June 5, 2005

Mark 4:21-34 Sermon Notes

Category: Bible - NT - Mark :: Permalink

Mark 4:21-34
(June 5, 2005, Sermon Notes)

Jesus preached that God’s kingdom was near and that Israel had to repent and trust Him. When opposition arose, Jesus began to teach in parables, stories that often subverted Israel’s expectations of the kingdom.


In the parables of the light and the baskets, Jesus may still be speaking privately to His followers (4:21, 24: “to them”).

Jesus says that “the lamp comes” to be put, not under a basket or bed, but on the lampstand because “nothing has been hidden that won’t be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret except that it might be manifest. Some things are hidden for a while, but only so that later they may be revealed. So the lamp too can’t stay hidden but must be put on the stand.

This parable might apply to the whole Old Covenant. Things were hidden — the lamp itself was under a basket (the tabernacle) — but now, in Jesus, the light is shining and God’s hidden plans are being revealed.

It also applies to Jesus’ ministry. Jesus acts and speaks in a mysterious way, because for now He’s like David hiding from Saul, but one day everything will be plain. And then the disciples will have to make sure that Jesus’ light shines out and isn’t hidden any longer.

To do that, we must listen. Jesus’ next parable is about baskets: the basket you use is the basket that God will use in giving to you. Those who listen to Jesus in faith will keep receiving more and more. Those who listen superficially get little and will eventually lose all the blessings they do have.


In the next two parables, Jesus talks to the crowd about seed again. A sower (probably Jesus) scatters seed and while he sleeps and rises the seed does, too, growing up mysteriously “by itself” until the harvest.

The kingdom doesn’t come all at once. Israel herself isn’t ready for harvest. But seed is being planted and is growing up. Jesus will sleep and rise and so will His followers before the harvest comes. But it’s coming!

Jesus then invites the crowd to join Him in adopting the right image of the kingdom: “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God?” The proper image is this: the kingdom is like a tiny mustard seed thrown on the ground and then growing into a huge bush that gives shade to birds.

The last half of that image is a familiar description of world empires and emperors (Dan. 4:10ff.; Ezek. 17:1-10, 22-24), but the first part was shocking. The kingdom would start as a tiny seed thrown on the ground. It would start, that is, with Jesus, like David hiding from Saul, and then dying. But from that seed comes a kingdom that gives shelter to the world.

The parables demand a choice. Only those inside hear the explanation and only those who submit to the king come inside. But all who measure with big baskets receive the kingdom and grow into a rich harvest.

Posted by John Barach @ 9:45 am | Discuss (0)

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