What does Mark 4:28 mean?
ESV: The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
NIV: All by itself the soil produces grain--first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.
NASB: The soil produces crops by itself; first the stalk, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.
CSB: The soil produces a crop by itself--first the blade, then the head, and then the full grain on the head.
NLT: The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens.
KJV: For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.
NKJV: For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head.
Verse Commentary:
The parable of the growing seed explains that God calls teachers to teach, but no person can actually bring about spiritual maturity in another. The Holy Spirit causes spiritual growth. The "full grain in the ear" represents a believer who has grown in faith enough to spread the gospel to others.

It's tempting to make a theology of salvation out of the progression of blade, ear, and full grain, but that is not Jesus' intent in this instance. Still, there are some lessons here relevant to salvation. Jesus talks about grain that germinates and grows into stalks but is destroyed by the sun or the thorns (Mark 4:5–7). This represents people who hear the gospel and react favorably at first, but can't withstand the trials, persecution, or their love of worldly riches (Mark 4:16–19).

Conversely, authentic salvation always results in visibly changed lives (James 2:17). As we grow in faith, the Holy Spirit changes us, allowing us to express His character (Galatians 5:22–23). Critically, though, we should remember that just as the Holy Spirit gives believers different gifts (Romans 12:6–8; 1 Corinthians 12:4–11), each individual grows in a different way. We can't judge the salvation of another who doesn't grow the way we expect them to (Romans 14:1–4).

The most important growth, one every believer should exhibit, is the desire to spread Jesus' gospel to others. This is why He chooses the twelve (Mark 3:13–15). After His resurrection, He gives the twelve the Great Commission to spread the gospel, make disciples, baptize new believers, and teach them to obey His words (Matthew 28:18–20). That command is for us, as well.
Verse Context:
Mark 4:26–29 contains Jesus' description of the responsibility of the teacher. Jesus had selected the twelve as apostles to spread the gospel (Mark 3:14). He has explained why He teaches with parables (Mark 4:1–20) and the importance of the act of teaching and the receptivity of the student (Mark 4:21–25). Now He clarifies that it is the teacher's job to speak the truth. However, the spiritual growth resulting from that teaching is beyond the teacher's control (1 Corinthians 3:5–9). Next, Jesus will teach His disciples about the effectiveness of the gospel (Mark 4:30–32). This parable isn't found in the other synoptic gospels, although a similar, extended passage is in Matthew 13:24–30.
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.
Accessed 5/29/2024 2:38:52 PM
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