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Study of Mark: Mark 4:21-34 March 31, 2010

Posted by Warren in The Gospel of Mark.
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And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand?For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth,yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.
(Mark 4:21-34 ESV)

We’re continuing with Christ teaching his disciples through parables.

The first is that of a lamp, or candlestick. If you want to illuminate a room, do you hide it, or place it on a stand? Obviously, you place it on a stand. Christ’s teachings to the disciples, though, were often under a basket — he taught them secretly about many things. His point to this particular parable, I think, is that His mission was to 1. give Himself a sacrifice for us all, but 2. to train his disciples to spread the Good News of His kingdom. His teachings weren’t for everyone — that’s why he taught so often in parables. His mission could only be understood in the context of Calvary — before that time, people wouldn’t be able to understand what He was doing.

The second teaching really is not a parable — in fact, it’s an explanation to the parable of the talents. When God gives us much, He expects much from us. Christ is preparing the disciples for their roles in spreading the Gospel to the world. They have been given much — more than any other men in the world, for who can say that they learned at the feet of Jesus? Much will be required — their very lives, ultimately.

Christ then makes another allusion to planting and harvesting, but to make a different point. We sow the seed of the Gospel. After we sow, we see results. We don’t know why people are responding the way they are, and we don’t know why other people aren’t responding. it isn’t for us to know. We accept that God is sovereign, and that His plan is in place. We rejoice that we have a harvest, not that we didn’t get as many plants as we thought we would.

We then see the kingdom of God compared to a mustard seed. WHen planted, it seems small and insignificant — much like our efforts in sharing the Gospel. But when the plant matures, it can grow into a huge tree. We never know who we have influenced by our faithful proclaiming of the Gospel. We cannot stop doing it simply because we see no big results right away. We may never know what lives we have touched, so we must continue to be faithful in our work, trusting that God will grant the increase.

Parables are tough to study, because of the simple fact that they are not always clear in what they are saying. Hopefully, I have been able to faithfully explain some of these parables of Christ. I look forward to hearing from others, who have their own ideas.

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