Daily D – Mark 4:33-34
Mark 4:33, 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.
Parables enlighten or obscure depending on the ability to hear.
James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Mark, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2002), 146.
I love this quote from James Edwards. In ten words, he summarizes the conclusions of many well-researched books. For those who leaned in to listen to what Jesus was saying and who invested their attention, they walked away with truth they could contain, truth they could turn into life-altering belief and behavior. For those who only wanted to hear a good story, all they received was a good story.
You may notice as you read the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John how some people simply enjoyed being part of the crowd. It was okay when the party was over and the crowds were dismissed. They had an experience and that was enough.
This happened in the Apostle Paul’s ministry as well. Consider 1 Corinthians 3. In a church full of dramatic activity, they still required bottle feeding. They were much more comfortable as a crowd than as disciples who made disciples.
The last sentence in the two Bible verses above is illuminating. “But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.” It is in unhurried moments with Jesus when we come to know and understand his heart, his plans, his purpose, and our place in them.
Martha and Lazarus’s sister Mary is one of our best role models. In spite of all the distractions and responsibilities, she always wanted to sit at Jesus’ feet. Her whole life could be summed up as “More Jesus, please.”
On our recent trip to Italy, our guide was leading us through the Accademia Gallery toward the David statue when my attention was arrested by a large painting of Jesus on the cross. Alongside the cross were the characters we know well from the Gospels.
Lazarus stood nearby gazing at his friend now dead who had raised him from the dead a few days before. Martha was there reaching up to receive the body of Jesus as he was lowered from the cross. And Mary. Mary knelt at his feet. Of course, she did. Oh, for a heart like hers! More Jesus, please, even in his death than any other man alive.
Jesus invited followers to a feast again and again. He provided a feast on more than one occasion. He is the Bread of Life and Living Water. He overpowered death for Lazarus and others. He conquered his own death. He is the Giver of Life Eternal.
More Jesus, please.
Notice tomorrow, if you watch the football game, how many people on camera wear a cross. It’s nice how they identify with Jesus publicly. I wonder how often they are alone with Jesus to hear his words and to understand all the cross means and makes possible? I will pray this becomes a life-giving habit for them.
Parables arrest attention. Attention is easily distracted and refocused. Every person must decide if Jesus is worth more than a story with a point meant for transformation. Every person must decide if they want to learn the language of heaven from the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
I will seek to know Jesus more and more, better and better, now and always.
Our Father, there is an old hymn declaring how we want more of you. This is my testimony. This is my great desire. Give me ears to hear you. Give me a willing and obedient heart to join you in your work building a better world and preparing people for a heavenly home. Amen.
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Daily D – 1 Samuel 9:21
1 Samuel 9:21 Saul replied, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?”
Daily D – 1 Samuel 7:12
1 Samuel 7:12 Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!”
Daily D – 1 Samuel 3:19
1 Samuel 3:19 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable.
Daily D – Ruth 2:12-13
Ruth 2:12, 13 “May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.” “I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.”
Daily D – Judges 19:1
Judges 19:1 Now in those days Israel had no king. There was a man from the tribe of Levi living in a remote area of the hill country of Ephraim. One day he brought home a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine.