MARK 4:21-41

As we continue on in Mark chapter 4, remember that this is the continuation of the day that began in Mark 3:20. It was a tough day of ministry, and it is not over yet. Even at the end of the day, as Jesus tried to sleep on the boat as they crossed over the Sea of Galilee, He is going to be awakened, His work was not done yet.

Last week we studied the parable of the soils, and we saw how the various soils represented a persons heart and how their heart responded as they heard the Word of God. Some hearts were hard and the Word of God could not penetrate it. Other hearts were very shallow, very superficial. When they heard the Word of God they received it with joy until difficult times came, and their faith was gone. Still others, as they heard the Word of God it was chocked out by the cares of this world, just as weeds choke out the various crops. All of these people are not saved. But there is one more heart, a heart that is rich and fertile and when they hear the Word of God and receive it into their lives, they grow and produce fruit. Only 25% of the seed that was sown, 25% of the time that God’s Word went out, did it produce fruit. But that fruit was abundant. And the potential of those seeds to produce fruit was available to everyone, the seed was the same, it was the soil it was planted in, the heart that made the difference.

Now as we move into verse 21 of Mark chapter 4, we get into another parable, this one is the parable of the lamp. So lets dig in and see what this is all about.


VERSES 21-25

1. Now this parable is born out of what transpires in the life of the person that God saved. It speaks of the purpose and responsibility that a child of God has. The lamps in those days consisted of a clay dish, oil that filled the dish, and a wick. Now how do you get light from that? First of all you must light the wick, you must be saved! As the wick is lit it will consume the oil that is in the dish. The oil represents the Holy Spirit, and thus, as children of God we must be constantly being filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit.

We must understand that the constant fresh filling of God’s truth into our lives is not to be hidden. We must take what God has given to us, apply it to our lives, and share those truths with others. Be a light, let Him shine through you to a world in darkness! Let your faith be seen, because I read no where in the Scriptures of secret agent Christians! Jesus put it this way in Matthew 5:14-16. He said "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

2. Again, as Jesus sits in this boat off shore, He is speaking to the multitudes that had gathered on shore. And His point is this. If you want to know more about God, get into His Word and God will open up to you more and more spiritual insight. If you are faithful in what God has given you, He will give you more. But, if you are not faithful to what God has given to you, God will make your thinking darker and darker. There will be no desire to grow. As Paul said in II Timothy 3:7 of these people, they are "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." To make this point of Jesus very simple, if you don’t use it you will lose it!

VERSES 26-29

1. Jesus is speaking of how growth and the work of God is very much like a farmer who plants seeds. You see, as the Word of God is spoken, sown like seeds in a sense, in time it will begin to germinate and grow. Many times we don’t even know or see it happening. And before you know it, a new life begins, a person has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior! It is as Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

2. At the end of the season what happens? It is harvest time! And the Lord of the harvest will gather His church together at the end of the age. James 5:7-9 puts it this way. We read "Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!"

3. That is one harvest, but there is another harvest spoken of in the Scriptures. And that is the harvest of the wicked. You can read of it in Revelation 14:14-20, which says, "Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.’ So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses' bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs."

Also, in Matthew 3:11-12 John the baptist said, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." The Lord of the harvest will deal righteously in His actions. The choice is up to us on what harvest we want to be a part of.


1. Jesus is now going to give us a picture of the kingdom of God on this earth. And as you read this, you may be surprised at what Jesus is saying. First of all, to sum up the parables on the kingdom of God so far, we have seen the first parable speaking of salvation. The next one of letting our light shine. Then the fruit that is born in our lives. And now we come to the summation of what the church age is like.

VERSES 31-34

1. The mustard seed is a very tiny seed that grows into a bush, maybe some 12 to 15 feet high. But it is not a tree nor will it ever be a tree. But, in Luke 13:19 Jesus calls it a tee. Why did He do that and how in the world does this relate to the kingdom of God, the church age? The bush that grows abnormally, bigger than it should have, allows the birds of the air to rest in its branches, they can hide within the branches of this bush. The church when it got its start was very small and yet, over time it grew very large. In fact it grew so much that the birds of the air can rest with in it!

What do the birds represent? Remember in the parable of the soils, that is the key to unlocking this. In that parable we are told that the birds represent Satan and his demonic forces. That means the church, with this abnormal growth, has allowed Satan and his forces to take refuge within its walls. That is very sad. In other words, the church is going to look a lot bigger than it really is.

Jesus speaks of this in the parable of the wheat and the tares, found in Matthew 13:24-30. In the field the farmer sowed his seed, but amongst the good seed were tares. And as they grew together, they were indistinguishable from the wheat. It wasn’t until the time of the harvest that the two can be distinguished, and that was important for some of the tares were poisonous. And of this Jesus said in Matthew 13:30, "‘Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."" God will separate the wheat from the tares!

VERSES 35-36

1. Here we are at the close of a long day of ministry for Jesus. After this long, tough day, Jesus gets into a boat and tells his men to sail over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Physically He must have been exhausted at this point, and as we will see, He is going to fall asleep on this boat as they set sail.


1. Wind storms are common on this lake called the Sea of Galilee. It is really only a lake though, and it is only some 8 miles wide and 15 miles long. But it is low, surrounded by mountains, and when the wind would come down off those mountains, they would come upon the lake with force. In fact, Mount Hermon, which is only some 9 miles away to the north, and is some 9,500 feet in elevation, would have very cold temperatures while the Galilee area would have warm temperatures. What happens when hot air and cold air mix? Storms will blow up as they did on this lake.

2. Now this was more than just a normal storm. It was a furious squall and as I said, these storms, even though it is only a lake, can be very dangerous. Back in 1965 a storm broke out and caused waves some 10 feet high! Now as this storm was brewing, Jesus fell asleep in the back of the boat. He rested His head on a pillow that was nothing more than 120 pounds of sand that was used for balance and placed in the back of the boat on a shelf. Now Jesus must have been tired to sleep on wood, and rest his head on a hard sand pillow, while a storm was beating down upon them.

3. Picture in your mind what is going on here. The storm is raging. Water is filling the boat. The disciples are trying their best to bail out the water, but it is coming in faster than they can get it out. And thus, when all hope was lost, verse 38 is born, it is born out of their frustration. And keep in mind, if fishermen are scared in a boat, you better be!


1. Here it is. Jesus is sleeping, the disciples bailing! Jesus is sleeping, the disciples are thinking they are going to die! Jesus is sleeping, and the disciples concluded that Jesus didn’t care! Isn’t that the way we think as we go through the storms of life? Of course it is, and it is wrong!

2. And don’t get the impression that they were waking Jesus up for help. They wanted to rebuke Him for getting them in this mess and not doing anything about it. As we are going to see it truly was a lack of faith on their part. In Isaiah 49:14-16 we read "But Zion said, ‘The LORD has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.‘Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me." God is with us even as we are going through the storms of life.


1. The choice they had, as the choice we have, is to rest in the Lord as we go through the storms of life, or to tremble in fear. God was not anxious over the situation. And notice, they went from being in the huge, furious storm, to perfect calm just like that!

VERSES 40-41

1. They were terrified of the storm, realizing they were all going to die. And Jesus rebukes them for their lack of faith, because they feared for their lives in this situation. He said they had no faith. You see, Jesus said they were going to cross OVER to the other side, not UNDER! And we must remember that fear is the opposite of faith. If you really trust in the Lord, you will not be afraid no matter what you are going through. Paul, in Philippians 4:6-7 said, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Give it to the Lord. Don’t let the storms of life give you a greater fear than the confidence you have in the Lord!

In Colossians 3:1-2 we read "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." Keep your eyes focused on the Lord, not on the situation you find yourself in.

2. The fear they now had was not terror, but a reverential fear towards God, towards Jesus.

3. Finally, the long day is over. And there were many storms that Jesus faced that day, not just the one on the Sea of Galilee. And I think He is showing us that we need to be open to Him, receive His Words into our lives. That we learn to trust in Him no matter how much the storms of life are blowing. Let me leave you with these thoughts from Psalm 107:23-31. We read "Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters, They see the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" Understand this, if the Lord is not in your ship, your sunk!