Mark 4:12
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.
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(12) That seeing they may see. . . .—St. Mark characteristically gives the words of Isaiah 6:9, but not as a quotation, and perhaps in a less accurate form, and omits the addition in Matthew, “Blessed are your ears . . .” The form in this instance, at first sight, suggests the thought that our Lord’s purpose was to produce the blindness and deafness of which He speaks. The real meaning of the words is, however, plain. This was to be the result of the wilful blindness of those who rejected Him; and the acceptance of a foreseen result was, in Hebrew forms of thought, expressed as the working out of an intention. (See Notes on Matthew 13:14-15.)

4:1-20 This parable contained instruction so important, that all capable of hearing were bound to attend to it. There are many things we are concerned to know; and if we understand not the plain truths of the gospel, how shall we learn those more difficult! It will help us to value the privileges we enjoy as disciples of Christ, if we seriously consider the deplorable state of all who have not such privileges. In the great field of the church, the word of God is dispensed to all. Of the many that hear the word of the gospel, but few receive it, so as to bring forth fruit. Many are much affected with the word for the present, who yet receive no abiding benefit. The word does not leave abiding impressions upon the minds of men, because their hearts are not duly disposed to receive it. The devil is very busy about careless hearers, as the fowls of the air go about the seed that lies above ground. Many continue in a barren, false profession, and go down to hell. Impressions that are not deep, will not last. Many do not mind heart-work, without which religion is nothing. Others are hindered from profiting by the word of God, by abundance of the world. And those who have but little of the world, may yet be ruined by indulging the body. God expects and requires fruit from those who enjoy the gospel, a temper of mind and Christian graces daily exercised, Christian duties duly performed. Let us look to the Lord, that by his new-creating grace our hearts may become good ground, and that the good seed of the word may produce in our lives those good words and works which are through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God the Father.See the notes at Matthew 13:10-17. On Mark 4:12, see the notes at John 12:39-40.

When he was alone - That is, separate from the multitude. When he withdrew from the multitude a few followed him for the purpose of more instruction.

11, 12. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them, &c.—See on [1424]Mt 13:10-17. See Poole on "Mark 4:3"

That seeing they may see,.... Which the end and reason of his speaking to them in parables. The passage referred to is in Isaiah 6:9. See Gill on Matthew 13:14. See Gill on Matthew 13:15. 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.
Mark 4:12 seems to state the aim of the parabolic method of teaching as being to keep the people in the dark, and prevent them from being converted and forgiven. This cannot really have been the aim of Jesus. Vide notes on the parable of the Sower in Mt., where the statement is softened somewhat.

12. that seeing they may see, and not perceive] At the beginning of His ministry our Lord did not teach by Parables. “The Sermon on the Mount may be taken as the type of the ‘words of grace’ which He spake ‘not as the Scribes.’ Beatitudes, laws, promises were uttered distinctly, not indeed without similitudes, but with similitudes that explained themselves.” And so He continued for some time. But His direct teaching was met with scorn, unbelief, and hardness. From this time forward “parables” entered largely into His recorded teaching, and were at once attractive and penal. (a) Attractive, as “instruments of education for those who were children in age or character,” and offering in a striking form much for the memory to retain, and for the docile and truth-loving to learn; (b) Penal, as testing the disposition of those who listened to them; withdrawing the light from such as loved darkness and were wilfully blind, and protecting the truth from the mockery of the scoffer; finding out the fit hearers, and leading them, but them only, on to deeper knowledge. See Article on Parables in Smith’s Bible Dict.

Mark 4:12. Ἵνα, that) They already before saw not, Matthew 13:13. Now there is added [to their voluntary blindness] divinely—sent judicial blindness.—ἵνα, so that: LXX. Genesis 22:14.—καὶ ἀφεθήσεται αὐτοῖς τὰ ἁμαρτήματα, and their sins should be forgiven them) This is the true healing, spoken of Matthew 13:15; Psalm 103:3.

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