“On Your Mark”
A Call to Action (Chapter 4 Verses 30-34)
This time it is a mustard seed (v31), picturing the minuteness of the seed and the phenomenal growth (v32; Ezekiel 17.22-24). Such is the growth of the kingdom, the Church, that all kinds of folk find beneficial rest, enjoyment, benediction through its influence in the world. We, the Church, are to be a blessing to this world, light (Matthew 5.14), salt (Matthew 5.13), all manner of goodness to humankind. There are many great needs to be met, there are people to be cared for, a multiplicity of human need crying out for help. We must minister to those needs, without forgetting they have souls that need to be saved. This kind of spirituality is itself powerful and makes itself felt, and known in societies in many ways. What a stimulus to faith? What a spur to good works (Ephesians 2.10)? And what better to fill us with hope and joy? But are you a living part of this living, growing, organism called the Church? Or are you one of those passing birds that has just taken momentary refuge in its branches? There is only one way into the Church (John 14.6), through faith in him, Jesus, that is (Romans 3.21-31; Acts 16.31).
The parabolic method of teaching (vv33-34), has double-edged purpose to it. Both clarification and concealment go hand in hand, without any contradiction. In his preaching he is always making people think, sometimes in a very revolutionary way about God’s kingdom, especially in terms of the Judaism of then. But good preaching should always do that. Stir us, get under our skin, make us think, and sometimes quite radically. Jesus’ preaching deliberately led people, inexorably, to a point of decision, either to follow Jesus or reject him. Those who rejected him? They never really understood who he was or the consequences of their actions. They are hindered by their own unwillingness to accept his claims on them, and so their knowledge, in spite of the parable, never becomes true in terms of understanding. This of course, is a problem for the disciples also, but Jesus will not allow his chosen ones to remain marginally committed to him, therefore he gives them the private exposition. The parables Mark has recorded here, call us to action. The right action which stems from a right hearing of the word of the kingdom. They call us to a renewed confidence in God’s work, which continues to grow, in spite of all the disappointments and setbacks. Trust him!