What does Mark 4:9 mean?
ESV: And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
NIV: Then Jesus said, 'Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.'
NASB: And He was saying, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'
CSB: Then he said, "Let anyone who has ears to hear listen."
NLT: Then he said, 'Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.'
KJV: And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
NKJV: And He said to them, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Verse Commentary:
This verse acts as the matching bookend to the introduction of the parable, as begun in verse 3. Jesus starts with the command to listen, and ends with the command to hear. To "listen" is to make the effort to catch the words of the speaker; to "hear" is to have the words in hand so you can analyze the message.

The wording of this verse infers that some can accept Jesus' words while others can't, but this "deafness" may be partial and/or temporary. As human beings, we often ignore the Bible if it tells us what we don't want to hear about a certain topic, such as sex. Peter had issues with accepting Gentiles into Jesus' family. After a very graphic vision (Acts 10:9–16) and firsthand proof that God gives the Holy Spirit to non-Jews (Acts 10:34, 44), he still had a hard time completely accepting them into the church (Galatians 2:11–14).

For others, this spiritual deafness is more complete, but temporary. Paul's conversion is probably the most dramatic (Acts 9), but priests (Acts 6:7), Pharisees, and Jesus' own brothers (Acts 1:14) also came to accept Him as their savior. This is one reason why we should spread the gospel liberally. Someone may not be listening in the moment, but the words could bear fruit in the future.

We choose whether to hear, but we also choose how much to hear. Mark 4:24–25 explains that we determine how big the "measure"—meaning the container—we want filled with Jesus' words. We decide how much of the truth we want to hear and accept. Jesus understands that His message is a lot to take in. He gives us truth as we are able to accept it (Mark 4:33). As we learn more about Him and have more faith in Him, we should naturally see our ability to accept His words grow. If we find ourselves in a place of unbelief, it may be that we are caught up in the rocky ground of persecution or the choking thorns of consumerism. We need to evaluate our lives to see what sin and distractions are keeping us from hearing what Jesus has to say.
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 5/29/2024 2:58:43 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.