“On Your Mark”
Receiving the Word (Chapter 4 Verses 21-29)
The receivers of God’s word are like lamps which have been lit (v21), which have a function of spreading light. Those recipients of the light are required to spread the light (Matthew 5.15). The answer to the Lord’s double question is, yes, it must do some good. In other words the hearing of God’s word must produce a dispelling goodness to others (James 1.22; Matthew 7.21; James 2.14-20), or it has not been heard properly. Therefore, be careful (v24a). It is inevitable that secret, hidden things, sooner or later will come out into the open (v22), yes even undiscovered crime and criminals (1Corinthians 4.5; Romans 2.16). The secrets, or mysteries of the gospel, the plan of God’s salvation (Ephesians 3.3-6), through those whom God has made children of light (Ephesians 5.8), will shine throughout the world, exposing darkness and evil (Ephesians 5.13). So let your light shine! This moral prescription (v25), applies to what Jesus has just been saying, the way Jesus hearers both hear and treat him. You want to understand more of God’s precious truth? Then you come with a full measure of attention and eagerness to listen, and God who is just (v24b), will grant you an even fuller measure. On the other hand if you come with a careless attitude, with no needs, no desires, or perhaps even worse, with a niggardly, critical spirit? Well, if this persists, even what you had will be taken from you.
What an encouragement to prayer and preaching is the Lord’s description of the kingdom (vv26-29). The word with its own inherent power to produce life, growth and development is scattered (v26). That is all a person can do, the seed itself does the rest. The ground which equals the human heart has no power to produce life, the life is in the seed. So can we not with this knowledge, pray for the soil, sow the seed, and pray for its growth, with confidence, knowing that God has a kingdom which he is building (Matthew 16.18). And knowing that there will be a harvest? There can be no spiritual life in a person unless the word is cast into the heart, where God gives an increase (v29; 1Corinthians 3.6-7). What a power is the word of God? Falling into a sinner’s heart, it begins to send out shoots and roots, regenerating, renewing, sanctifying, in a way mysterious to us (v27). But a blessed reality to us (James 1.18; 1Peter 1.23-25; 1John 5.1). Have confidence in God’s word.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)