seed (4:31): The smallest of the garden
seeds known to farmers at that time. Though its seed is so small, a mustard
plant grows to a great height 12-15 feet (5-6 m) in one season, and is a
nesting place for the birds of the air.
1a. In this passage, what common things did Jesus mention in His
teaching? Elsewhere in the Bible, what other common things did He mention?
2a. Why did Jesus speak in parables? Why did He explain everything only
to His disciples (34)?
2b. If Jesus explained everything to His disciples, why are we given the
explanation to only one parable?
2c. How can we discern between correct and incorrect interpretations of
is the kingdom of
God like to you? How
would you describe the kingdom
1. How much is the seed able to
grow and produce in each of the following places?
1a. Wayside/along the path
1b. On stony ground
1c. Among thorns
1d. On good ground
2. What does each of the
2e. Stony ground
2h. Good ground
3. List examples of “the cares of
this world,” “the deceitfulness of riches,” and “the desires for other things”
4. What are needed for a seed to
produce a crop? (cf. Jn 12:24)
5. How much has the word of God
taken root in you? What crops have you produced?
6. Explain 11-12. Does it mean
God does not want everyone to be saved? (cf. Isa 6:9-10).
7. Who is “he who has ears to
hear” (9,23)? (cf. Rev 2-3).
8. What does the lamp on a stand
represent? (cf. Rev 1:20; 2:5; Jn 1:4-5, 9; 1Jn 1:5-7).
9. Explain verses 22. What does
it have to do with the parable of the lamp? (cf. Lk 11:33-36; 12:2-3; Eph
5:3-14; Php 2:15; Rev 2-3)
10. What is the parable of the
measure teaching us?
11.How do the parables of the
lamp and the measure help explain why Jesus used parables?
12. What is the main point of
13. What does the harvest
14. How is the kingdom of God
like the growth of a mustard seed?
15. What is the meaning of birds
perching in the shade of the mustard plant?