Mark 4

Are We Listening?

[Jesus] replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28

A vital part of a servant’s job is to listen and then respond to his employer’s requests. Servants who know their employers well enough to anticipate their requests are highly valued.

The Greek word for hear, akouo, is used fourteen times in Mark 4. It refers to more than hearing spoken words; it means “to attend” or “to respond” to them.* That, after all, is Jesus’ point in the familiar parable of the sower and the seed, isn’t it? True servants, whose hearts have good soil, “hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop” (v. 20).

Mark makes two other points about a servant’s listening skills in this chapter. In verse 33, Jesus “spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.” We may not be able to understand fully God’s justice or His goodness, but we can accept that He is just and good, and act upon that knowledge. Then, as our faith matures and our obedience increases, our comprehension will likewise grow. The “secret of the kingdom of God”—the spiritual truths that He wants to reveal about His purposes and plans—will become clearer (v. 11).

Mark also says that Jesus explained the meanings of His parables when “he was alone with his own disciples” (v. 34). Corporate worship services and group Bible studies play an important role in our lives. But if we want to grow in our understanding God’s truth, we will spend time alone with Him in prayer and personal Bible study. As we meditate on His words, the Holy Spirit will “guide us into all truth” (John 16:13).

We often equate servanthood with activity. Jesus emphasized attentiveness. In Mark 4:23, He says, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” In other words, His true servants, not only hear His words, but also internalize them so they can take root and produce fruit. Rooting is an unseen, solitary, lengthy process (vv. 26-28).

Jesus longs to converse with us—to reveal His heart, His values, His goals. Are we listening?


Read Mark 4:33-41. In what ways do you think the disciples’ fear in the storm was related to their inability to understand all that Jesus was trying to teach them? How do our fears affect our understanding?

To those who truly hear, God reveals the secrets, or mysteries, of the kingdom of God (Mark 4:11). What are some of these mysteries? See Romans 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Ephesians 1:9-14; Ephesians 3:3-9; Colossians 1:24-27; 1 Timothy 3:16.

Read 1 Kings 3:3-15. Young King Solomon asked for a “discerning” heart (v. 9) The Hebrew word used there, shama, literally means “hearing.”** What are the benefits of having such a heart according to verse 9? How did God respond to Solomon’s request?

Read John 14:15-26. What connections does Jesus make between loving Him and hearing Him in this passage? Why is it important for us to understand those connections?

To read a devotion on the parable of the sower, see Perseverance under Dig into Words.

 Denise K. Loock

*”Greek Lexicon :: G191 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 20 Jan, 2014.

** “Hebrew Lexicon :: H8085 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 24 Jan, 2014.

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