In Chapter 4 of Mark, Jesus introduces a series of parables: the Parable of the Sower, the Lamp on a Stand, and Parables of the growing seeds. Parables have multiple meanings and invite meditation. One might ponder: Does Jesus’ reliance on parables (instead of, say, propositional statements) tell us anything about the nature of the truth he sought to communicate? What does the fact that so much of the sower’s seed appears to be sown for naught teach us about trusting God for the increase? Does the disciples’ incomprehension and lack of faith (as when Jesus’ calms the storm, Mark 4:35-41) fit the Parable of the Sower? Do other parables explain it better?

In Chapter 5, he gives us an extended story about Jesus’ crossing into Gentile country and casting out demons. Mark’s gospel is notorious for Jesus instructing people not to tell anyone (see Mark 8:30). This theme is sometimes referred to as “the Messianic Secret.” But here Jesus tells the healed man to tell what the Lord had done for him. Why would Jesus tell some to keep quiet and others to spread the word?

Mark frequently tells stories within stories. In Chapter 5, Jesus’ trip to heal Jairus’ daughter is interrupted. How do you think Jairus felt? Jesus’ words to his daughter are some of just a few of Jesus’ words in Aramaic recorded in the Greek New Testament (Mark 15:14 contains others). Why would these words be remembered?

In Chapter 6, Jesus sending out the 12 Disciples provides an occasion for Mark to finish telling us about the John the Baptist. Some think these sendings explain how the gospel spread so quickly.