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What does Mark 4:21-25 mean?

Weekly Q&A

What does Mark 4:21-25 mean?
Posted on November 9, 2021  - By Rufus Simon Varghese

What does Mark 4:21-25 mean—generally and in the context of the Gospel according to Mark?

As we read the parable in verses 21-22, we need to understand a few things: 

  1. These verses come right after Jesus had interpreted the parable of the sower. 
  2. The audience in this passage is the disciples.
  3. The larger crowd didn’t listen to the meaning of the parable. 
  4. Jesus indicated in verses 11-12 that the parable was a judgment on the larger crowd—those who would reject the Messiah.
  5. This parable closes with the same statement Jesus made in verse 9 at the end of the parable of the sower. This is a warning to anyone willing to listen.

The plain meaning

Before electricity, a lamp was used the way we use a tube light or a bulb. It would be kept in an open place, on a stand, so that light would be available to everyone. Keeping it under a basket or a bed would defeat its purpose. When light is not blocked, it also helps us see other things in the same space.

The contextual meaning

Every person’s attitude towards Jesus Christ will be made visible

The parable in verses 21-22 must be understood in the context of the parable of the sower—and its explanation. In it, we find one saving response and three other responses to the sowing of the word.

Jesus meant to indicate that every response to the gospel of the kingdom of God will be brought to light. None of it will be hidden. In other words, every person’s attitude towards Jesus Christ will be made visible.

A gospel warning

Jesus spoke another parable in verses 24-25 to those keen to know the meaning of the parable of the sower—specifically, the 12 disciples and a few others. He told them to listen, understand, and respond rightly to the message they had heard.

If the intention of their heart was to know about the gospel of Jesus Christ and submit to Him, they would be rewarded accordingly and given further clarity of the truth. On the contrary, if their intentions weren’t genuine, the true understanding of whatever they had listened to would be taken away. Given the record of many disciples who stopped following Jesus (John 6:60-71) and the betrayal by Judas (Matthew 26:47-50), we know that this eventually took place.

The latter parable offers us at least two practical reminders:

  1. Whatever means we use to seek Jesus and the truth of the gospel (books, debates, internet, etc.), we must check our intentions. Are we approaching Him with a mindset to accept the truth about Him in an unbiased manner? If so, God will reward us with further resources to facilitate our growing faith. But if someone masquerades as a seeker, whatever means he had will also be removed from him.
  2. Those of us born into Christian families are exposed to the call of the gospel time and again. But if we continue to ignore repentance, there will come a time in our lives where we cannot believe.

Rufus Simon Varghese

About Rufus Simon Varghese

Born and raised in Dubai, UAE, Rufus completed his Masters in Theology at Asian Christian Academy in Hosur, India. He has since been involved in personal outreach ministries and teaching youngsters Scripture. Currently based in Ernakulam, India, he is teaching at a Bible school as well as ministering to the Hindi-speaking immigrant working population in Kerala.



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