Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mark, Chapter 4

One of Jesus’s most preferred methods of teaching was through parables. More than simply stating His point, by teaching in parables He got people to think about their meaning. Jesus does not want us to simple observe and absorb the knowledge we are given. Instead, He wants us to think about it. He wants us to explore the deeper meaning because, in doing so, we learn even more. This chapter of Mark is laced with much of Jesus’s most famous parable. In each, we see that even His disciples struggled to understand the underlying message.

15Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown." – Mark 4:15-20

When I see this I ask myself, what kind of seed did I accept? It is my hope that I am producing a crop with the seed that I have received. Many days, however, I feel like the worries of life makes me unfruitful. This has been especially true lately. With the busy world that we live in, I think this may happen more than the other three examples of the Word. Think of the number of things that we have to worry about compared to just 100 years ago. Things are even drastically different within the span of our own lifetimes. Ten years ago, I was in the wonderful summer between high school and college without a care in the world, but things are much different now. Making a fruitful crop takes not only work on our end, but work through Christ as well. We must trust Him to make the word fruitful once we try to spread it, but we must still make the effort to spread it.

30Again he said, "What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. 32Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade." – Mark 4:30-32

Thinking of the sheer enormity of the kingdom of God makes my brain hurt. Regular readers of this blog know that I like to make huge examples in order to prove a point. Right now, there are about 6.5 billion people on the planet. Of that number, there are estimated to be more than 1 billion Christians, possibly 2 billion. Let’s consider that the earthly kingdom of God. I have attended a football game at the largest American Football stadium in the world, Michigan Stadium. At that game, there were more than 111,000 people in the stands. That 111,000 pales in comparison to 2 billion. It is roughly 1/10th of 1 percent of that earthly kingdom. This doesn’t even begin to describe the heavenly host, which thinking about its number makes my brain hurt even more.

All this grew from a single man, Jesus Christ. While Jesus was a man, he was also fully God, and therefore imbued with the power to make something so large that no man could have. Even if you are completely agnostic you have to agree that the life of that one “ordinary man”, Jesus, has more effect on the course of human history than any other person, ever. He has crossed every boundry, every barrier, and has reached every nation. What other man in history can claim that? Even in North Korea, one of the most repressive nations on earth, there is still a strong underground church. It is no wonder this parable makes so much sense, but only when you think about it.

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