Mark 4: 26 to 34:
And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come. And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it. And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear [it]. But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he cleared up all things to his disciples.
So is the Kingdom of God. It is based on faith! Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables, but he explained himself to his disciples. Why? Even to finish his previous parable in the first part of the chapter
Mark 4: 9: ‘He said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.’
Mark 4: 10 to 12: ‘And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all [these] things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and [their] sins should be forgiven them.’
Did he mean that or was he being sarcastic towards those people? Would Jesus be sarcastic? Well, he did throw over the money changers’ tables and John (2: 15) says that he made himself a whip to drive the money changers out of the temple.
Matt. 10: 34 to 37: ‘Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes [shall be] they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.’
Does this show a side of vehemence not that well known of him? But just before his arrest:
Luke 22: 36 to 38: ‘Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his bag: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.’
So it might quite well be that, when he said, ‘That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and [their] sins should be forgiven them,’ that he was feeling some futility in his mission. Not everybody would listen to him. At the beginning of this chapter Jesus had taught the parable of the sower:
Mark 4: 3 to 9: Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
And when he was alone with the twelve and some others, he explained:
Mark 4: 14 to 25: The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive [it], and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.
Not everybody will enter the Kingdom of God!
2. Cor. 5: 6 to 10:
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, [I say], and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things through the body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.
We must put our trust in God! We should not worry about the bodily or worldly things but the heavenly! One day we will stand before Christ and we have to justify what we have done with our lives. Did we give joy? Did we accept joy? We will receive the things through the body according to what we have done! And he that has, to him shall be given, and he who has not, from him shall be taken even that which he has.
We must feel God (Acts 17: 27)!
To some Jesus made things clear to others he only spoke in parables, in words which were easy to remember but which remained mystical to the listener. This is something with what we really struggle in modern times. We don’t want to trust, we want to know! We want to be clear about things!
But are we really? Do we really understand good and bad? Some might but most don’t! Most people run with the crowd, they might even run with the Christian crowd on a Sunday morning and the other crowd the remainder of the week! Should we call this other crowd the crowd of Satan (Mark 4: 15)? The word really means the adversary.
Mark 4: 15: And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
On a Sunday morning we believe we should love our neighbours and for the remainder of the week we should be competitors who believe that only the strongest shall survive? Isn’t this an offence against the first commandment?
Mark 4: Ex. 20: 2 & 3: I [am] the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Some translations say ‘besides me,’ I think around me would be suitable. But isn’t it in our everyday life that the law of economic competition’ according to which only the strongest shall survive, goes before the law of ‘love thy neighbour as you love thyself’? Do we worship a bull – god in our everyday lives? Is the image of the bull outside the Wall Str. Stock Exchange an image of the real god of the Western World? Does everything we do have scientific reason? Is it good to plan the obsolescence of goods so that they can be sold again, even though this wastes non – renewable resources of materials and energy and produces unnecessary emissions of Carbon Dioxide? If we do so for economic reason against scientific reason are we not worshipping another god?
Still most Christians don’t see a contradiction. They don’t see the transition from half a century ago, from ‘Count your blessings’ to ‘Dream big, have big goals’ today.
Is there a class society? Classes not based on wealth or descent, but on understanding? One class to be taught in parables and another to which reasoning is given?
Should we educate people to understand reasoning? In the Western World we do have public education, yet a large proportion of the public does not appreciate education and sees it only as a prerequisite to earn money. Most students don’t want to hear about anything that does not have to do with everyday life, meaning their immediate ability to earn an income.
To those science is like religion. They believe scientists, but they do not understand them. Who would be able to recall three pieces of evidence for the Big Bang Theory or for the Theory of Evolution without looking them up?
Should we promote leadership in education? Few English speaking people are aware that the German word for leader is Führer and that leadership was the core functional value of Nazi society. In post war Germany schools educate children not towards leadership, but they teach them never to follow a leader! Adolf Hitler discussed in his book ‘Mein Kampf’ leadership and democracy as two conflicting political principles!
But for ourselves, should we just believe? What should we believe? Should we believe what the priest or the Pope says or should we try to gain an understanding?
Isa. 55: 9: For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
But this refers to God. Should we study Ancient Languages, Hebrew and Ancient Greek? Would we not be happier, just to run with the crowd, without thought and criticism? When someone gets to the Pearly Gates and faces St Peter and says to him, ‘I always did what the Pope said,’ should that not count for something?
Maybe. That is faith. That is the decision you will have to make personally. Trust other widely respected persons without understanding or try to find some understanding. Can it be a matter of feeling? Should we seek the Lord, if haply we might feel after him (Acts 17: 27)? Let us look at what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, to Christians who lived in a multicultural city, where many gods were worshipped, notably Aphrodite Pornae, the Heavenly Harlot and where there was the festival in her honour, the Porneia (King James: fornication). The following is regarding the eating of food in Chinese and Indian restaurants, food prepared according to foreign recipes in temples in which it would have been offered to idols. The Ancients ate their sacrifices!
1. Cor. 8: Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but love builds up. And if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him. As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol [is] nothing in the world, and that [there is] none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us [there is but] one God, the Father, of whom [are] all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom [are] all things, and we by him. Howbeit [there is] not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat [it] as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
If any person loves God, he is known of him!
Rom. 14: 13 to 20: Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in [his] brother’s way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that [there is] nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him [it is] unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with [thy] meat, now walkest thou not with love. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ [is] acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed [are] pure; but [it is] evil for that man who eateth with offence.
All things are pure! But let not your good be evil spoken of.