Friday, August 24, 2012

Mark 4:21-25

21 Also He said to them, Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand? 22 For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.

Now Jesus by using the analogy of a lamp (i.e. an ancient oil lamp) not being hidden, but being placed on a lampstand tells us that the Kingdom of heavens secrets are now being revealed; (i.e. God's hidden secrets and mysteries things kept secret from the foundation of the world have now come to light through Christ's Gospel). For Jesus' analogy here is not of the individual believer; as in Matthews gospel in the beatitudes of being a light in the world by which Jesus is revealed and God glorified by a believers good works (Matt 5:14-16); rather here Jesus is clearly referring to His Word (as this passage immediately follows His giving the parable of the Sower). And so in the Lord Jesus Christ's Words, both the King and the Kingdom of heavens secrets are being revealed to all those who hear (i.e. believe and obey Him).

Which leads us into the next immediate passage:
24 Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. 25 For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”
Notice in this immediate follow up passage Jesus' first exhortation is that we take heed what we hear. For there is a crucial distinction to be made between the Lord Jesus Christ's Words; which have God's Authority in them; rather then just the mere and mortal words of sinful man. Therefore the importance and stress one lays on the Lord Jesus Christ's Words is absolutely crucial if one is going to follow Him and obey Him in discipleship. And so in this passage Jesus once again warns about the importance of hearing His Word; here somewhat differently than in parable of the Sower; for there He warns us not to let the Word get stolen away or choked out by three primary things:

1) By Satan immediately taking away what was sown in someones heart; which happens to all those who do not believe, and thus the Word never takes root. And so Jesus compares this to the seed which falls by the wayside which the birds of the air came and devoured (Mark 4:4).

2) By Persecution and Tribulations In this one the person receives the Word with joy and thus the Word seemingly takes root, but as Jesus says when persecution or tribulation arises they immediately stumble, and thus they lose their faith. And so Jesus compares this to the Word being sown on stony ground where there is no depth of earth and so the sun in heat of the day withers the plant away (Mark 4:5-6). Bringing this Biblical analogy into our reality it seems that this happens to some because they had false expectations about the journey ahead. Likely thinking that the Christian life and God's service would always be a pleasant and easy one. Well it isn't (Matt 7:13-14). As the Apostle Paul also said: "we must through many tribulations enter the Kingdom of Heaven" Acts 14:22

3) By Jesus' Word being choked out by "the cares of this world"; "the deceitfulness of riches", "the desire for other things", all which Jesus warns makes the Word unfruitful! Now in Jesus last warning in the parable of the Sower in Mark's Gospel He warns about three very specific things that choke out God's Word if one lets them do so:

First "the cares of this world": Jesus addressed this early on in His ministry in Matthews gospel with His Sermon on the Mount. There He told us not to be anxious about food and clothing saying "what shall we eat" or "what shall we drink" or "what shall we wear" (Matt 6:31-32); instead by analogy of how God feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field we must know and believe that our lives and thus our very well being is also under the loving hand and watchful eye of God, i.e. the hairs of your head are all numbered.(see Matt 6:25-30; Luke 12:6-7). Therefore the cares of this world must never be a hindrance to our following Jesus and pursuing whatever purposes He has already planned for us to fulfill. Instead rather than worrying about all the "what if's" we must seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and all these things will be added to us (Matt 6:33). It's a truly a great promise from our Lord and a reality that I myself have and continue to experience.

Second: "Deceitfulness of Riches" Probably the biggest deception in Christian dome, people not heeding Jesus' warning about no one being able to serve God and mammon (Matt 6:19-24). And thus the deceitfulness of riches choke out the Word and it becomes unfruitful. The Apostle James also warned that the rich man will fade-away in his pursuits (James 1:11). Now unrighteous mammon has a place in one's life. However if that is one's first desire and pursuit then the Kingdom of heaven, the Lordship of Christ, and thus God's Word will not be. And thus we are called to withdraw from every brother or sister who professes faith in Jesus Christ yet thinks and lives like Godliness is a means for their own financial gain (1 Tim 6:5). Now the antidote as the Apostle Paul said is for those who are rich now, to be rich in good works, ready to give willing to share, and so lay up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come (1 Tim 6:17).

Third: "The desire for other things" this is the most innocuous one in that one can so easily overlook it. For here Jesus is not warning about clearly sinful or wrong things, but rather "the desire for other things". And so He leaves it open to mean just about anything which takes away our focus, time and energies from His Word to pursue "other things". For God's Word will not be second to anything. Therefore we must all be careful that we don't waste the time allotted us here on earth in desiring and thus pursuing those things which ultimately have nothing to do with the Kingdom of heaven. Of course the antidote is living a new course of life and having new priorities by taking heed to Jesus Word: "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. Mark 8:34-38

And so back to the passage at hand Jesus having given the parable of the Sower and thus warning us all about His Word getting chocked out by various things now commends us all to hear Him (and not someone else); and so we must Hear Him and believe Him with all seriousness, reverence and diligence. For again He says: “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. 25 For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

Therefore lets consider first Jesus' statement "With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given". Though similarly sounding to Jesus warning in Matthew about how we judge others we will be judged (see Matt 7:1-5). Here Jesus' emphasis is on His Word and how we hear it. For if you do not take Jesus' Words seriously; and thus never actively apply it to your life; nor put the hard effort of study into it then it's highly unlikely He will give you anymore than what you yourself receive, do and pursue. That's what He is essentially saying here. The measure you use will be measured to you. You want to rich in all Knowledge and Wisdom and Understanding of God's Word then you got to be an attentive listener of it and heeder to do it. Not an easy task, but certainly well worth the effort when one sees the fruits and results of doing so. And thus when one does so Jesus promises that more will be given them. For Spiritual growth and thus growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ comes first by faith then by a concerted effort. In contrast to that Jesus says "but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him." Therefore where there is no faith there will be neither salvation nor a growing up into Spiritual maturity by Knowledge of, and through Christ's Word.
Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982


No comments:

Post a Comment