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Mark 4:21-41 Mark’s Gospel Study

Key Verses: 31,32 Lesson 7
It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. 32 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.”

1. What do you do with a lamp (21)?

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?

You use the lamp to light your way.

How is the word of God like a lamp (22)?

For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be
brought out into the open.”

Light shows you the way; much in the way that God sent Jesus to show us the way to live our

Like the lamp, Jesus' teachings reveal the motives of the human heart. Time would prove the
reality of His teaching and bring the secret hidden things of men to light.

2. Why is listening so important (23,24)?

“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. 24 Consider carefully what you hear,” he
continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more.

To hear the right things and respond properly is absolutely basic to spiritual prosperity. How
important it is that we be selective in our listening and our looking. We are programming our
actions all the time by what we look at and listen to (James 1:19).
How will you be judged (24,25)?
Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be
measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have,
even what he has will be taken from him.”

You will be judged in the manner that you judge others. Whoever has, meaning those who
possess spiritual life, will continue to learn and grow. Whoever does not have spiritual life will
lose even what little desire for God he or she seems to have.

3. In the process of farming, what does the man do and what does the seed do (26b-
He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27
Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not
know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full
kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has

The man scatters the seed – the seed sprouts though through no action of the man. God makes all
the things in world – it is He who is in control.

Plants develop in a complex, intricate process that humans still do not fully understand even two
thousand years after Jesus spoke these words. Yet plants grow and bear fruit and seeds just the
same. God's kingdom likewise is growing, although we do not understand all that is happening.
This parable, which appears only in Mark's Gospel, presents God's kingdom in brief, from first
sowing to final reaping. Truly, we are fellow workers with God. But we are also totally
dependent on Him for growth.

How is the kingdom of God like this (26a; 1Co 3:6-9)?

1Co 3:6
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor
he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The man who plants and the
man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9 For
we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
4. What is the contrast between a mustard seed and the plant it becomes (31,32)?
Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to
describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. 32 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.”

Smallest seed yet the largest of all garden plants.

A mustard seed is much smaller than a kernel of corn or a grain of wheat, yet its growth is more
spectacular, reaching a height of ten to twelve feet. The point is the comparatively large result
from such a humble and insignificant beginning. The kingdom that Jesus came to announce drew
little support during His life but will find complete fulfillment when He returns.

How is the kingdom of God like this (30; Mk 3:14; Lk 10:1; Acts 1:15,2:41,4:4,13:49; Mk
16:15; 1Co 15:24; Re 21:1-4,16,17)?
Mk 3:14
He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he
might send them out to preach…
Lk 10:1
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to
every town and place where he was about to go.
Acts 1:15
In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)...
Acts 2:41
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to
their number that day.
Acts 4:4
But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.
Acts 13:49
The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.
Mk 16:15
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”

1Co 15:24
Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has
destroyed all dominion, authority and power.

Rev 21:1
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there
was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as
a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of
God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be
their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for
the old order of things has passed away.” 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured
the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 He measured its
wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man’s measurement, which the angel was using.
Why do you think Jesus taught using parables (33,34)?
With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34
He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own
disciples, he explained everything.

Those who were spiritually ready would understand the deeper meaning of the parable. From last

Jesus apparently used parables for several reasons. First, they are interesting and grab the
listener's attention. Second, such stories are easily remembered. Third, they reveal truth to those
who are ready spiritually to receive it. Fourth, they conceal truth from those who oppose Christ's
message. Frequently, Jesus' opponents failed to understand the lessons because of their own
spiritual blindness

5. How bad was the storm (35-37)?

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36
Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other
boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was
nearly swamped.

It was a very bad storm.

How do you think Jesus could sleep during such a powerful storm (38a)?
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.

1) He was tired and needed rest.

2) Jesus had command of the situation as the Son.

What do you think the disciples’ question reveals about their hearts at that time (38b)?
The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
They were fearful – they did not trust that everything would be ok when they were with Jesus.

6. Who or what did Jesus rebuke first—the disciples or the storm (39,40)?
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down
and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have
no faith?”

First the storm then his disciples.

Why is fear, evidence of a lack of faith (40)?

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

If they believed and trusted – had faith- they would not have feared the storm.

What would have been a better question to ask Jesus?

You have seen me perform countless miracles? Do you still doubt that I am the Son of God, the
living Messiah?

Why were the disciples terrified if Jesus had already calmed the storm (41)?
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey

Only God can control a storm like that.

7. Who do you believe Jesus is?

Who does Jesus claim to be (Mk 14:61,62; Jn 5:17,18,21,22)?

Mk 14:61
But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you
the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man
sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Jn 5:17
Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” 18 For
this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even
calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. 21For just as the Father raises the dead and
gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22Moreover, the Father judges
no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son…

Who do the Scriptures say Jesus is (Isa 9:6; Jn 1:1-3,14; He 1:3,8)?

Isa 9:6
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Jn 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with
God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been
made. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of
the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

He 1:3
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things
by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the
Majesty in heaven. 8 But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and
righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.”