What does Mark 4:4 mean?
ESV: And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.
NIV: As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.
NASB: as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up.
CSB: As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.
NLT: As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it.
KJV: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.
NKJV: And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus' main parable in Mark 4 is about a farmer sowing seed in different types of soil. As he takes handfuls of seed, out of a basket or bag slung over his shoulder, and tosses them to the ground, some will inevitably land on the hard, sunbaked path. In his attempt to fully seed the fertile land, the farmer isn't stingy with his sowing. In order to get the biggest return, he will seed the land up to and over the paths that run along the sides of the fields.

Mark 4:15 explains that the seed scattered on the path and eaten by the birds represents when the gospel is preached to hard-hearted people who are easily influenced by Satan (1 Peter 5:8). Satan takes the words of truth from the minds of the unbelievers through lies or bitterness or false beliefs. Like the sower, we shouldn't reserve our preaching of the gospel, since we don't know where that metaphorical field ends and the hardened ground begins. There will be those who seem to be "on the edge" who do receive God's words.

Jesus deals with several different types of people in Mark 3, and here He explains why they react to Him the way they did. The seeds and the hard path represent those who already had hardened hearts toward Him. Their hearts weren't willing to accept His words, and Satan quickly ensured the words wouldn't stay long enough to work through the surface. This is reflected, in varying degrees, in the Pharisees and Herodians from Galilee (Mark 3:1–6) and the Pharisees who come from Jerusalem (Mark 3:22). Soon, they will be joined by the people from Jesus' hometown (Mark 6:1–6).
Verse Context:
Mark 4:1–9 is this Gospel's first major account of Jesus' teaching. In the previous chapter, Jesus encountered varied reactions to His ministry. This passage opens with a parable describing why people react in these ways. Ironically, the very act of using parables reveals what kind of a student someone is. Those intrigued by the story and trusting of the teacher want to know more. Those who are hardened, shallow, or distracted don't allow Jesus' message to change their hearts. These events are also found in Matthew 13:1–9 and Luke 8:4–8.
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 6/13/2024 12:10:17 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.