One of the beautiful things we see in Mark is just how amazing of a teacher Jesus really is. We see a glimpse of this in Mark 4.
Mark 4:33-34 says:
"And with many such parables He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it. But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples."
Mark has shown us the full scope of Jesus’ method of teaching: (1) a parable is told; (2) its purpose is stated; (3) its meaning is explained; and (4) its principles are advanced. One element is missing. Mark tells us that Jesus taught by parables and spoke the Word to the people, “as they were able to hear it” (verse 33). A master teacher is always sensitive to the level of the learner. Inexperienced teachers tend to be just the opposite. They expect all students to rise to the level of their learning. But that’s not what we see here with Jesus.
Jesus had to have patience to adjust His teaching to the level of His hearers. Imagine for a moment a mind filled with revealed truth that needs to be shared with all of mankind. Now add to that knowledge, he also has very little time. Urgency would most likely seem to dictate a spilling out of high-level truth with the expectation that the disciples would catch up after He is gone. Jesus rejects that option.
Jesus begins at the level of His students, He patiently takes them one step at a time, and when alone with His disciples, He continues to explain the parables in detail. Following His own principles, He lets truth mature like the Parable of the Growing Seed: “… first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain …” (verse 28). As Saint Augustine said, “Patience is the companion of wisdom.” With that patience, Jesus adds pacing in His teaching. Students come to a “golden moment” when they are ready to learn.
Jesus knows when His students are ready to learn. Several times, His impatience gets ahead of Him as He exclaims, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you?” (Mark 9:19), but He always recovers the patience to go back over the lesson until they come to the “golden moment” when all their learning converges in a moment of truth.
Mark uses the words “as they were able to hear it” (verse 33) to indicate the readiness of the disciples for learning. The word “hear” is the same word that Jesus has used several times in the parables. In each case, it means to receive the seed of the gospel so that it might take root, sprout, grow, and produce a harvest. Jesus, the Master Teacher, paces His lessons to the rhythm of readiness in His disciples. When they are ready to learn, He sows the seed and then gives it time to grow and harvest before starting another season of teaching and learning.
Mark’s case for Jesus, the Master Teacher, is now complete. With his typical precision of argument, he has recorded the “Who?” “What?” “When?” “Where?” “How?” and “Why?” of Jesus’ teaching. The “Who?” is Jesus; The “What?” is the principle of growth for the kingdom of God; The “Where?” is the seaside; The “When?” is the disciples’ readiness to learn; The “How?” is teaching by parables; and The “Why?” is the preparation of the disciples for their continuing ministry. Only Jesus can teach such truth in such a masterful way.
I encourage you, as we continue to dive into Gods’ word, don’t rush through each chapter. Rather, truly dwell in them. Take time to pause, listen, and allow the Holy Spirit to speak new truths to you. The Master teacher is in this book. He will meet you where you are just as He did with His own disciples. In moments of feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, write it down, ask questions to your Life Group and allow God’s word to fully develop within you. The Master teacher is ready to take you deeper and bring you closer, the question is, are you ready and willing to learn?