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Mark - Lesson 5

  • Thomas Klock Harvest Ministries
  • Updated Oct 05, 2007
Mark - Lesson 5

Lesson 5

Preparing Our Heart’s Soil

Mark 4:1–25


Son of Man, Son of God

Studies in Mark’s Gospel



We read in Mark 3 of conflict, mountaintop experiences, and the redefining Jesus did during this time of His ministry.  Jesus began experiencing increasing conflict with the religious leaders as He addressed their hypocrisy.  Jesus was moved by their sin to anger, but also compassion and grief, as He is now by ours as well.  A shift took place at this time in the Galilean ministry, and although Jesus would continue to minister to the needs of the multitudes, He began to select out of His followers twelve men who couldn’t have been a more unusual bunch, yet turned their world upside down (or should we say right side up!), making an impact that history cannot and had best not ignore, no matter what skeptics and heretics want us to believe about church history and the Bible.  We discussed these men and their impact fairly extensively.  We left off studying a two-pronged attack on Jesus by the enemy on two fronts:  by the religious leaders, accusing Him of being empowered by Satan, and saddest of all by His own family members thinking He had lost His mind, and they came to “take custody of Him.”  Jesus closed off that section with what was our memory verse, that those who do the will of God out of an obedient heart are His mother and brothers, made part of the family of God.  Mark 4 records teachings Jesus gave later that same day[i] that are as alive to us today as they were in the time in which He lived. Let’s turn to that now and find out what it says for us today.


DAY ONE: Parables and Mysteries

Please carefully read Mark 4:1, 2 and answer the following questions.


1. Describe the scene in verse 1.  What did Jesus do in view of this?

2.  The Greek construction of a great multitude tells us that this was a bigger crowd than ever.[ii]  Jesus began once again to teach them, implying in Greek that this was a continued process of teaching, possibly often repeated.  What method did Jesus use to instruct to the crowds (v. 2)?


3.  The word parable means a comparison, a short story used to illustrate a truth by comparing it to something common to them to make it more understandable; an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.  Parable comes from the Greek para, alongside or next to, and bole, to throw; so it means one thing thrown next to another for comparison.  Matthew and Luke record many parables that Jesus told, but Mark records few, for he was writing for the Roman mindset.  Mark wanted to record what Jesus did more than what He said.  In fact, Mark even skips the Sermon on the Mount.  It is as though he was trying to show his readers that if they understood what Jesus did, they could truly see who He was.  So it seems logical that if Mark included certain parables in his Gospel, they must be vital, and we should pay attention to them closely. Warren Wiersbe well described the importance of parables:

A true parable gets the listener deeply involved and compels that listener to make a personal decision about God’s truth and his or her life...A parable begins innocently as a picture that arrests our attention and arouses our interest. But as we study the picture, it becomes a mirror in which we suddenly see ourselves. If we continue to look by faith, the mirror becomes a window through which we see God and His truth. How we respond to that truth will determine what further truth God will teach us.[iii]

What were some of the reactions Jesus got from those who heard His parables and teachings in the following passages?

Matthew 13:36, 57
Luke 13:17
Luke 18:31–34
Matthew 21:45, 46; Luke 11:53, 54

Scripture Memory:  This week we will be memorizing Mark 4:24, 25.  Review the passage several times throughout the day each day this week, and by the end of the week, you should have it memorized completely.


Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.  For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”  Mark 4:24, 25 (nkjv)


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DAY TWO:  Parable of the Soils

Please carefully read Mark 4:3-9 and answer the following questions.


1.  Jesus told them a parable about a sower, some seed, and the soil.  How did Jesus begin and end His parable to assure the audience’s attention (v. 3, 9)?


2. Listen means to hear with attention and listen carefully.  Just because most of us have the physical ability to hear doesn’t mean we truly hear and comprehend it.  We’ll see what Jesus was doing by this later in this study.  He also used the phrase of verse 9 in His dictated letters to the seven churches in Revelation.  What are some of the things He promised for those who truly listen and apply what He tells them (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 25-29)?


3.  We are going to do something a little different with this parable:  make a chart for future reference of what it is saying to us.  Before you re-read verses 3-9 and fill in the chart provided for you below, here is some important background information on the contents of the parable:[iv]


Palestinian villagers would often beat pathways through fields since there weren’t sufficient roads for getting around

They would often sow their seeds before plowing the fields, tossing the seeds by hand from a sack or pouch as they walked the length of the field

Seeds from last year’s thorns might lie hidden in the soil, and often there were rocks hidden just below the soil

Seeds sown in thin soil sprout first because the heat absorbed by the rocks under them speeds up the sprouting, and they can’t grow any way else but up

The phrase some seed in Greek means some of the same kind (allo), not of a different kind (hetero); choked it means to choke utterly, to compress and strangle, and this is what thorns in the soil would do;  sprang up, increased is in the tense implying it kept on growing, and this phrase is used only here in Mark










By the wayside












Stony ground












Among thorns












Good soil

















Scripture Memory:  Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.


Then He said to them, “Take heed what you ______________. With the same measure you use, it will be ______________________ to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.  For whoever has, to him _________________ will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be _________________ away from him.”                       

Mark 4:24, 25 (nkjv


AY THREE:  Perceiving Hearts

Please carefully read Mark 4:10-13 and answer the following questions.


1.  Evidently most of the multitude had departed.  What did those with Him want to know (v. 10)?


2.  How did Jesus respond to their request (v. 11)?


3.  The word mystery in Greek isn’t the “who done it” kind of mystery we think of.  In the Gospels this word is only used in Mark and Luke; Paul used it 21 times in his epistles, and it is found four times in Revelation.[v]  It comes from the Greek word mustes (one indicated), which is based on the word mueo (to close or shut); it means a hidden counsel or purpose of God which was previously hidden but now revealed to the godly, but remains hidden to the ungodly.  In verse 12, Jesus quotes Isaiah 6:9-10 as a reason for speaking in parables to the people, sadly reflecting many of their reaction to His teachings. Read Isaiah 6:1-10 to understand the context that Jesus referred to, and also 1 Corinthians 1:18-29, 2:12-14, and record some reasons why everyone can’t see the truth of the Gospel and turn to Him.


4.  What mild rebuke do we see from Jesus to His followers in verse 13?


Scripture Memory:  Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.


Then He said to them, “Take _____________ what you ______________. With the same measure you use, it will be ______________________ to you; and to you who hear, more will be ________________.  For whoever has, to him _________________ will be given; but whoever does not ______________, even what he has will be _________________ away from him.”   Mark 4:24, 25 (nkjv)



DAY FOUR:  Parable of the Soils Explained

Please carefully read Mark 4:14-20 and answer the following questions.


1.  We see that by giving this example, Jesus was speaking of four possible reactions to the Gospel; also we who are already believers may want to think of this in terms of something that God is telling us through His Word about something.  Jesus didn’t tell us who the sower is.  What are some possibilities you can think of?


2.  What is true about the impact of the seed (the Gospel and God’s Word in general) being implanted in any of the four soils (Isaiah 55:10, 11; Hebrews 4:12, 13)?


3.  On Day Two we made a chart of the four soils, what happened to the seed sown, and why.  Let’s make another chart today to accompany the other one.  Re-read verses 14-20 and fill in the chart below.










By the wayside
















Stony ground
















Among thorns
















Good soil






















Scripture Memory:  Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.


Then He said to them, “Take _____________ what you ______________. With the same ______________________ you use, it will be ______________________ to you; and to you who ______________, more will be ________________.  For whoever has, to him _________________ will be given; but whoever does not ______________, even what he has will be _________________ away from him.”   Mark 4:24, 25 (nkjv)



DAY FIVE:  Prepared Hearts

Please carefully read Mark 4:21-25 and answer the following questions.


1.  What exhortation did Jesus give to us all in verses 21, 22?


2.  Again in verse 23 Jesus repeated His warning to hear and understand what He tells us in these things.  What warning did He give to them in verses 24, 25?


3.  We alone choose how we respond to the message of the Gospel, and other things that God shows us through His Word.  We have to take heed what we hear, for what we put in we will get back out, which is another way to say we’ll reap what we sow ourselves.  We have to choose to let our hearts become good, receptive soil for His Word; the same seed hits everyone’s hearts, but only those whose hearts have been prepared—weeds taken out, rocks removed, etc.—will bear fruit.  What are some proactive steps we can take to prepare ourselves according to the following passages?


Jeremiah 4:1-4, Hosea 10:12

Psalm 1:1-3; 119:9-16

John 15:1-8

Galatians 5:16, 17; 6:7-10

Ephesians 5:15-18


Scripture Memory:  Can you write out this week’s passage by memory here below?  Give it a try, and keep reviewing the passage several times throughout the day.


Mark 4:24, 25:


DAY SIX: Following Christ

There is much we can learn about following Christ and living a life that will bear fruit for His kingdom from this parable.  Here are a few thoughts you might want to ponder.


1.  The most obvious thing you need to ask yourself is, What kind of soil am I?  It is our prayer that by this time in the study, you have received that seed of the Gospel and it is beginning to bear fruit.  Choose the one below that best describes your heart’s soil right now, and what you plan to do about it:


Along the wayside:  Perhaps you have heard the Gospel or God’s Word, but it seems to be gone as soon as you heard it, and has made no impact in your life.


Rocky soil:  Perhaps you heard the Gospel and got excited or emotional about it, and felt it’s time for you to change and follow something bigger than you are, and maybe you have even fooled some people including yourself that you are truly born again, but you are giving up because things get too hot and heavy, or are being persecuted by others because of it.


Thorny soil:  Perhaps you have heard the Gospel and feel it’s the right thing, and you get almost to the point of making a commitment to follow Christ, but then your personalproblems, worries, lusts, and other things are choking out the beginnings of the growth taking hold fully

Good soil:  You haven’t got everything down perfectly, and sometimes the things that have destroyed the other seedlings still tempt you, but you made the choice to receive Christ as your Lord and Savior, and are doing the best you can in the power of the Holy Spirit to get to know Him, and make Him known to others.


2.  Another application from this passage is for those who are doing the work of sowing the Gospel into others, or otherwise sharing the Word of God with others.  What we need to remember is that in this parable only one of four types of people respond to the Gospel, or let God’s Word be implanted, grow, and bear fruit in their lives.  When we sow the seed into another’s life, we will get different reactions to it; or we may never see the results of that seed implanted.[vi]  The plants that grow and bear fruit successfully take the longest, so because we don’t see results right away, don’t give up praying and sharing the Word with them.  Like Isaiah as we read this week, he was going to a seemingly unresponsive people, yet a remnant would be saved; so we have to proclaim the Word regardless of the response:  “for the test of ministry is not outward success but faithfulness to the Lord.”[vii]  Remember also what the apostle Paul said about these things in 1 Corinthians 3:6, 7:  “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase” (nkjv).  Write out some ways that this encourages you to not give up sowing the seed!


3.  Thirdly, this lesson showed us our responsibility in making sure our hearts are the receptive and good soil that His Word can take root in and bear fruit for Him.  Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” (John 15:16,  nkjv).  Based on the things we studied, how will you proactively seek to make the soil of your heart more receptive to His Word, beginning today? 

Scripture Memory:  Hopefully you now can write out this week’s passage completely by memory.  Do so now, and keep on reviewing it do you will be ready to share it with others in your group time.


Mark 4:24, 25:


[i] R.C.H. Lenski, Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of St. Mark’s Gospel (Peabody:  Hendrickson Publisher, Inc., 1946, 2001), p. 163.

[ii] Unless otherwise indicated, Greek word and phrase information in this lesson is based on A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  In Oak Harbor:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1932, 1933, 1997); James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible:  Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order, Electronic Edition (Ontario, Canada:  Woodside Bible Fellowship; in Oak Harbor:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996); Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader (Grand Rapids:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co; in Bellingham:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1984, 1997); and Spiros Zodhiates ed., The Complete Word Study Dictionary:  New Testament, Electronic Edition  (Chattanooga:  AMG  Publishers; in Oak Harbor:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1992, 1993, 2000).

[iii] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Vol. 1 (Wheaton:  Victor Books/SP Publications, Inc., 1989), p. 121.

[iv] This information is largely based on Robert A. Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament 4th Edition (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 1970, 1981, 1994, 2003), pp. 136, 137.

[v] D.A. Carson, Matthew.  In Frank E. Gaebelein ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 8 (Grand Rapids:  Regency Reference Library, 1984), p. 648.

[vi] Mike Stallard, Hermeneutics and Matthew 13, Part II (Conservative Theological Journal, Vol. 5:16, December 2001), p. 338.

[vii] Warren W.  Wiersbe, Be Comforted (Colorado Springs:  Chariot/Victor Publishing, 1992), p. 30.



© 2005 by Harvest Christian Fellowship. All rights reserved. Written by Thomas Klock for Men’s Bible Fellowship, 2005-2006.