Today’s Reading: Mark 4-5
Today’s Reflection: Mark 4:11
And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables.”
After Jesus preaches His first parable—the Parable of the Sower—to an audience, His disciples ask Him about this odd and interesting way of declaring the Gospel. Jesus makes clear that He is speaking in parables because understanding belongs to the disciples of His kingdom, not to those outside of His kingdom.
This declaration has a powerful synergy with the parable itself: a story of the word of God being poured out on many, but only finding root with a few. Those with hearts like the hardened path (Mark 4:4,15), stony ground (Mark 4:5-6,16-17), or thorns (Mark 4:7,18-19) have the power of the word fade away from them, but those with hearts like good soil (Mark 4:8,20) receive the truth of God’s word and bear fruit by both living it out and sharing it.
So what then is the difference between those to whom it is given to understand the Word of God and those to whom it remains confusing parables? What is the difference between those whose hearts are good, fertile soil for the seed of God’s Word, and those whose hearts are ultimately inhospitable? The answer is simple: a choice.
Mark 8:34 – And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
The disciples, as imperfect as they were, left behind their whole lives to follow Jesus. Even when Jesus teachings became so challenging that many of his followers decided to leave Him, the disciples stayed.
John 6:66-70 – 66) After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67) So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68) Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69) and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Surrender to God, putting aside material concerns (Matthew 6:31-33), submitting to the renewing of one’s mind (Romans 12:2) and adopting the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). All of this is necessary for understanding the Word of God. And this understanding manifests itself in a fruitful life, a life which directly and indirectly leads others to come to know and accept Jesus for themselves.
Acts 20:24 – But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.