Mark 4:1-20 The Parable of the Sower


Mark 4:1-20


Jesus tells and interprets a parable about people’s reception of the word of God.


The parable of the sower stands at the beginning of a string of parables and many interpreters have seen it as the key to understanding the ones that follow. The parable of the sower presents one of the instances in which Mark shifts scenes to allow his readers to feel as though they belong to Jesus’ inner circle.

The parable itself is told to a crowd gathered on the lakeshore. Immediately thereafter, the scene shifts to Jesus alone with his disciples. Away from the crowds, Jesus reveals to the disciples the paradoxical nature of parables. Quoting Isaiah 6:9-10, Jesus teaches them that the parables are meant to obscure! For the disciples (and for the readers), the secret of the interpretation is made available.

The interpretation reveals the difficult nature of following Jesus. Jesus’ words are opposed by Satan who steals them from believers, as well as by authorities who persecute his followers. Even the world itself is opposed to Jesus, laying worries and other traps for hearers of the word. The parable ends, however, with a word of hope: those who hear and hold to the word will yield abundantly.