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Bible: What Does Mark 4-5 Teach Us About Jesus' Parables and Power?

Updated on September 9, 2016

Parable of the Sower

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Parables of Jesus

The first part of chapter four records “The Parable of the Sower” and its explanation (vv. 1-20).


[See Matthew’s gospel for detailed commentary.]

Mark inserts two short teachings—one regarding the importance of not hiding the lamp under a basket [vv. 21-23], and the other about the importance of being obedient to what one hears if one desires to receive more light (vv. 24-25).

[Both sayings remind one of Sermon on the Mount content (cf. Matt. 5:15; 7:2). Verse 25, however, resembles Matthew 13:12.]

“The Parable of the Growing Seed” (vv. 26-29) does not appear in Matthew’s gospel.

Jesus compares the growth of the kingdom of God to the mysterious development that occurs after a farmer scatters seed, listing the plant’s progress from blade to harvest (vv. 26-29).

Mark then relates “The Parable of the Mustard Seed” and Jesus’ use of parables, both of which agree substantially with Matthew’s account (vv. 30-34).

[Matthew, however, inserts Scripture indicating that the Lord’s use of parables fulfills prophecy (cf. 13:35.]

Both parables picture the tremendous growth of the Church from small beginnings.]

Calming the Sea of Galilee

After a long day of ministry, Jesus is weary to the point of exhaustion.

He directs the disciples to set sail for the other side of the lake while He, already in a boat, takes a nap (v. 35).

The enigmatic clause—“they took Him along in the boat as He was”—suggests either that He was already asleep or that He was not dressed for sailing (v. 36).

What significance does having “other little boats with Him” have?

Mark is the only writer who observes that Jesus is asleep on a pillow (v. 38).

His composure and reassurance of being safe in the midst of the storm is breathtaking.

[Matthew’s commentary gives the gist of the rest of the story (8: 23-27).]

The Land of the Gadarenes

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The Name of the Demon


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Jesus: The All-Powerful

Mark 5

In the country of the Gadarenes, Jesus encounters a demonized man (vv. 1-2).

[Matthew records that two demoniacs met Him; however, without a doubt one became their spokesman.]

Mark adds several details about this man’s condition that Matthew omits.

First, the demoniac dwells among the tombs (v. 3); second, he cannot be chained successfully (showing the demons’ incredible strength) [vv. 3b-4]; and third, he cries out continuously and cuts himself with stones, indicating that he is miserably self-destructive [v. 5].

That the demoniac bowed down to Jesus indicates intense agony, not worship (as NKJV suggests); Jesus had been commanding the demons to exit the man’s body—an expulsion that would have been unbearable for them (vv. 6-8).

[The NASB’s nuances speak to the text much better than does the NKJV’s “uninspired” translation.]

Only Mark records the following details:

(1) the name of the demons (Legion) [v. 9];

(2) the number of swine drowned (two thousand) [v. 13];

(3) the Gadarenes’ witness (“saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind”) [v. 15]; and

(4) Jesus’ response to the one-time demoniac’s plea (“Go home to your friends . . .”) [v. 19]

In obedience, the man bears witness of Jesus’ compassion in Decapolis (v. 20).

[Did Decapolis constitute the man’s friends?

In addition, textual clues hinting at the Lord’s identity—the Lord is Jesus (vv. 19-20)—occur not infrequently (cf. John 8:32, 36; Rom. 9:5).]

Jesus Heals the Woman with the Flow of Blood

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The Raising of Jairus' Daughter

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Jesus, the Healer

Having completed His mission to the Gadarenes, Jesus sails across “to the other side” of the Sea where crowds swamp Him again (v. 31).

The throng then accompanies Him to Jairus’ home—the site of the Lord’s next miracle: the raising from death of this synagogue ruler’s young daughter (vv. 22-24).

While on the way, Christ encounters a woman who has received medical treatment for a chronic, incessant “flow of blood” that has not only cost her her life’s savings and much suffering at the hands of physicians, but has even worsened her condition (vv. 25-26).

Weak and embarrassed (perhaps), she merely touches His garment as she follows with the crowd, believing in His power to heal (vv. 27-28).

Mark’s penchant for the word “immediately” harmonizes perfectly here as he records how both sensations— the woman’s healing (v. 29) and Christ’s perception of a change (v. 30)—happen.

The Lord’s seemingly silly question—“Who touched My clothes?”—understandably elicits an incredulous response from His disciples (vv. 30b-31).

Yet, what seems to be the case oftentimes fools those unaware of the actual circumstances.

So intent is Jesus on locating the believer in the crowd that He does not find it necessary to give an immediate accounting of His internal feeling (v. 32).

[Luke, the physician, notes it, but Mark does not; cf. Lk. 8:46.]

Now the woman approaches, full of reverence for her Benefactor, and openly tells her story (v. 33).

Jesus declares that her belief in Him as Healer has made her recovery possible (v. 34; cf. Ryrie, New Testament Study Bible, 75).

Peter, James and John

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Age of Jairus' Daughter


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Jairus' Daughter Raised

At this point someone enters the scene, announces the young daughter’s death, and opines regarding the necessity for the “Teacher’s” services (v. 35).

Stemming the flood of emotion immediately, Christ admonishes the ruler, “Do not be afraid any longer; keep believing in what God can do” (v. 36).

[Note the “enemy” that Jesus constantly counters: fear.

More a reverence than a guilty fear, the woman’s emotion Christ quelled with “Go in peace.”

The elder’s fear seems anxiety-ridden, and his faith appears weaker than the woman’s.]

Jesus permits only His “inner circle” (Peter, James, and John) to accompany Him into the official’s home—now a place of over-the-top wailing (vv. 37-38).

Again, something the Lord says—“The child is not dead, but sleeping”—elicits an understandably incredulous reaction from His audience (vv. 39-40a; cf. 5:31).

Not allowing their ridicule to deter Him, He authoritatively puts them all outside, allowing only the girl’s parents and the three disciples to witness the miracle (v. 40).

Very gently, Jesus calls the twelve year-old back to life, causing no little wonder (vv. 41-42).

After allowing them a space to enjoy the event, Christ commands them to keep the matter quiet—how would they be able to do that? —and feed their daughter (v. 43).

[He knew exactly what she needed, and cared even for this small, but important detail.]

© 2014 glynch1

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