Today in Mark 4:21-34, we are going to look at three parables of Jesus.
A Lamp under a Bushel Basket
21 He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? 22 For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. 23 Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. 25 For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”
The Parable of the Growing Seed
26 He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
The Use of Parables
33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples
First, we have the Lamp under a bushel basket. Ok, a couple of things here. With parables, you have to remember that this is not to be taken “literally.” What I mean is this is an illustration or a story. It’s true, and it illustrates truth, but Jesus is trying to communicate something deeper here. So, for instance, in the Gospels, light is often seen as a symbol for truth or for Jesus Himself.
So, in this parable, we’ve been given truth. And we can’t hide that truth. Truth will come out. What is done is secret, God knows. But this measure of what we’ve been given is talking about the truth we’ve been given. The “light.” So, the more we respond to the truth, the more we search the scriptures, the more we seek God, the more we desire Him, the more of Him we will we know and will receive. Likewise, the less we seek, the less we search, the less of Him we will know.
Today, we’ve been shown light. And keeping with the theme of the parables, our response to that light will determine how much more light we receive.
The second parable we hear today is the parable of the growing seed. In this, the kingdom of God is the seed. It is planted but notice, it doesn’t grow because of the work of man, but it grows because of the Will of God. We look up and marvel at what God has done and wonder to ourselves, how did that happen? And the answer is God. It happened because God was the one that was at work. It wasn’t our will or our efforts that made it happen, it was God’s.
Remember, that God is the one that does the work. Never mistake our faithfulness for God’s work. God is the one at work. We along aside beside Him. But He is the instigator, He is the sustainer, He is the one that makes it happen. And we look out and wonder, how that happen? God. That’s how.
And our last parable today is mustard seed. This is the one that we are most familiar with of these three parables. The kingdom of God is like that mustard seed. It’s small. But when it grows roots, it changes everything. The Gospel is not complicated. It’s just hard to understand. I heard someone put it like this. The love of God is so simple that a child can understand it, but some complicated the greatest theologian can’t fathom it.
All of these parables, what is the emphasis upon? The Kingdom. The work and will of God. He plants it, He grows it, He sustains it, we marvel at it. Our job is to be receptive. To do our part. To listen, to receive, to obey, and to fan the flame that God puts within us.
Let’s be faithful. But let’s know that it is God that is work within us.
Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 4:35-41.
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