What does Mark 4:20 mean?
ESV: But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
NIV: Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop--some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.'
NASB: And those are the ones sown with seed on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundred times as much.'
CSB: And those like seed sown on good ground hear the word, welcome it, and produce fruit thirty, sixty, and a hundred times what was sown."
NLT: And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!'
KJV: And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
NKJV: But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
Verse Commentary:
The parable of the sower is a metaphor for why the people described in Mark chapter 3 reacted to Jesus in such varying ways. The seeds that land on the good soil represent the disciples (Mark 3:13–19), those whom Jesus calls His family (Mark 3:32–35), and anyone who asks for further clarification into the parable (Mark 4:10). But while the gospel and the gift of salvation are free, they aren't passive.

Ephesians 2:8–9 clearly says that salvation is not dependent on any work we can do. It is impossible to be "good" enough to earn our way into heaven. Salvation is because of the work of Jesus on the cross, and He continues that work in us for a purpose (Philippians 1:6). "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

Jesus goes into this concept more deeply in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14–30). The Holy Spirit equips us, gives us gifts (Romans 12:6–8; 1 Corinthians 12:4–11, 28) and even does the heavy lifting (John 16:7–11). We are responsible for using the resources He has given us for the kingdom of God. And yet both the ability and the desire to do so are also gifts of God (Philippians 2:13).

Although Jesus did the work of the gospel by dying on the cross and rising again, we are called to do the work of spreading the gospel. In John 14:12, He promises that those who believe in Him will do greater works than He. "Greater works" not meaning more powerful, but farther-reaching. In Colossians 1:24, Paul explains that his ministry to spread the gospel fills up what was "lacking in Christ's afflictions."
Verse Context:
Mark 4:10–20 follows Jesus' telling of the parable of the sower, and now and the disciples would like to understand the deeper truths in the story. Jesus made a habit of explaining parables to those who wanted to know more than the general crowd. The fact that they are curious proves that they are the good soil that will produce much fruit. Jesus explains how the growth of the seeds represent why people react differently to His message (Mark 3). The subsequent parables will go deeper into what it will take for the gospel to spread successfully. You can also find this account in Matthew 13:10–23 and Luke 8:9–15.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus speaks in parables to the assembled crowd, giving them an opportunity to decide how much spiritual truth they want to absorb. The disciples, wanting to learn more, ask Jesus to explain the meaning of the parables He has taught. As Jesus explains these ideas, He demonstrates that a person's spiritual knowledge is based on their willingness to pursue truth. After describing Jesus' teaching in some detail, the Gospel of Mark describes how Jesus calms a storm on the Sea of Galilee.
Chapter Context:
Mark 3 explores the different ways people react to Jesus' teaching and miracles. They either follow Him, use Him, hide Him, or destroy Him. In Mark 4, Jesus explains why people react the way they do. He uses parables to explain who is serious about learning from Him. The softer a person's heart is, the more truth God will reveal. Soon, the twelve will also spread Jesus' message, although they will not be responsible for the spiritual growth of those who believe. The following chapter returns to depicting Jesus' miracles, including two of His most famous.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Mark emphasizes both Jesus' servanthood and His role as the promised Messiah: the Son of God. This is done through a concise, action-packed style. Mark provides relatively few details, instead focusing on actions and simple statements. This relates to the Gospel's authorship, which is believed to be based on the memories of the apostle Peter. These include many of Jesus' miracles, in contrast to other Gospels which include many more of Jesus' teachings and parables. Mark also makes frequent mention of Jesus' ministry being misunderstood by others.
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