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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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.