1. Mark 4:11 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

Will those outside only receive parables from Jesus?

Mark 4:11 (ESV)

11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables,

This clause is also often applied directly to speaking in parables, as though Jesus were saying, “The outsiders will receive only parables from me.” But this does not work. Until his death, Jesus constantly spoke directly and not in images to the people and its leaders. Besides, verse 11b does not deal with what is said, but about what is happening (γίνεται). For outsiders everything happens in parables. This makes us think of everything that happens in Jesus’ time: great miracles and signs, many are healed, teaching with authority. All of this portrays the mystery of God to the world: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” But the mystery is understood only by the disciples, to whom it is given. It remains a mere statement to others. They cannot understand it. For many it remains figurative language. They don’t perceive its tenor, even though they observe all that happens. Although they see and hear Jesus’ work, it seems like riddles to them. Jesus adapts his speaking to that reality. Even his words now become figurative. Now people can discover that to understand Jesus it is necessary to penetrate to the deeper and intended meaning, not only of the words (parables), but of all that takes place. Now when Jesus speaks to the crowds in parables, it is not merely a small part of his action that becomes figurative. On the contrary, everything has now become figurative and denotes something different.1