What does Mark 4:33 mean?
ESV: With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it.
NIV: With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.
NASB: And with many such parables He was speaking the word to them, so far as they were able to understand it;
CSB: He was speaking the word to them with many parables like these, as they were able to understand.
NLT: Jesus used many similar stories and illustrations to teach the people as much as they could understand.
KJV: And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it.
NKJV: And with many such parables He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it.
Verse Commentary:
The "they" in this verse is the crowds of people (Mark 4:1–2). A parable is a metaphorical story which takes an everyday event or situation and applies it to reveal a spiritual truth. Jesus uses parables to draw people in. Many are willing to listen to His short stories and perhaps contemplate how they relate to their lives. But only a few (Mark 4:10, 34) stay behind and ask for further explanation.

"Word" is from the Greek root word logos. The definition encompasses speech, language, reason, and logic. The apostle John identifies Jesus as the Logos (John 1:1). The Word is living and active. It isn't just information; its sharp truth can detect the slightest variations (Hebrews 4:12). In order for the Word to reach someone, the person must be prepared. By speaking in enigmatic parables, Jesus gives the people space to consider what He's saying and time for their perspectives to come around to His point of view. Even the disciples need time.

The purpose of Jesus' words isn't to increase knowledge, or even inspire legalistic obedience—the point is to create a changed heart. That result requires time and the work of the Holy Spirit. To present all the truth of the kingdom of God without preparing people would have been dangerous because, like the Pharisees, many would have wholly rejected what they half understood.

So Jesus is strategic in His speaking ministry. He understands that some people cannot take in too much new information (Mark 4:24–25).
Verse Context:
Mark 4:30–34 is a lesson from Jesus about the power of His message. Jesus is preparing His disciples to preach the gospel. He's talked about the different types of students they'll encounter (Mark 4:1–20, 24–25), the need for teaching (Mark 4:21–23), and the fact that they can't make anyone listen (Mark 4:24–29). Like the growth of the tiny mustard seed, the gospel will cause a great movement that will change lives across the world. Mark finishes the section with a reminder of how and why Jesus uses parables to teach (Mark 4:33–34). This account is also found in Matthew 13:31–32, 34–35 and Luke 13:18–19.
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 5/24/2024 10:51:30 PM
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