Mark 4:11-15

Mark 4:11 (KJB)
And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

Here Jesus states to the disciples that the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven will be given only to those whom the Lord Jesus saves but to the rest of the unbelieving world, the mysteries of that Kingdom are withheld or veiled. This is a form of election where only those who are saved are privileged to know the mysteries while the unsaved will never come to the truth of these mysteries. (2 Tim 3:7 KJV) Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.  Divine truths are considered mysteries because apart from the indwelling Holy Spirit, a person will be unable to understand them. When it speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven here, it also includes all aspects of the Gospel.  That revelation is for the believers only as we saw that the Pharisees, who were supposed to be experts in the law and the Scriptures, did not recognize Christ because He was the mystery withheld.

Mark 4:12 (KJB)
That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

Jesus gives an answer to their query from Isaiah 6:9-10. (Isa 6:9-10 KJV) And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. {10} Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Isaiah had the same type of ministry in that he was sent to a people who were spiritually blind and spiritually deaf.

Jesus had done amazing miracles from healing the sick to raising the dead right in their presence but they had rejected the works and His teachings. Since they had shown themselves to be rebellious, Jesus now spoke to them in parables. It was not because they could not hear, see, or understand since many miracles were done right in their sight but the fact was their hearts were so hardened, that they would not see, hear, or understand. It was willful rebellion which caused this situation and the more they rebelled, the harder their hearts became.

Mark 4:13 (KJB)
And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?

Jesus is then surprised at their non-understanding. He asks them if they know this parable? They should have known the elementary premise it was built upon since Israel was basically an agrarian society. Then Jesus asks them if you cannot understand this one which is so plain in understanding, then how would you be able to understand all the parables? In fact, the entire book of Proverbs is actually a book of parables. (Prov 1:6 KJV) To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. There are many parables throughout the Old Testament. For example, the potter and the clay in Jeremiah 18.

Mark 4:14 (KJB)
The sower soweth the word.

Jesus is specifically telling them that the seed which the sower went out to sow was the word of God. It is a parable of Jesus at this point bringing forth the truth of God’s word to the people who are very dull of hearing. This is also a prophecy of what the disciples will be doing and what every Christian would be doing up till the end of time. We will be sowing the word among the world who is both dull of hearing and hostile to the Gospel.

Mark 4:15 (KJB)
And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.

If you remember the wayside was a pathway which was so hard that it was like tempered brick and when the seeds fell on it, the hardness disallowed the seeds from penetrating it. It is akin to the person that hears the Gospel and because their hearts are so hardened, when they hear the Gospel it does not penetrate their heart but instead Satan steals away what has been sown because it did not penetrate. You can see this kind of person sitting in church who is more concerned with making out tomorrow’s work schedule than their own soul or someone who falls asleep in church because they are bored being there. The Gospel does not penetrate these people because they are hardened. Many world religious leaders are like that as they become more and more steeped in their false religions and become more hardened to the true Gospel every day.