Mark 4:11

The sense of the word "mystery." Eleusinian and other heathen mysteries. Something previously hidden, but revealed in the gospel; or rather, something hidden from certain conditions of the moral nature of man, but revealed to other conditions.

I. IT AGREES WITH THE MANIFEST END OF DISCIPLESHIP. The learner seeks for knowledge. The disciple of any master desires to receive his special doctrine or discovery. It is the highest, the esoteric, teaching that is here promised. There are to be no secrets or reserves between the Master and his disciples. Revelation not the mere anticipation of experience, but its determining influence and its consummation.

II. IT IS BEYOND THE COMPASS OF UNAIDED HUMAN FACULTY. Christ said," To you it is given. They were not to discover it of themselves.

1. The noblest saints who had preceded them were not able to understand (1 Peter 1:10-12).

2. The wisdom of man could not discover them. Eye hath not seen," etc. (1 Corinthians 2:8-10; cf. Ephesians 1:15-23; Colossians 1:9, seq.).

III. IT IS A DIVINE GRACE FOR MORAL PURPOSES. This appears from the negatives of Ver. 12. To produce:

1. Repentance and faith.

2. Sympathy with Christ in his aims, works, and sufferings.

3. Triumphant superiority to the evil circumstance of the world. - M.

Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God.
As for the multitude, if you strain Christ's language respecting them, you might say they were punished for their blindness by His making dark to them things which He made clear to others. This has been said. You have heard of judicial blindness — blindness, that is to say, inflicted by God as the punishment of unbelief or other sin. But if this was the case, why did He speak to them at all? Did He wish only a dozen men, or a few dozens, to understand what He said? If then it was not to hide His meaning from the multitude that Christ taught them in parables, how do you account for His choosing to teach them in that way? To answer this question we have to consider for a moment —

I. WHAT A PARABLE IS. Now there is one thing certain as to these stories, that whatever might be His intention in using them, they do clear up things wonderfully. It would have taken a long discourse on true piety to show the distinction between it and false piety, which is shown in the Publican and the Pharisee; and what long discourse would have shown it so well? Remember this also, in regard to parables like Christ's — they keep close to reality, they reproduce nature and life. Now if we take all this into consideration as to the nature of parables, it is possible, I think, to account for Christ's speaking to the multitude in parables, and parables alone. In the first place, possibly there were what we may call considerations of prudence and policy in favour of this way of teaching. Look at the whole set of parables in this chapter; they all relate to the kingdom of God; and one thing they all more or less distinctly intimate, and it is that the establishment of that kingdom must be a work of time. It is like a sower who goes forth to sow; it is like the tares and the wheat which must grow up together until the harvest. As all these parables here suggest to us, time was needed for truth to prevail against error. Direct attack upon it was useless. Christ had tried that and found it unprofitable. And here the parables came in to serve the purpose. They did not assail error or assert truth controversially. Everyone could take from them and make of them what he pleased. But there was one thing certain with regard to them, and it was that they were certain to be remembered. They were sure to pass from mouth to mouth, and travel where doctrine however clear, or precept however just, would not reach. The meaning in them now open to the few would remain, and by and by might be perceived by the many. Time would ripen them for the purpose of instructing the multitude as well as the disciples. And this was their special virtue, that while they were thus fitted to preserve truth from being forgotten, they were above all fitted to preserve truth from being corrupted. Those whose minds were filled with the Pharisees' ideas of religion could hardly help misunderstanding and misrepresenting the doctrinal sayings of Jesus. But it is impossible to corrupt, or sophisticate, or distort the story of the Prodigal Son or the Good Samaritan. A parable cannot be qualified like a saying or a body of doctrine. It is a bit of fact, and cannot be qualified by words. It keeps its meaning pure in spite of every effort to corrupt it. It is of kin with nature, which, whatever you may say of it or of any part of it, remains nature still, and is the truth. And thus it was for one thing Christ spoke to the multitude in parables. His purpose was to teach them truth, but their minds being filled with error, they had to unlearn that first. He spoke in parables, knowing that parables would last, and that while they lasted and were working their work, they would not, because they could not, be corrupted. But the great thing was that which distinguishes parables from other figures of speech — that they keep close to reality, to nature, and to life. It was the special vice of the religion of the multitude in Christ's day, that it was wholly artificial, all sacrifice and no mercy. Their teachers taught them for doctrine the commandments of men, the thousand and one arbitrary rules about eating and drinking, about fasts and feasts, about offerings, about days, about intercourse with Gentiles, and touching the dead. The scope of Christ's teaching was exactly the opposite of this. He was for mercy, and not sacrifice; for righteousness, and not mint and anise and cumin. It suited His doctrine, therefore, to be taught in parables. The world itself, if your doctrine is mercy, is one great parable ready for your use. Reality of any kind is truth, and all truth, from the lowest to the highest, is one; so that there are books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. The truth of things, begin with it where you will, if you follow it out will lead you up to God. You can make birds and beasts, and virtues and vices talk what you please; but you cannot, if you go to nature and human life find a parable to fit a lie. Christ chose that form of teaching which brought men face to face with nature and human life, because the men He had to teach, in the matter of their religion had departed as far as was possible from the truth of things, and had lost themselves in sayings and commandments and traditions, questions and strifes of words. He put truth into a form in which it could not perish or be corrupted; He turned his hearers' minds in the direction in which they could soonest unlearn their errors and be prepared to receive His truth.

II. Now, consider THE DIFFERENT EFFECT OF HIS PARABLES UPON THE MULTITUDE AND THE DISCIPLES. As for the multitude, they had first to begin and unlearn everything they believed, before they could perceive the truth which His parables contained. Before anything in this particular set of parables here as to the kingdom of God could reach their minds, they had to unlearn all that they had learned from their teachers as to the kingdom of God being a Jewish commonwealth. The sower going forth to sow, the tares and the wheat growing up together until the harvest, the grain of mustard seed, the leaven hid in meal, the net dropped into the sea — what had these to tell them of their ideal Jewish commonwealth? They would find no meaning in these, as far as that kingdom of heaven was concerned. This, to be sure, was not to be the final effect of Christ's parables, even upon the multitude. From being brought into this school of nature and life some of them at least would begin to feel its influence in turning them away from strifes of words about rites and ceremonies. Contact with reality could scarcely fail in many cases to engender suspicion, and then distrust, of all that was fictitious; and so in the decline of error truth would have its day. But, while, in course of time this might be the effect of the parables upon the multitude, the immediate effect, no doubt, was to confuse and darken their minds. Turn, on the ether hand, to the disciples. They had, at least in part, unlearned the false. They had begun to appreciate the true. To the minds of the disciples, alive already to the value of righteousness and the worthlessness of ceremonial sanctity, how rich in instruction and in comfort the story of the Prodigal Son! — how true and how glorious its representation of the great Father as one who is never so happy as when He has to welcome back to the home of eternal goodness and eternal blessedness the erring and miserable of His children! To their minds again how full of meaning and of comfort, the parable of the Lost Sheep! — the suggestion of the Eternal Righteousness engrossed, to the neglect of suns and solar systems, in the recovery of one soul which has strayed into the damnation of evil. Think that these disciples, like the multitude, were Jews, and held, till Christ began to teach, the religious notions of the multitude. Then consider all the certainty and breadth and fulness which these parables of their Master could not but give to their new faith, — faith in God as good, in goodness as man's true life, in the ultimate triumph of good over evil. Consider under what a different aspect the world now presented itself to their minds. He said to His disciples in reference to these parables, "Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear;" and also when he added, "For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." I conclude with two remarks, the first of which is, that not one religion, but every religion, that of Christ included is apt, in the common mind, to degenerate into ceremonialism and strifes of words. And, in that case, what professes to be light becomes the grossest of darkness. It was not for an age, therefore, but for all time, that Christ spoke in parables to the multitude. These parables of His, bringing us into contact with nature and human life, furnish us with a resource of inestimable value against the prevalence of irreligion, error, infidelity, not only in the world, but in the church. Thus the parables are the salt of Christianity to preserve it from corruption and extinction; they recall us from all this barren or disgraceful war of words to the sterling virtue of the Good Samaritan, and the substantial goodness of the Prodigal's Father. Again, I remark, the blessedness of Christian belief is that it is a vision of the universe as undivided. What did the disciples, who were blessed in their seeing, see? When it was given to them, as it was not given to the multitude, to understand these parables, what did they hear and comprehend? It was not that their own souls were to be saved; it was not that the Jews were to be converted, or the Gentiles to be visited by Christian missionaries. It was, that the kingdom of God, the Father and Saviour of all men, is eternal; that evil here and every. where is temporary, and good alone is forever and ever.

(J. Service, D. D.)

Galilee, Sea of Galilee
Entrusted, Figurative, Form, Kingdom, Language, Mystery, Outside, Parables, Reign, Replied, Saying, Secret, Similes, Spoken, Stories, Truth
1. The parable of the sower,
14. and the meaning thereof.
21. We must communicate the light of our knowledge to others.
26. The parable of the seed growing secretly;
30. and of the mustard seed.
35. Jesus stills the storm on the sea.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Mark 4:11

     1403   God, revelation
     6694   mystery
     6708   predestination
     7545   outsiders

Mark 4:1-20

     2357   Christ, parables

Mark 4:1-34

     2345   Christ, kingdom of

Mark 4:3-16

     4121   Satan, enemy of God

Mark 4:9-12

     2363   Christ, preaching and teaching
     5159   hearing

Mark 4:10-11

     5941   secrecy
     7632   Twelve, characters of

Mark 4:10-12

     2426   gospel, responses
     5438   parables
     6710   privileges
     7708   apostles, function

Mark 4:10-13

     5263   communication

Mark 4:10-20

     8319   perception, spiritual

Mark 4:11-12

     1445   revelation, responses
     2366   Christ, prophecies concerning
     6734   repentance, importance
     8844   unforgiveness

Mark 4:11-13

     8355   understanding

October 1 Evening
Grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.--EPH. 4:15. First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.--Till we all come to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. They measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved,
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

December 21 Evening
Master, carest thou not that we perish?--MARK 4:38. The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.--While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease. The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.--God heard the voice of the lad: and the angel of
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

Lamps and Bushels
'And Jesus said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?'--Mark iv. 21. The furniture of a very humble Eastern home is brought before us in this saying. In the original, each of the nouns has the definite article attached to it, and so suggests that in the house there was but one of each article; one lamp, a flat saucer with a wick swimming in oil; one measure for corn and the like; one bed, raised slightly, but sufficiently to admit
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Four Soils for one Seed
'And when He was alone, they that were about Him with the twelve asked of Him the parable. 11. And He said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: 12. That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. 13. And He said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Storm Stilled
'And the same day, when the even was come, He saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. 36. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took Him even as He was in the ship. And there were also with Him other little ships. 37. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38. And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, Master, carest Thou not that we perish? 39. And He arose,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Toiling Christ
'They took Him even as He was in the ship.... And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow.'--Mark iv. 36, 38. Among the many loftier characteristics belonging to Christ's life and work, there is a very homely one which is often lost sight of; and that is, the amount of hard physical exertion, prolonged even to fatigue and exhaustion, which He endured. Christ is our pattern in a great many other things more impressive and more striking; and He is our pattern in this, that 'in the
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The First Great Group of Parables.
(Beside the Sea of Galilee.) Subdivision C. Parable of the Seed Growing Itself. ^B Mark IV. 26-29. ^b 26 And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed upon the earth; 27 and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring up and grow, he knoweth not how. [In the kingdom of grace, as well as in the kingdom of nature, we are laborers together with God. As preachers, teachers, or friends we sow the seed of the kingdom and God brings it to perfection (I. Cor. iii.
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Seed Growing Secretly.
"And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come."--MARK iv. 26-29. This is the only parable that is peculiar to Mark. The subjects contained in
William Arnot—The Parables of Our Lord

Ancient Versions of the Old Testament.
In the present chapter only those versions of the Old Testament are noticed which were made independently of the New. Versions of the whole Bible, made in the interest of Christianity, are considered in the following part. I. THE GREEK VERSION CALLED THE SEPTUAGINT. 1. This is worthy of special notice as the oldest existing version of the holy Scriptures, or any part of them, in any language; and also as the version which exerted a very large influence on the language and style of the New Testament;
E. P. Barrows—Companion to the Bible

Harvest. See! the corn again in ear! How the fields and valleys smile! Harvest now is drawing near To repay the farmer's toil: Gracious LORD, secure the crop, Satisfy the poor with food; In thy mercy is our hope, We have sinned but thou art good. While I view the plenteous grain As it ripens on the stalk; May I not instruction gain, Helpful, to my daily walk? All this plenty of the field Was produced from foreign seeds; For the earth itself would yield Only crops of useless weeds. Though, when
John Newton—Olney Hymns

Of Avoiding Heresies and Superstitions, and what is the Only True Catholic Church.
But since many heresies have existed, and the people of God have been rent into divisions at the instigation of demons, the truth must be briefly marked out by us, and placed in its own peculiar dwelling-place, that if any one shall desire to draw the water of life, he may not be borne to broken cisterns [898] which hold no water, but may know the abundant fountain of God, watered by which he may enjoy perpetual light. Before all things, it is befitting that we should know both that He Himself and
Lactantius—The divine institutes

On Earthly Things
The earth is man himself; in the gospel: another has fallen into the good earth. The same in a bad part about the sinner: you devour the earth all the days of your life. [Mark 4:18; Genesis 3:14] The dry lands are the flesh of a fruitless man; in Ecclesiastes, to work in a dry land with evil and sorrow. [Ecclesiastes 37:3] The dust is a sinner or the vanity of the flesh; in the psalm: like the dust, which the wind blows about. [Ps. 1:4 Vulgate] The mud is the gluttony of sinners; in the psalm: tear
St. Eucherius of Lyons—The Formulae of St. Eucherius of Lyons

On the Animals
The birds are the saints, because they fly to the higher heart; in the gospel: and he made great branches that the birds of the air might live in their shade. [Mark 4:32] Flying is the death of the saints in God or the knowledge of the Scriptures; in the psalm: I shall fly and I shall be at rest. [Ps. 54(55):7 Vulgate] The wings are the two testaments; in Ezekiel: your body will fly with two wings of its own. [Ez. 1:23] The feathers are the Scriptures; in the psalm: the wings of the silver dove.
St. Eucherius of Lyons—The Formulae of St. Eucherius of Lyons

Four Miracles
"And there was a great calm." MARK 4:39 (R.V.) "Behold, him that was possessed with devils, sitting, clothed and in his right mind, even him that had the legion." v. 15 (R.V.) "Who touched Me?" v. 31 (R.V.) "Talitha cumi." v. 41 (R.V.) THERE are two ways, equally useful, of studying Scripture, as there are of regarding the other book of God, the face of Nature. We may bend over a wild flower, or gaze across a landscape; and it will happen that a naturalist, pursuing a moth, loses sight of a mountain
G. A. Chadwick—The Gospel of St. Mark

The Parables
"And again He began to teach by the sea side. And there is gathered unto Him a very great multitude, so that He entered into a boat, and sat in the sea; and all the multitude were by the sea on the land. And He taught them many things in parables, and said unto them in His teaching. . . . "And when He was alone, they that were about Him with the twelve asked of Him the parables. And He said unto them, Unto you is given the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all things
G. A. Chadwick—The Gospel of St. Mark

Chapter: 4:21-25 Lamp and Stand
"And He said unto them, Is the lamp brought to be put under the bushel, or under the bed? and not to be put on the stand? For there is nothing hid, save that it should be manifested; neither was anything made secret, but that it should come to light. If any man hath ears to hear, let him hear. And He said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete it shall be measured unto you: and more shall be given unto you. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from
G. A. Chadwick—The Gospel of St. Mark

The Seed Growing Secretly
"And He said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed upon the earth; and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring up and grow, he knoweth not how. The earth beareth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is ripe, straightway he putteth forth the sickle, because the harvest is come." MARK 4:26-29 (R.V.) ST. Mark alone records this parable of a sower who sleeps by night, and rises for other business by
G. A. Chadwick—The Gospel of St. Mark

The Sower
"Hearken: Behold the sower went forth to sow: and it came to pass, as he sowed, some seed fell by the way side, and the birds came and devoured it. And other fell on the rocky ground, where it had not much earth; and straightway it sprang up, because it had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And other fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And others fell into the good ground,
G. A. Chadwick—The Gospel of St. Mark

The Mustard Seed
"And He said, How shall we liken the kingdom of God? or in what parable shall we set it forth? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown upon the earth, though it be less than all the seeds that are upon the earth, yet when it is sown, groweth up, and becometh greater than all the herbs, and putteth out great branches; so that the birds of the heaven can lodge under the shadow thereof. And with many such parables spake He the word unto them, as they were able to hear it: and without
G. A. Chadwick—The Gospel of St. Mark

The Two Storms (Jesus Walking on the Water)
"And on that day, when even was come, He saith unto them, Let us go over unto the other side. And leaving the multitude, they take Him with them, even as He was, in the boat. And other boats were with Him. And there ariseth a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the boat, insomuch that the boat was now filling. And He Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, Master, carest Thou not that we perish? And He awoke, and rebuked the wind, and said unto
G. A. Chadwick—The Gospel of St. Mark

Sovereignty of God in Administration
"The LORD hath prepared His Throne In the heavens; and His Kingdom ruleth over all" (Psa. 103:19). First, a word concerning the need for God to govern the material world. Suppose the opposite for a moment. For the sake of argument, let us say that God created the world, designed and fixed certain laws (which men term "the laws of Nature"), and that He then withdrew, leaving the world to its fortune and the out-working of these laws. In such a case, we should have a world over which there was no intelligent,
Arthur W. Pink—The Sovereignty of God

The First Great Group of Parables.
(Beside the Sea of Galilee.) Subdivision A. Introduction. ^A Matt. XIII. 1-3; ^B Mark IV. 1, 2; ^C Luke VIII. 4. ^a 1 On that day went Jesus out of the house [It is possible that Matthew here refers to the house mentioned at Mark iii. 19. If so, the events in Sections XLVIII.-LVI. all occurred on the same day. There are several indications in the gospel narratives that this is so], and sat by the sea side. ^b 1 And again he began again to teach by the sea side. [By the Sea of Galilee.] And there
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus Stills the Storm.
(Sea of Galilee; Same Day as Last Section) ^A Matt. VIII. 18-27; ^B Mark IV. 35-41; ^C Luke VIII. 22-25. ^b 35 And that day, { ^c one of those days,} ^b when the even was come [about sunset], ^a when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side. { ^b he saith unto them, Let us go over unto the other side.} [Wearied with a day of strenuous toil, Jesus sought rest from the multitude by passing to the thinly settled on the east side of Galilee.] ^a 19 And there
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

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