A Study in Mark, Week 2

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Popular theologian D.A. Carson once wrote, “there is no such thing as standing still in the spiritual life; if we cease to grow, then we shrink.”

As we continue to follow the ministry of Jesus, including the appointing of Apostles to carry on ministry to new places, we see that Jesus is continuing his call for men and women to experience new life. We find that his new life is attractive. Many are being healed, more are coming to see Jesus in action, and throughout his ministry Jesus begins to teach people about something called the Kingdom of God. The passages in this section of Mark often force us to ask questions. We wonder what exactly Jesus means by this new Kingdom, especially when he describes it through stories that hint at themes and characteristics relating to a new outlook on life. But, we also must remember that Jesus chose to reveal his mission and character through these parables.

A parable can be defined as an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. While at first glance we often do not seem to see a clear teaching in our readings of Jesus’ parables, we must remember that Jesus did not use them simply to confuse us. Have you ever been asked a riddle? As you initially hear the riddle, you rack your brain in hopes that you will somehow come up with any answer that may satisfy the seemingly meaningless question. You may sit in silent wonder for some time with seemingly no more clarity than before, or you may even get it, but eventually the riddler gives you the answer. All of the sudden you get it! You wonder how you didn’t see it before. Because it is so clear, you may even have a hard time understanding how others do not get it. And as you think about it, it makes more and more sense. This is kind of what a parable does to Jesus’ audience. The disciples were beginning to think Kingdom thoughts, so therefore, when Jesus spoke about the kingdom, the ideas conveyed made a little bit more sense. To those on the outside, they listened but left with no clarity, and no more knowledge about the Kingdom of God.

Our passage this week comes in the middle of a set of parables meant to reveal more about God’s will on earth. Jesus uses the illustration of a lamp on a lampstand to express his desire to teach that the Kingdom of God is meant to be revealed, not concealed. But sometimes things come in the way from us sharing the truth that lives within us. Our goal
this week is to spend some time searching for strongholds that may keep us from letting our light shine to the world.