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7: Mystery of the Kingdom of God (Mk 4:1-34)
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7: Mystery of the Kingdom of God (Mk 4:1-34)

I.       The Basics

A.     Setting

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.

B.     Key Verse

            “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).

C.     Did You Know…?

1.      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.

2.      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.

3.      Stony ground (4:5): Not ground covered with small stones, but shallow soil on top of solid rock.

4.      Lamp (4:21): In Jesus’ day, people used small clay lamps that burned olive oil drawn up by a wick.

5.      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.

II.    Observation

A.     Outline










B.     Keywords/Phrases

III. General Analysis

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 the Bible?

3.   What is the kingdom of God like to you? How would you describe the kingdom of God?

IV.  Segment Analysis

A.     4:1-20

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 following represent?

2a. Sower

2b. Seed

2c. Wayside/path

2d. Bird

2e. Stony ground

2f. Sun

2g. Thorns

2h. Good ground

2i. Crop

3. List examples of “the cares of this world,” “the deceitfulness of riches,” and “the desires for other things” (19).

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).

B.     4:21-23

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?

C.     4:26-29

12. What is the main point of this parable?

13. What does the harvest represent?

D.     4:30-32

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?

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