And let the parables commence in Mark 4: 1-9.
I am definitely starting to notice a pattern with the way Mark has written this gospel. Almost everything for the first three chapters dealt directly with the authority Jesus possessed. Whether it be the authority to speak about scripture, the authority to heal the sick, or the authority to forgive sins. Now, and quite suddenly, we get a glimpse into his teachings, which up until this point have been mentioned but not expounded upon except in the case of Beelzebub where it tells us that he spoke in parables.
I think that Mark has listed everything he can remember about the authority of Jesus, and is now letting us into the second aspect of Jesus’ life, his teaching methods, and messages. It should be noted that parables by their very nature are not literal accounts, but rhetorical tools used to convey truths outside the realm of the listener’s experience by using imagery and events that they are familiar with. Now, let us learn at the feet of Jesus.
Jesus is in a boat, and Mark mentions that he teaches many things using parables. The examples he gives are probably what he can remember, or the best of what he can remember. Where he begins is important not necessarily because of the story, but because of what comes after, so for now let’s look at the parable at face value, then next time we can learn what Jesus says it’s about.
So, some learning. The scene of a sower going out to sow would have been extremely common. Sowing would occur in late fall or early winter in the rainy season and sprouting would be expected in April or May with a June harvest. The rocky ground would be the limestone base that underlies almost all of Palestine, just beneath the soil. The thorns mentioned would refer to a specific thorny weed native to the area which could grow up to six feet in height and have a major root system.
Now, all of this gives you a better understanding of what those listening to Jesus would have associated with his words. In this unique case, because Jesus explains exactly what he means in the next section, I see no reason to contemplate what it could mean. I hope to return next time to find out what Jesus meant by this.