What is the meaning of Mark 4:10-12?

Mark 4:10-4:12

:confused: :confused: :confused:

It seems like Jesus doesn’t want people to be converted and have their sins forgiven. What the heck?

I’ve often wondered about this myself.

My take on it is that people who have the ability to gain real spiritual understanding tend to think and understand things in metaphorical terms, so they would “get” the parables, while those who think they can gain salvation by following the letter of the law wouldn’t.

Thus people who didn’t have any real love of God, which then would translate into love of their fellow human being, might think, “aha, if I pray using this formula (the Our Father), give a lot of money to the poor, and give intellectual assent to a certain code of beliefs, I’ll get into Heaven when I die”, and, kids, it just doesn’t work like that.

Of course, that’s just my WAG. If you think I’m full of beans, you may be right.

So, he’s just preaching to the converted, while at the same time he makes sure that those who don’t know about God will be damned for eternity. :rolleyes:


The “converted” were precisely the people he was not preaching to. The converted would have been the Scribes and Pharisees, the chief priests in the Temple, people who definitely knew about God.

The Asbestos Mango is correct. It is a reference to the prophet Isaiah. From the Septuagint, Isaiah 6:9-10 — “You will be ever hearing, but never understanding; you will be ever seeing, but never perceiving. This people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes”. The same theme is carried forward when, in John 9:41, Jesus dresses down the Pharisees — “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” The message is intended for those who believe themselves to be pious, but who ignore his commandment to love. Think Fred Phelps.

This is an excellent question, perplexing and I’m not going to pretend I have the definitive answer, but I think it may have something to do with timing. I think the time for those individuals of the multitudes to whom he was preaching to reconcile with God had not yet come. After all, the cross and the resurection had yet to take place. The following statement by Paul may be applicable

1 Corinthians 15:19-28
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
But every man in his own order:
Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

It seems to me that Christ was planting seeds for future reconcilition and had no wish for instantaneous conversions so popular amongst fundamentalist revival conventions.

I’d like to expand a bit on what I said earlier.

It seems to me that a lot of hardcore Fund’ist religious types (my experience is predominantly with Christians, so I’ll confine my discussion to them) have a real aversion to symbolism. Their literalistic interpretation of obviously symbolic Biblical texts such as the book of Revelations evidences this, as well as their denigration of icons and statuary used by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. (Yet, they dismiss the Bread of Life discourse as being symbolic, ironic but a discussion for another thread)

I consider these types to be the modern equivalents of the Pharisees. Their hard, codified approach to religion, following “the letter of the Law”, if you will, either is a result of their inability to understand symbolism or a cause of it, not sure which, YMMV.

Anyway, the parables are spoken in symbolic language, which it takes particular kind of mindset to understand, and that would be the kind of mind that would be inclined to seek God or reach for spiritual things, and generally also the mindset that leads one to love of fellow human being.

And as for the Apostles (whom Fr. Francis refers to as “the twelve bums”) asking for interpretations…

I guess it just takes some folks longer than others to catch on, and Jesus saw the potential if not the actuality.

I always had a slightly different take on parables. Just an opinion:

When people are enlightened spiritually, they have no need of metaphor or parable. They know – not in a scientific sense, but in a more comprehensive and sublime intuitive and spiritual sense. And what they know is the Peace that passeth understanding.

There are others who need help in understanding on a different level. For them, the parables are ways of illustrating the teachings so that concepts of love, sacrifice, preparedness, patience, forgiveness can be understood and remembered.

It is my own belief that there are other parts of the Bible which are not called parables, but which are also stories told to help us understand basic concepts. Some believe that these stories are similar to parables and others believe that they are literally history. Those that believe in the literal truth or history tend to belief in following a lot of rules and regulations – some more than others. Those that believe that these stories are like fables believe more in the principles that are taught as a whole rather than in a strict interpretation of any one rule or law.

People in the last group, for example, might not be so concerned about avoiding cutting their hair or in avoiding eating shellfish. They would focus more on acts of kindness, forgiveness, non-judgment, and “fruits of the spirit.”

There are also people who don’t fit neatly into one group or the other.

It is my guess that Jesus would not have wanted for people to convert for the wrong reasons. (I’m not certain what would have been considered “wrong.”)

All of this is a very unscholarly approach. And by “levels,” I don’t mean to imply that one level is higher than another or that there are only two levels.