From Jesus’s first moments of public ministry, he has endeavored to declare the gospel of the kingdom of God. Yet, his preference was to upset any and all prevailing notions about how this kingdom would come to be and what its founder, the Messiah, would do to establish it. The disciples are certainly confused in this moment. But Jesus speaks into their confusion by relaying two striking parables about the unexpected operation of his kingdom that was right in front of them.
The Gospel of Mark is a “no holds barred” sort of Gospel. Its matter-of-fact presentation of Jesus’s actions confront all of our preconceived notions as to what the promised Messiah is supposed to come and do and say. Whereas many fancied the Messiah sauntering into Rome on horseback with sword drawn, instead, he is sitting and dining with outcasts and sinners. Jesus continues his trend towards unexpectedness in Mark 4, as he relays the hallmark parable in all of his teachings.