Three Proverbial Sayings: Mark 4:21-25

A Lamp on a Stand

21 He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”

24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

The Parable of the Growing Seed

26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

Mark 4:21-29 (NIV)

31st March 2023, Paphos, Cyprus

It’s difficult to know how best to describe these verses. They are essentially three short parables (i) although many commentators  describe them as a series of ‘sayings’. I l think that ‘proverbial sayings’ is a good description (ii). They are important enough to appear in very similar form in all of the synoptic gospels. In common with Luke’s gospel, these sayings appear here as a group together, whilst in Matthew they appear separately. Some commentators believe that they are best presented and read as a group, as here in Mark, whilst others prefer to deal with them individually, as they are presented in Matthew.

NT Wright suggests that each of these sayings are individually important.

‘Here we have three sayings, each with its own warning for life.’ (iii)

Each one contains a message which is really important for us. is incredibly important. I’ve decided to deal with each of them individually.


(i) RC Sproul, Mark, An Expositional Commentary, p72
(ii) JC Ryle: Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Mark, p51
(iii)NT Wright, New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel According to Luke, p120

Richard Jackson, West Sussex: LifePictureUK

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