Charlie and Ricky both worked on the line at Mr. Foreman's factory. Both had been hired the same week, and both had basically the same background and education. Mr. Foreman had a habit of walking around the factory every day and noticed that the two men seemed to be as different as similar men could be. Ricky seemed to be always learning things and becoming more efficient. Charlie kept doing things the same way. Even the things he grumbled about were predictably the same. Whenever Mr. Foreman would suggest a new way to do something, Ricky's eyes would light up and he would ask questions to understand the new process and implement it for maximum effect. Charlie, on the other hand, would grumble as soon as Mr. Foreman left about always being fussed at and whine that if he ever understood the instructions perhaps the advice would do him some good. One day Ricky heard Charlie complaining and tried to help him out. He suggested that Mr. Foreman always seemed ready to answer questions and that each piece of advice seemed to build on the last, so it was important to implement one before you could understand the next. But it only gave Charlie something new to grumble about - Ricky's luck. You can probably predict Ricky and Charlie's futures. In five years, Ricky was Mr. Foreman's right-hand man. Whenever Mr. Foreman was out of town or in meetings, it was Ricky who walked the line and tried to help the workers. But Charlie was out of work. He'd finally talked himself into quitting because of the insufferable conditions - constant advice, others getting promoted over him, etc. - and he hadn't found steady work since. In Mark 4:10-13 we learn that a person's response to Jesus' parables reveals whether they are more like Ricky or Charlie spiritually. Study the passage to discover what parables are, why Jesus used them, and how to understand them.
Ask the Lord for wisdom as you read and study His Word. He loves to answer that prayer when it is made in humility and faith.
Read Focus Verses
Read Mark 4:10-13 and notice what the theme of these three verses is.
What repeated word reveals the theme of today's passage?
Keyword - Parable
Marking the word parable will help it stand out as the theme of these verses.
Mark the word parable every time it appears in Mark 4:10-13.
The context of these verses helps us understand more about them. Read Mark 4:1-34 and notice the parables in these surrounding verses.
To whom did Jesus speak in parables?
To whom did Jesus explain the parables?
When does verse 10 say the disciples asked Jesus a question?
What was their question?
What does Jesus say about the disciples in the first part of verse 11?
Who does Jesus say He primarily used parables because of?
What does Jesus say about seeing and hearing in the first part of verse 12?
In the second part of verse 12, what does Jesus say is the result of really understanding what the parables mean?
What does Jesus say in verse 13?
What does it say about Jesus that He was comparatively alone when it was just the twelve and a small group of others?
What Is a Parable?
Take a closer look at the word Jesus uses which is translated parable.
Origin: from (3846)
- a placing of one thing by the side of another, juxtaposition, as of ships in battle
- a comparing, comparison of one thing with another, likeness, similitude
- an example by which a doctrine or precept is illustrated
- a narrative, fictitious but agreeable to the laws and usages of human life, by which either the duties of men or the things of God, particularly the nature and history of God's kingdom are figuratively portrayed
- a parable: an earthly story with a heavenly meaning
- a pithy and instructive saying, involving some likeness or comparison and having preceptive or admonitory force
- an aphorism, a maxim
- a proverb
- an act by which one exposes himself or his possessions to danger, a venture, a risk
You already read a few of Jesus' parables when you read the context of today's verses. Read the parable in Mark 12:1-12 keeping in mind the other parables you read and the usage of the word parable.
Here is the heart of the definition of parables given in Vine's Expository Dictionary: Denotes "a placing beside"...It signifies "a placing of one thing beside another" with a view to comparison...It is generally used of a somewhat lengthy utterance or narrative drawn from nature or human circumstances, the object of which is to set forth a spiritual lesson...sometimes it is used of a short saying or proverb. It is the lesson that is of value; the hearer must catch the analogy if he is to be instructed.Click To Visit Website
How would you describe what a parable is in one sentence?
Now that we know what a parable is, let's explore why Jesus used them. Matthew 13:10-17 gives us more detail from Jesus' answer than is given today's passage.
Jesus' answer teaches us that there is a dual purpose in parables. How do unbelievers respond to parables (Mark 4:11b-12)?
How do believers respond to parables (Mark 4:11a, 13)?
To explain why He used parables to keep those who did not want to believe from understanding, Jesus quotes God's commission to Isaiah in Isaiah 6:8-10.
Clear but Rejected
Romans 1:18-25 shows us the unbeliever's response even to more obvious truth.
2 Peter 3:1-7 also speaks of this willing ignorance.
What do these verses teach us about how plain God has made some basic truths?
These are Evident
What are some of the truths these verses tell us are so plain anyone who wants to know will understand them?
What do these verses teach us about those who do not believe these things?
If you offered someone ten dollars and they refused, would you offer them a hundred dollars then? How does that analogy help us understand what Jesus is saying?
If You Don't Understand This…
Jesus' response to Nicodemus in John 3:12 can also help us understand why when someone rejects clear truth they are not always given more.
To Those Who Have
In Matthew 25:13-30 Jesus tells us a parable explaining the principle He gives that more is given to those who receive and use what they are given.
Receiving or Rejecting
How does this parable help us understand what Jesus means when He says more will be given to those who have?
To Be Understood
Jesus' response also reveals that His parables were to be understood by those who believed. The Gospels frequently record Jesus explaining the parables to His disciples. In John 14:26 Jesus tells us who will do this now that He isn't physically with us anymore.
1 Corinthians 2:7-10 also speaks of this.
Who teaches Christians to understand God's Word now?
Tips for Study
This article provides tips for understanding parables biblically.Click To Visit Website
Ears to Hear
In Mark 4:9 Jesus tells us what kind of person will benefit from His parables.
He repeats this frequent phrase of His again later in the chapter in Mark 4:23-25 along with the warning about making use of what we have.
To the Churches
In Revelation 3:22 we see Jesus saying it a seventh time in the messages to the churches.
Look more closely at the word translated hear.
Origin: a root
- to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf
- to hear
- to attend to, consider what is or has been said
- to understand, perceive the sense of what is said
- to hear something
- to perceive by the ear what is announced in one's presence
- to get by hearing learn
- a thing comes to one's ears, to find out, learn
- to give ear to a teaching or a teacher
- to comprehend, to understand
What does Jesus mean when He calls those listening to His words to hear Him?
Casual or Real?
We see the differences between casual listeners and true hearers in Matthew 7:24-27.
Hearers and Doers
James 1:22-25 is even clearer.
It Will Show
According to these verses, how can we tell if we are truly hearers of Christ's Words?
Many Desired It
Read Matthew 13:16-17 again to be reminded of the privilege we have.
Seeing them Afar Off
Hebrews 11:13 tells us that all the Old Testament figures of faith we are told to honor and follow only got to look forward to the coming of Christ instead of knowing Him like we can.
For Our Sake
At the end of the chapter in Hebrews 11:39-40 we see that they had to wait for our sakes.
1 Peter 1:10-12 tells us how diligently they searched what little they knew.
If they were so eager and so diligent about what little they knew of what was to come, how much more diligently should their example inspire us to study and rejoice in the fullness of the gospel as we know it today?
The verses following the three you just read in 1 Peter tell us how we should respond to the fuller truth we know. Consider what 1 Peter 1:13-23 says about this.
How should we live in light of all we have the privilege to know?
The Core of It
According to these verses in 1 Peter, what is at the heart of these wonderful things God has revealed to us, which the believers through all ages have been looking toward?
An Extra Blessing
Perhaps sometimes it seems like it would be nicer to live when Jesus was here explaining everything Himself in audible words. But in John 20:29 Jesus gives an extra blessing to those who believe without seeing Him in person.
What does John 20:29 promise today's believers?
Read Mark 4:10-13 once more in light of everything you've studied in God's Word.
In summary, what are parables?
Why did Jesus use parables (remember He speaks of two groups - believers and unbelievers)?
How can Christians understand Jesus' parables?
Take a few minutes and thank God for allowing you to know Jesus Christ and read His parables in His Word as so many faithful believers desired to do for centuries and couldn't. How will that truth change the way you think about and prioritize time with God's Word today?
To the One Who Has
As you saw today, God will give more understanding to those who will do what they know. Are you demanding more understanding before you obey something you know from God's Word? How will you begin obeying today
Hearing and Doing
What is your favorite of the parables you read today? Will you be someone who will hear it today by being a doer of what Jesus teaches through it? What action do you need to take today based on that parable?
We hope this study plan has helped you understand what parables are, why Jesus used them, and how to understand them; and we hope that it has challenged you to act on what you know in gratitude for the privilege of understanding God's Word and expecting to learn more as you obey.
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