August 28, 2004

Study of Mark: Mark 4:35-41

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side."And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?"And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?"
(Mark 4:35-41 ESV)

After having taught the multitudes in parables, and having explained the parables to His disciples, Christ is ready for a time of rest, so He commands the disciples to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. After He fell asleep, a storm comes up, and the disciples are upset, thinking He doesn't care about them.

Don't we tend to do that? Isn't our first reaction when something goes wrong, or something bad happens, to get mad at God? "God, I'm TRYING to do this for You. Why aren't you making it EASY FOR ME!!!??? Don't You want this to get done? What's up with all these problems? Don't You love me anymore?" Instead of thinking about what God has in mind for us, we're quick to get mad, and give up.

Jesus took care of the problem. He calmed the storm and the sea, just to show them that He could. God sometimes lets these things happen to us to show us that it is HIM, and not us, that is in control. He is trying to teach the disciples that they need to rely on Him. So He takes care of the problem, then rebukes their unbelief.

Waitaminuite. Unbelief? They ran to Him to fix things, didn't they? Yes, but they ran to Him NOT to ask for His help, but to complain that they were in the situation to begin with. Several of the disciples were fishermen -- they knew when a storm was possible, because their lives depended on it. They went out into the sea in obedience to Him, trusting that He'd not let something like this happen, and when it did, their faith was tested -- and they failed the test. They didn't believe that He was in control anymore. "Don't you care that we're GOING TO DIE??" is what they asked. They knew that they were going to die, and were mad that He put them in that situation. The storm came, and they lost faith.

Happens to us all the time. Sometimes the storm is big, sometimes it doesn't take much. I was upset last week that I couldn't find a place to stay in Louisville. I got mad at God -- wondering why He'd led me that far from home, only to abandon me once I got there. Finally, I got on my face in my hotel room and asked Him for guidance, and admitted I had been wrong. Next day, I run into someone in my Theology class who lives not far from home (right across the river, in fact), who told me that there was commuter housing available for $10 a night. I had thought that they didn't do that anymore at Southern. God had a plan for me -- all I had to do was recognize that He was in control. Now I have a place to live. Little storm -- but it sure seemed big on Wednesday night last week, when I was trying to figure out how we were going to pay for an apartment AND gas AND food AND everything else. This passage reminds me that God has everything under control.

Even after this storm on the sea, the disciples wondered who Jesus was, exactly. "What kind of man is this, that the very forces of nature obey Him?" They were starting to learn, though, that this wasn't just an ordinary religious leader that they were following.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 11:20 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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August 11, 2004

Study of Mark: Mark 4:21-34


And he said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand?For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."And he said to them, "Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."And he said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."And he said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth,yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.
(Mark 4:21-34 ESV)

We're continuing with Christ teaching his disciples through parables.

The first is that of a lamp, or candlestick. If you want to illuminate a room, do you hide it, or place it on a stand? Obviously, you place it on a stand. Christ's teachings to the disciples, though, were often under a basket -- he taught them secretly about many things. His point to this particular parable, I think, is that His mission was to 1. give Himself a sacrifice for us all, but 2. to train his disciples to spread the Good News of His kingdom. His teachings weren't for everyone -- that's why he taught so often in parables. His mission could only be understood in the context of Calvary -- before that time, people wouldn't be able to understand what He was doing.

The second teaching really is not a parable -- in fact, it's an explanation to the parable of the talents. When God gives us much, He expects much from us. Christ is preparing the disciples for their roles in spreading the Gospel to the world. They have been given much -- more than any other men in the world, for who can say that they learned at the feet of Jesus? Much will be required -- their very lives, ultimately.

Christ then makes another allusion to planting and harvesting, but to make a different point. We sow the seed of the Gospel. After we sow, we see results. We don't know why people are responding the way they are, and we don't know why other people aren't responding. it isn't for us to know. We accept that God is sovereign, and that His plan is in place. We rejoice that we have a harvest, not that we didn't get as many plants as we thought we would.

We then see the kingdom of God compared to a mustard seed. WHen planted, it seems small and insignificant -- much like our efforts in sharing the Gospel. But when the plant matures, it can grow into a huge tree. We never know who we have influenced by our faithful proclaiming of the Gospel. We cannot stop doing it simply because we see no big results right away. We may never know what lives we have touched, so we must continue to be faithful in our work, trusting that God will grant the increase.

Parables are tough to study, because of the simple fact that they are not always clear in what they are saying. Hopefully, I have been able to faithfully explain some of these parables of Christ. I look forward to hearing from others, who have their own ideas.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 12:34 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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