Sundays on Mark (10)

Continuing our simple Sunday reflections on Mark’s gospel

This week Mark 4:21-34

Using illustrations and parables, Jesus continues to explain the nature of the kingdom of God. Interwoven themes suggest themselves: a sense of drama, arrival, imminent unfolding promises of God being revealed, mixed in with judgement and the need for decision – all bound up with one person, this Galilean teacher.

The lamp on a stand points to a secret being announced, what has been hidden is being uncovered. Who will hear? Who will accept? The measure has a darker tone – as the parables themselves are ‘tests’ of the hearers, those who respond are blessed, those who shut their ears bring judgement upon themselves.

The growing seed conveys the sense that the events surrounding Jesus are works of God. The kingdom will grow, it is a work of God, not man. And it is will be fruitful, with a rich harvest – an image of completion and finality. God’s purposes for his people are reaching a climax.

Similiarly, the mustard seed, a tiny dot, will burst forth to produce bounty and beauty. From small beginnings, the kingdom of God will grow to bless all of creation. The parallels to Jesus’ hidden, humble origins are strong. The growth and advance of the kingdom is intimately tied up with the unveiling of the true identity of the Messiah

PRAYER: We worship you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as God of the everyday and ordinary. We rejoice that you are present with us in everyday life. And we live each ordinary day with hope because we see signs of your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. We look forward with joy to when your glorious kingdom is revealed in all its glory. Amen.

A Lamp on a Stand

21He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

24“Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”

The Parable of the Growing Seed

26He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

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.”

33With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

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