Thursday, January 5, 2017

Various Parables

Mark 4:21-34

“And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?  For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.  If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:21-23)

Jesus had just explained to his disciples that the parables were given to make the gospel available to anyone, but that only those who were interested enough to learn more would be saved.  Now he uses another story to help understand what he means.    When one places a candle on the floor results in only a very small area being lighted, but by raising it up higher, a much larger area is illuminated, and far more is visible, even though the candle gives off the same amount of light.  In a similar way.   The gospel has far more impact and reveals far more when it is publicly declared than when it is kept within the boundaries of the church or home, even though they are not doing any greater activities.   He advises that we need to listen to the message here.  Instead of making bigger efforts to do more, Christians need to serve the Lord publicly just as they do in church.  We need to listen to what Jesus was teaching. 

“And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.  For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” (Mark 4:24-25)

 When we judge others, we need to make sure that the problem is not in fact ours rather than theirs.   Matthew 7:1-5 warns, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.”  We need to realize we can’t use other people’s sin as a smokescreen to hide our own. 
God will judge every person according to his own actions,    I Corinthians 3:13-15 tells us, “Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

“And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.  But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” (Mark 4:26-29)

Jesus said the growth of Christianity is like planting seeds.  Though one can water it and apply fertilizer, he has little control whether it grows, but must accept what happens.  The seed sprouts and produces the sprout, then the flowers, and finally the fruit of its own accord, with little input from the farmer.  When the crop is ripe he harvests it as if it was all the result of his labor.  Similarly, while we can plant the seed, and may reap the harvest, the production is the result of God’s work rather than our own,  As John 6:44 says, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”  We need to remember it is God who produces the results, not us. 
“And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.” (Mark 4:30-32)

The last parable mentioned here again reiterates the idea tha the results are what God produces.  He can take one of the tiniest seeds and turn it into a huge tree that has an impact on a vast area, but it is up to him what happens. 

“And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it.  But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.” (Mark 4:33-34)

Jesus did not hide his teachings from anyone, but he spoke in parables, so that only those who cared enough to think about it or ask for explanations would fully understand.  He was not interested in having a big following, but in reaching those who wanted the truth.  As a result, on the Day of Pentecost, there were only about a hundred and twenty who were present in the upper room, despite  the thousands who had flocked to hear him at different times.  

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