What does Mark 4:13 mean?"Parable" comes from the Greek root word parabole. Literally, it means to place something next to another for comparison. In literature, it is a fictional account or description that acts as a metaphor for a deeper truth. A parable is not exactly the same thing as an allegory. While a parable may include allegory, an allegory is a fictional story in which a character or scenario represents a real-life person or scenario. In the parable of the sower, the sower is an allegory for anyone who teaches God's truth, particularly about Jesus. Parables bear similarities to fables, in that they both are designed to teach a moral or spiritual truth.
Jesus uses parables to give people a choice. Many listeners are content to take the surface-level lesson and go on with their lives. But some, who become His disciples, stay and ask for clarification (Mark 4:10–12). This parable is especially important for the disciples because it refers directly to them. Jesus wants them, especially, to hear (Mark 4:9) and absorb as much understanding as they can (Mark 4:24–25) so they can teach what they've learned (Mark 3:13–14; 6:7–13). They must be the fertile soil (Mark 4:20) before they can be the sower.
The parable of the sower (Mark 4:1–8) is the meta-narrative of all parables. It is an explanation of how all parables—and all teaching—work. If the disciples don't understand the parable of the sower, then they don't have the spiritual insight to understand any parable.
"All the parables" could refer to all the parables Jesus told at this time (Mark 4:2) or all the parables He ever taught. The following explanations in Mark chapter 4 all relate to the parable of the sower.