The lion of St Mark

THE GOSPEL OF MARK

Chapter 4: Overview

If we look at this chapter overall, the arrangement is straightforward: we have a series of parables (4,1-34) to which the story of the calming of the storm has been added (4,35-41).

We can begin by noting how the evangelist opens and closes the discourse, 4,1-2 and 4,34-35. What is the effect of this?

What we need to do now is to see whether there is any special arrangement of this teaching in parables. We have already seen that there are special arrangements in 2,1-3-6 and 3,20-35. Maybe we can look for something similar here.

We have been told that Jesus likes to speak in parables (3,23), as he repeats here in this chapter (4,2.11.33). We can say that a parable is a story taken from real life which points towards a deeper meaning. That is made explicit in 4,26 and 4,30; it is implicit in 4,3 (see 1,15).

We have therefore three farming parables, one at the beginning and two at the end. Can you find any links between them?

What then forms the middle part of the series? Look closely at what is present in verses 11,13,21 and 24 but not in verses 26 and 30.

Using that as a clue, how then can we further divide the middle portion? Above all, what part of Jesus' teaching becomes the centre of this teaching on parables?

It is now time for my response.

Reading Plan

From this exploration, we can read the chapter with the following pages:

4,1-9:The Parable of sowing the seed
4,10-25: Explanation of the Parables
4,26-33: Two Parables of the seed growing.
4,35-41:The calming of the storm

We are now ready to being our reading with the first parable, Mk 4,1-9, the sowing of the seed.