A word for the heart

with Alan Bailey

Mark 4:21-41 - The Gospel of Mark

Bible study

Introduction

Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.

Mark 4:21-41

This book by Mark features the ministry of Jesus, His words and His works. We have already seen how active Christ and His followers were, dealing with people and their problems and at the same time teaching them about the rule of God over this world. This section in chapter four tells us what the Kingdom of God is like. If you wonder what is meant by the expression “kingdom of God”, we will try to explain it.

Verse 21 He 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?

The Lord was always dealing with truth, making it known to hearers. By saying this, He was pointing out the need to expose what is important. A light under a bowl or bed is no use to anyone. A light on its stand does the job it was meant to do.

Verses 21 & 22 “For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Finding truth involves being open and honest. Hidden things can keep us from finding and embracing truth. Bringing thoughts and ideas into the open can increase our chances of arriving at the right place. The statement about having ears to hear is common enough in the Gospels and is simply a challenge to really tune in and heed what is said.

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

Perhaps another translation will make clear what is meant here. The Good News Bible reads:
“Pay attention to what you hear! The same rules you use to judge others will be used by God to judge you.—but with even greater severity. The person who has something will be given more, and the person who has nothing will have taken away from him even the little he has.”
This makes me think that to be generous to others is the way to go

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

This is a parable, a story used to illustrate a truth. The expression ‘the Kingdom of God’ is referring to the state of things which God desires and which He is bringing into being. It is His rule over the hearts of men and women. Eventually, God’s will shall be done, and this rule will extend over all those who have yielded to His authority.
In this description of the way a harvest comes about, Jesus is saying that silently and in a way invisibly, the kingdom of God in the hearts of people is growing. It is certain and sure.

Verses 30-32 Again He said, “What shall we say the Kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet 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.”

Again, Jesus is talking about the growth and development of God’s work among mankind. At first, what is happening may seem small, even insignificant, but given time it becomes huge and significant.

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

There came a point in Jesus’ ministry where He began to use parables with the crowds. It was in reaction to their unbelief and blindness. If they hadn’t been like this, they would have understood His words, but most of the time the truth was lost on them. It was a condemnation of a kind. In reality, a story should make things plainer and more easily understood.

Verses 35 & 36 That day when evening came, He said to His disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat. There were also other boats with Him.

These things were happening beside the Sea of Galilee. It was a large lake surrounded by fairly high hills. Much of what took place in Jesus’ ministry was around this body of water.
Jesus often wished to leave the crowd and find a little respite. Even so, as they left, other boats came too. They were rowing boats used for fishing.

Verses 37-39 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown? He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

You can imagine that the disciples would have remembered this experience very clearly. They were used to being on the water but storms were dangerous. Winds funnelled between the surrounding hills and lifted large waves that threatened to capsize the boat. It is interesting that Jesus was asleep despite the raging wind. We see how the men panicked.
The control Jesus exercised showed that He was more than just a man. He was master over nature itself.

Verses 40 & 41 He said to His disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!”
The life of Christ cannot be explained apart from His relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. His words and His works made it obvious to those observing that here was someone different. Very different. He was perfect in all His ways. He was never defeated in any situation. Yet He was not an exhibitionist, a magician, nor did He look for men’s applause. We see the beautiful life of the Son of God. God coming to humanity, bringing truth, bringing salvation to the lost. This Gospel of Mark shows Him having power over demons, power over sickness, power over nature, power over death and power over the world of men.

CONCLUSION

The disciples’ question, “Who is this?” is extremely vital for all of us. If Jesus is truly Lord of all, we must come to the place where He is Lord in our lives from day to day. People around us may not know or care who Jesus is, but the Gospel we are reading shows us clearly that we must not ignore Him. He can be our Saviour and friend.

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