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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1 Chronicles 22:9-13 But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign. He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’ “Now, my son, the Lord be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the Lord your God, as he said you would. May the Lord give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the Lord gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”