Chardon church of Christ

Sermons from the Chardon church of Christ

The Growing Seed

Posted by Chardon in Mark 4

The Growing Seed

Mark 4:26-29

 

INTRO:

Good evening.   We continue our look at the parables.   We are going to look at a parable which is only found in Mark’s Gospel.    This parable is closely related to “The parable of the Sower” which is found in Mark 4:1-20.

 

Jesus often introduces parables with the phrase, “The kingdom of heaven is like.”

For example, in Matthew 13:34 Jesus says that, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.” In Matthew 13:44 He says that, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.” We looked at these not too long ago.

 

It is in Mark 4:26-29, we find “The parable of the growing seed,” which we are going to look at tonight. Again, Jesus introduces His parable with the phrase, “The kingdom of God is…” He has just finished explaining to His disciples “The parable of the Sower.”

Once again we realize that the disciples still didn’t understand and Jesus asks them in Mark 4:13 "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?” Jesus explains “The parable of Sower” to them and we pick the story up from verse 26.

 

Mark 4:26-29 – “26. And He said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, 27. "and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. 28. "For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. 29. "But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.''”

 

I heard a story about a preacher who went on a mission trip to Russia.  His usual translator became ill and a substitute was found.  Unfortunately the substitute got a little mixed up with the word “heirs” as in I’m an heir to the throne and the word “errors” when he was translating.

 

When the preacher began his sermon, he noticed that his audience did not seem very impressed, but he kept on going anyway.  Then he became worried that he may have offended some people, so he asked the substitute translator to tell him what he had said to the people.

 

This is what the translator said.

"My brothers, you and I who are here today are mistakes of God's kingdom.  We are the mistakes of God and fellow mistakes with Christ, who is the mistake of all God has made."

 

We know that God does not make mistakes. The point of the story is that we are not mistakes of God. We’re not fellow mistakes with Christ and we’re certainly not mistakes of God’s kingdom.

 

In fact we’re a part of the kingdom which God spoke about way back in the Old Testament.  Before we get into the meaning of the parable, I would like to say a few words about the kingdom.

 

  1. The word “kingdom” literally means “reign or rule” and the idea of The Kingdom has its roots in the Old Testament.  From the beginning the people of Israel are described as being unique. They’re described as the chosen people of God. They are the recipients of His special favor and God Himself was their king.

    1. The Bible says in Judges 8:22-23“22. Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, "Rule over us, both you and your son, and your grandson also; for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.'' 23. But Gideon said to them, "I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.''”

      1. The people wanted Gideon to rule over them and be their king, but he tells them that God is their leader.
      2. God Himself will rule over them.   If you have a kingdom, you need a king to rule over that kingdom.
    2. They said to Samuel in 1 Samuel 8:5 – “"Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make for us a king to judge us like all the nations.''”
      1. Samuel wasn’t very impressed with this saying.  

        1. First of all they had a king, namely God.
        2. Second in saying this they were saying that to “take over” from Samuel they wanted to have a selection made.
  • Third they referred to Samuels ways not Gods ways.
  1. Fourth they wanted to be like the other nations, something that they were not supposed to desire.
  1. Samuel prayed to God and God said to him in 1 Samuel 8:7- “"Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”
  2. In other words, they already had a king, God was their king, so the Israelites weren’t rejecting Samuel.   They were rejecting God Himself.
  3. Even though they rejected God we know that God gave them a king, King Saul, but as time went on, those who were truly wise, recognized that there was no other authority except God’s authority.
  1. Psalm 103:19 – “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all.” The Lord established His throne where?   In heaven. What does His kingdom rule over? All.

    1. It was during the days of King David and King Solomon that the Israelite’s kingdom reached its peak, but as we know even this was short lived.

      1. They lost their kingdom because they rejected their true king.
      2. They lost their kingdom because they rejected God’s commandments, and they ended up in captivity.
    2. It’s during this time in captivity that the prophet Jeremiah gets the word from the Lord that we read of in Jeremiah 30:8-9 – “8. `For it shall come to pass in that day,' says the Lord of hosts, `That I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. 9. But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.”.
  2. During the same time Daniel said in Daniel 2:44 – “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”
    1. God was saying that there was a time coming when He would reaffirm His kingly reign.
    2. His people would honor Him because they’re called by His name.
    3. After John the baptizer was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. He said in Mark 1:15 – “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Jesus said a little later in Mark 9:1 – “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.” Did that time come? Has this kingdom arrived?
    4. Surely it has or there would be some very old people walking around.  
    5. Now in Acts 2:47 we find people being added into that kingdom. As we understand it that kingdom is called the church. “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Remember we are dealing with a spiritual kingdom, not a physical one.
  3. Let’s read the parable again and see if we can understand how this spiritual kingdom grows.  Mark 4:26-29 and I paraphrase; “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain--first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come." [NIV]
    1. The first thing we need to notice is that the kingdom is not something that sprung up in a moment.  It was planned. It was prepared for and brought into being in the past and even now awaits its final consummation.  In other words, it started its life in the mind of God.

      1. It was spoken of by the Old Testament prophets, like we looked at a moment ago.
      2. Jesus said it was near.
      3. In Acts 2 we see the spiritual kingdom was established.
      4. If you are a Christian today, then you can be sure that you are part of the kingdom.
    2. In Colossians 1:13-14 Paul describes the kingdom as; “The kingdom of the Son He loves.” It says; “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” [NIV]  We see very clearly that we’ve been transferred into this kingdom because we’re Christians.
    3. In Hebrews 12:28-29 it says; “28. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29. For our God is a consuming fire.” We are in that kingdom now.
    4. In 2 Peter 1:10-11, Peter says; “10. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11. for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Just as a side note whenever the Bible talks about the everlasting kingdom, it’s talking about heaven itself.
    5. Folks, this is the central truth taught in “The parable of the growing seed.”  The kingdom spreads all over the world. That’s what we’re going to look at tonight, the growth of this spiritual kingdom.  I want to share with you 4 points but don’t worry I’m not going to use a huge amount of time.
  • The 1st point is this, Kingdom growth is gradual.  As in the production of grain, nature works step by step. There is a step-by-step process by which it grows. Nearly all of nature’s marvels are formed gradually.

    1. I like to watch TV programs about nature, about wildlife, especially wildflowers. If they film a plant growing what they do is speed the film up so that you can watch it grow, and it’s amazing to see the process of its growth.

      1. Those of us who are gardeners like Juanita, we will plant a seed in the ground and after a while you will see the results of that growth, but the actual process of growth is barely visible.
      2. It’s the same with the kingdom of God.   Jesus says in the 2nd half of Mark 4:28, “First the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.”
      3. If we were to apply this parable to an individual person, we would get a lesson in patience.  Christian growth is gradual.
        1. When a baby is born, they don’t walk and talk straight away.
        2. It is gradual and they need to be encouraged to walk and talk.
  • The more they try, the more confident they get at it.
  1. It’s the same with baby Christians.   We shouldn’t expect them to be able to preach a sermon or teach a lesson in a ladies’ class right after their baptism.  They need time to learn the simple things about Christianity. Things like learning how to pray, learning how to read and study God’s word by themselves. How to meditate on Gods word and understand how it commentates on itself to lead to fuller understanding.
  2. When we think about it, just as it’s possible to expect too little of ourselves, it also must be possible that we expect too much of ourselves.   In our moral and spiritual development we sometimes want to take giant steps, and if we fail, we end up being so disappointed, disheartened in ourselves. We need to learn to walk before we can run.  The mature Christians among us should never forget nature’s lesson, the necessity of gradual growth.
  1. You know people have come up with hundreds of ways to get others into their assemblies.

    1. They believe they have good plans to get people to join.
    2. Some use musical instruments to attract people into becoming members, some say, “Look how spiritual I am, I speak in tongues.”
    3. People are into all sorts of things to attract other people.
    4. We need to remember that a person doesn’t go to bed a sinner and wake up the next morning as a Christian. It doesn’t happen like that.
    5. We need to be patient and trust God.
  2. Acts 5:14 – “And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,” We need to let new Christians develop gradually and we need to trust God to add people to His kingdom.
  1. Second, kingdom growth is orderly.   Mark 4:26-27 – and I paraphrase; “A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.”

    1. When the seed is buried in the soil, its very existence seems to be vulnerable, but the seed’s growth is marked by an orderly process.

      1. Just like we go through different stages in our physical growth, it’s the same with the kingdom of God.
      2. We know that we go through different phases.
      3. When children are born and they go through the teething process, then they grow a little more and go through the terrible twos, threes, fours and fives.
      4. Next they start to go through the rebellious stage, which starts at about age 6 or so and goes on until they are 18 years old after which it gradually tapers off for most.   That was a joke by the way.
      5. In between all that, they go through what we call puberty, which is another fun part of growing up. Most people grow in the same order, infancy, childhood, youth and adulthood.
      6. It’s almost impossible to tell when one period ends and another period starts, but at the same time the different stages of development can be clearly recognized.
    2. It is in like manner with Christian development.
      1. Peter says that recent converts to Christianity are like newborn babies.
      2. 1 Peter 2:1-3 – “1. Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2. as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3. if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”
      3. Peter tells us that we have a duty to grow as Christians. Sadly, there are some Christians who aren’t new but haven’t grown much either.
      4. 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 – “1. And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3. for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 4. For when one says, "I am of Paul,'' and another, "I am of Apollos,'' are you not carnal?”
        1. In other words Paul is saying, “You guys are still like little babies, when are you going to grow up and act like the mature Christians you are supposed to be?”
        2. Someone can be a Christian for a long time, but they’ve never grown.
      5. Then Paul reminds those who are mature in 1 Corinthians 14:20 – “Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.” He is saying, regarding evil be as infants, but in your thinking be adults.
      6. Jesus says in Matthew 5:48 – “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” We know the word we translate here as “perfect” here means “complete”.   It means maturity.
        1. In other words, there are different stages of Christian growth that we all need to be aware of.
        2. Certainly, a new Christian may do and say things that aren’t very mature because of a lack of knowledge and understanding.  Those who are mature should recognize this and give them a helping hand in their understanding.
        3. I have in other assemblies noticed that some Christians seem to complain and grumble a lot.   I now suspect that one of the reasons they complain and grumble all the time is that they haven’t grown up in Christ, they are still babies.  The point is every Christian should be growing spiritually.
      7. Ephesians 4:15 – “But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head Christ ”  We’ve all got a duty to grow up, but we’ve also got a duty to understand that Christian growth is a process, it takes time.  We need to be patient with those who are slow to develop.
    3. Third, the kingdom growth is from God. Can anyone here explain how things grow?   Scientists understand it is because of the coding in the cells but taking a seed into the laboratory and growing it, they still can not delineate what makes a seed turn into a flower.
      1. Mark 4:26-28 - “A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain.” [para] A farmer can do a great many things to the soil.   He can break up the soil, plant crops that add nutrients to the soil, make the soil looser by adding sand or mulch, modify the soil pH with additives, fertilize the soil, weed the soil but he himself does not make the seed grow.
      2. W. Dicus says in the 3rd stanza of the song My God and I
      3. “Secure, is life from mortal mind, God holds the germ within His hand, though men may search, they cannot find, For God alone does understand.”
        1. He’s saying the same thing that Job is saying in Job 36:26-29 – “26. "Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; nor can the number of His years be discovered. 27. For He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist, 28. Which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man. 29. Indeed, can anyone understand the spreading of clouds, the thunder from His canopy?”

He’s saying that the great minds can try to understand how the universe was formed, how the human body works, but they’re never going to be able to fully do so.

  1. He’s saying that people can search but they will never fully understand because it is only God who truly understands these things.
  2. The lesson here is that there are some things that God alone can do.
  1. It’s the same in the spiritual kingdom of God.

    1. Whatever growth takes place in His kingdom is due to the operation of God.
    2. We may sow the seed, but we cannot make it germinate in the human heart.
    3. Colossians 4:3-4 – “3. meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4. that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.” We can select the seed and prepare the soil (human hearts) through prayer. We can tend and weed through teaching, but we ourselves can not make the seed grow and we need to understand that.
    4. I know sometimes we beat ourselves up when nothing happens, especially if it is family or someone we love greatly. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:6 – “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” How does God do that?  
      1. There is the story about a young skeptic who sat in the church assembly one morning when the preacher was speaking about the wilderness wandering.   The preacher made a statement about how the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and their sandals never wore out.
      2. The young skeptic shouted, “Rubbish, how’s that possible?”
  • The preacher looked at the young man and said, “God!”
  1. The young skeptic said, “Oh, I understand.”
  2. The preacher said, “No son, nobody really understands.”
  1. We don’t understand how God makes the seed grow, but we know He does.   Do you know how we know He does? Because we are here as Christians today, aren’t we?
  1. Yet consider, just because God makes the seed grow, that doesn’t let us off the hook does it?

    1. Paul says to Philemon in Philemon verse 4-6 – “4. I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, 5. hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, 6. that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.”
    2. We still have a responsibility to carry out, because we still have a vital part in the growing process and our part is an active one. We are His hands.
    3. We accept that we can’t make the seed grow, but we still need to make sure that the conditions are right so that the seed will have a chance to grow.   We till the soil, water when needed, remove the rocks and pull the weeds.   We do as Adam was instructed, tend the garden.
  2. John 4:24 – “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” You see at the end of the day the kingdom belongs to God and the growth of the kingdom will be from God.
    1. The sower must sow God’s seed and wait patiently for God to do His part.
    2. We must sow the seed, but it is God who causes the growth, it is God who gives fruit. We are tenders.
  3. That brings us to the last part.  In the kingdom it is God who harvests the fruit.
    1. Jesus says in Mark 4:29 – “But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” What’s He saying?  Jesus is saying that it is God who produces growth; hence the fruit, then when this fruit is ripe, again it is God who will bring the matter to a conclusion, not man.

      1. Man does not add someone to the kingdom, the church.   It is God who does the adding.
      2. The imperative “immediately” here indicates to us that when a person is ready we are not to delay in bringing them before God in baptism.

 

CONCLUSION:

It is God’s kingdom and we are His workers, we tend this garden. Look with me now at James 5:7-8 – “7. Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. 8. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

 

Here again it talks about the farmer waiting for the precious fruit of the earth but now we are talking about the coming of the Lord.   For the people who have been born again, this is our hope.   For those who haven’t been born again this will be the day when they will wish they had never been born at all.    I will close with Revelation 14:14-16 – “14. And I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. 15. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.'' 16. So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.” Judgment is certain.

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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins… If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

 

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.

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Reference Sermon

Mike Glover

 

 

Suggested song before the lesson: 668—Our God, He Is Alive

 

The Sower

Posted by Chardon in Mark 4

The Sower

INTRO:    Good evening. I will begin by telling you a story about little Johnny when he was quite young, about 3 years old. Little Johnny went with his dad to see a litter of kittens. When he got home he told his mother that, "There were 2 boy kittens and 2 girl kittens."
His mother asked him, “how do you know?" Johnny said, "Well, daddy picked them up and looked underneath, so I think it's printed on the bottom."

This evening we are going to look at a parable of Jesus which is unique. Unique in that Jesus himself explains the meaning of it. The parable of the Sower is the one we are going to look at in Mark 4.

We’re going to read quite a lot but just little portions at a time.
Mark 4:1-2 – “1. And again He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea. 2. Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching:” [NKJV]. Let me stop there a minute. What an amazing sight that must have been. I imagine being in a large number of people sitting along the water’s edge and listening to the Master teacher speaking from a boat. What a pulpit that must have been to use. Jesus says, “Listen” and then goes on to share the parable with them in verse three through nine.

Mark 4:3-9 – “3. "Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4. "And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. 5. "Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. 6. "But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. 7. "And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 8. "But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.'' 9. And He said to them, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!''”
Then Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Interesting how Jesus starts the parable and how He ends the parable. He starts by saying, “Listen” and ends by saying, “He, who has ears to hear, let him hear."

Teachers understand this issue when giving a lesson. One of the frustrating things for a teacher is wondering if anyone is listening to what they’re trying to say. Come to think of it, that goes for parents too. Those of you who have had children will know exactly what I’m talking about. You tell your child not to do this or that because it might be harmful but they go ahead and do it anyway. You often wonder if they’re getting it or if they are even listening.

We reach the point where we say to them, “Didn’t I tell you not to do that? Am I just wasting my breath?” Then you get them to repeat what you have said. If you ask they may repeat what you said, but it’s pretty obvious that they didn’t really listen to you in the first place. They didn’t fully grasp it. I suspect that’s one of the reasons why Jesus’ catchphrase was, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear." He uses this several times as you will see as you study. It didn’t just mean listen to what I’ve just said. It means think about it, pay attention to what I’ve just said.

I. Now Jesus reveals something to His disciples in Mark 4:10-13 – “10. But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. 11. And He said to them, "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12. "so that 'seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.' '' 13. And He said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?”
A. Jesus said He speaks in parables so that He can reveal secrets about the kingdom of heaven. "Mystery" in the New Testament sense refers to a glorious truth long concealed but now revealed (Romans 16:25-26).
1. Jesus' statement here is that the parables were intentionally designed to leave some of his audience in the dark. The parable He just shared did exactly what the parable was designed to do. It split the people into two groups, those who were interested in truth and those who weren’t.
2. Verse 10 says; “But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable” There were only a few that asked Him what the parable was about. Only a few people who were really interested in these truths. What Jesus is saying here when He quotes from Isaiah 6:9-10 is that, and I will paraphrase ‘My people can see and perceive, My people can hear and understand but they just don’t want to’. They don’t want to turn to God and be forgiven because their hearts are so far away from Me. They have always seen, they’ve always heard, but My people don’t want to listen and understand, because they are too stubborn.
3. Then in Isaiah 29:13 – “... the Lord said: "Inasmuch as these people draw near to Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me,” listen to these next words “and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,” A couple of chapters later in Mark 7:6-9 Jesus says; “6... "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 7. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' 8. "For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.'' 9. And He said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”
4. That brings to light more information about those who did not understand. Many just did not want to hear, they were too stubborn. Righteous in themselves... self-righteous. But there are others who had an agenda to keep things as they were. The religious leaders of the day. If Jesus had spoken plainly and unambiguously of being the Messiah and talked about the kingdom, the Pharisees could have accomplished His murder prematurely; therefore, it was of necessity that Jesus cloaked His teachings in those beautiful and humble parables, which in no sense hid His message from "ordinary people”," they being the very ones who fully understood him. The parables did, however, fully hide it from the proud, arrogant, unspiritual priesthood who organized against him.
B. Jesus asks those who are listening in Mark 4:13, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?” Jesus is saying this secret about the kingdom of heaven is so easy to understand. It’s so plain and obvious and yet do you understand it?
1. He’s telling them that they need to able to understand this parable so that they can go on and understand other parables He will teach them.
2. It’s much the same idea that Paul has when he says to the church in Corinth. 1 Corinthians 3:1-2 – “1... brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;”
3. Jesus is going to teach them about the parables. What He is doing is essentially teaching them how to listen, how to learn. These few around Him wanted to know but they were yet babes and so He begins to explain in verse 14.
II. Mark 4:14-20 – “14. "The sower sows the word. 15. "And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. And when they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16. "These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17. "and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word's sake, immediately they stumble. 18. "Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19. "and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20. "But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.''”
A. Jesus taught and explained the parable using an everyday life example. He uses the illustration of a farmer sowing his seed.
1. Let me plant something in your heads. Have you ever wondered why some people become Christians and then a little later they fall away? Or have you ever wondered why some people do not become Christians?
2. Every week the gospel is preached in the church. People attend every week and they hear the gospel of Christ being preached. They know what they need to do to become obedient to the Gospel, and yet it seems to happen so infrequently.
3. How come we don’t get people coming to Christ when the gospel is preached like they did during Biblical times? Maybe the best way to answer that question is by letting Jesus ask the question He was asking through this parable.
B. How could the scribes and Pharisees misrepresent God the way they did? How could the disciples and those listening not totally understand what Jesus was teaching? How could they not get it?
1. The way the word is being sown or being preached isn’t the problem. The problem lies with the way people receive the word. In other words those people who are honestly searching for the truth, it’s those people to whom the truth will become much clearer to.
2. Jesus said in Mark 4:3-8, "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, some fell on rocky places, other seed fell among thorns and other seed fell on good soil.”[para]
3. In His explanation people are like the place where the seed lands. He’s talking about 4 different soils, which represent 4 different reactions or responses when the gospel is preached.
III. In Mark 4:15 Jesus tells them and us; “Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.”[para]
A. Remember to whom the word of God is being preached. It’s being preached to sinners, people whose hearts have been hardened with sin over the years.
B. Jesus said that the birds are a picture of the devil himself, who comes down and takes the seed away. The reason the devil can so easily take it away is because the word of God makes no impression on these people at all.
C. They are so hardened in sin they don’t even understand the significance of the words being said. In other words, the path is hard and the seed has nowhere to plant its roots. They hear the gospel but don’t hang around long enough to find out what it means to them. When people are hardened with sin, they always think that whatever’s being said doesn’t apply to them.
D. Let me ask you this: What I’m saying today, does it apply to any of us? Remember in Acts 2 when Peter preached the 1st gospel meeting, 3000 souls asked, “Brothers what shall we do?” They wanted to hear more. Why? Because they understood that what Peter had just finished saying to them, applied to them. They killed the Messiah and they understood; they got it.
E. But remember, Peter also preached the gospel to thousands more on that day who didn’t want to know and his words landed on a hardened path. That’s what Jesus is talking about in the first part of the parable.
IV. Jesus says in Mark 4:16-17, “Other people, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away” [para].
A. I remember quite some years ago, the late Billy Graham would speak at big gospel meetings in football stadiums and thousands of people would turn up to hear what he had to say. At the end of the night he would always put an invitation out to people to come forward, ‘Confess Jesus as Lord and become Christians’. I don’t want to get into that because we know what’s right and what’s wrong about it, but what happened was many people would come forward and give their lives to Jesus on that night.
B. The problem was that a few days after all the excitement had gone, the troubles of life were remembered and they lost interest in Jesus. In other words, they heard the word of God, they accept it with gladness and joy but it gains no root within them.
C. Jesus says that they are OK for a while but as soon as any persecution or worry comes along from being a follower of God, they just give up. The word was planted in them and it tries to grow but the soil was lacking.
D. Mark 4:5 – “Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth.” In Luke 8:6 we read; “Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.”
E. There are hearts out there that will receive the truth with great readiness and joy. Yet, when the heat gets turned up, these people fall away.
F. It is a concern when people become Christians without even studying the word of God first. I think people need to know and understand Who and what they are committing too. Whenever the heat of tribulation or persecution comes along because of the word of God, their delight in the truth just withers away and dries up.
1. With that in mind, let’s look at Luke 14:26-35 – “26. "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27. "And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28. "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it 29. "lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all who see it begin to mock him, 30. "saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' 31. "Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32. "Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33. "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. 34. "Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? 35. "It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!''”
2. Jesus is telling us; Listen, if we want to become a follower of Him, we need to think hard about it first. We are going to have to love Him more than we love our own family. We are going to have to carry our own cross and suffer like Jesus suffered. He says, we will need to put Him first, in front of everything else in our life.”
3. Again He says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear." In other words think about it, think a lot about His words and after you have thought, think about it even more. Then He reminds us in John 16:33 – “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
V. Jesus goes on to describe another type of response to the gospel in Mark 4:18-19 – “18. "Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19. "and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” In the case of the seed that fell among the thorns, there is nothing wrong with the soil.
A. It’s not too hard like the seed that fell along the path.
B. There’s enough soil for the seed to take root unlike the seed that fell on a rocky place.
C. It’s not the soil that’s the problem. It’s what is in the soil around it. It’s the environment in which it is living that is the problem. We know one of the ways that Satan likes to attack God’s people is with worry. Worry is the greatest joy stealer there is.
D. Jesus says there are 3 things that steal your joy in the gospel as a Christian. He tells of 3 things that can stop you from becoming a fruitful follower of the word.
1. First, "The cares of this world". People are so caught up in this life that they forget about the next. They worry about their jobs. They worry about their homes. They worry about having enough money to get by. I know people who worry all the time.
i. We all recall what Jesus says in Matthew 6:25-34 so I’ll paraphrase; “Listen; do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear, who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” The Greek word we translate as “worry” or “thought” has the aspect of “being anxious”. When you are anxious, worrying, your mind is focused on the object of that care and not on God.
ii. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says; “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” He is saying, listen, you’re a Christian you don’t need to worry about these things, just leave the worrying to the unbelievers.
iii. Peter tells us 1 Peter 5:7 – “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Cast all your anxiety (your worries, distractions) on Him because He cares for you. Do we believe these verses? We do not always act like it.
2. Jesus tells us the 2nd thing that can stop us from becoming a fruitful follower of the word, "The deceitfulness of riches." The world’s biggest con these days is this, ‘get rich fast and you’ll be happy’. People say if I get that new car, I’ll be happy or if I get a new home I’ll be happy. In 1971 the campaign to have a lottery in Ohio began and succeeded in creating the Ohio lottery in 1973. The last I knew most states now have lotteries with the exception of Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii and Utah.
i. What happened that has caused most states to introduce a form of gambling, a lottery? It happened because there’s a demand. The world that is so commercial, people are lusting after the quick fix answer to their problems. They want a “get rich fast” answer to their problems.
ii. Riches are the fruit of the world. People are being deceived into thinking that material goods are the answer to life. The fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23).
iii. Material goods, wealth, are not the answer to life. John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The only answer to this life is Jesus Christ Himself. If you want answers about this life or the next then you need to look to Jesus, because He is the only one who has the answers.
3. The 3rd thing that stops us from becoming fruitful is, "The pleasures of this life." I believe we all like to have fun. There’s nothing wrong with that but the problem comes when the fun becomes more important than godly living. Also if the fun becomes sinful, then a problem comes in.
i. God has given us the gift of pleasure, which in itself can be innocent but we need to remember that the world’s idea of enjoyment can be totally opposite to God’s idea of enjoyment.
4. These 3 things or these 3 thorns that we have just mentioned are constantly in the environment that we live in everyday. What they do is smother and choke the word of God.
i. Jesus says, the reason that people don’t bear any fruit is because of these thorns. These things look promising. They look like they are going to bear fruit but they never do.
ii. Why? These thorns soak up all the moisture and nutrients that are in the soil. The world ends up with all our attention and God just gets the dregs or whatever is left. We become starved of the truth, which is found in the word of God, and that’s the point.
VI. Finally Jesus says in Mark 4:19-20 – “these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” Jesus says, “This is the soil I’m looking for, this is the kind of response to My words that I’m looking for.”
A. This soil is the total opposite to the 3 other soils mentioned. These are the people whose hearts are soft and tender. They received and cherished the seed, when it was planted. These people soak up the word of God. You’ll find them studying the Bible because they gain strength from it and go on to produce a crop of thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.
B. Jesus summarizes what was just said in Luke 8:15 “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” [para] They can see the world’s riches for what they really are. They guard themselves against worldly pleasures.
C. These people realize that God loves us so much that God wants us to cast all our anxieties onto Him. He cares for us. These people produce much fruit. They are people who are long distance faith runners, who are faithful to the end.
D. It’s to those people who Jesus says about the others in Mark 4:11 – “so that 'seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them” In effect, “Do you want to know a secret?” Don’t be surprised when people don’t want to hear about Jesus. There’s a secret.
1. Don’t be surprised when people become Christians and only last a short time.
2. Don’t be surprised when people look like they are going to be great ambassador’s for Christ but they fall away.
3. The secret is this, don’t give up planting the seed, but persevere, we never know what kind of response we’re going to get. God’s word doesn’t vary but man’s heart does, the soil in which the word is planted does.
4. The nature of the response is dictated by the nature of the heart that receives it.

CONCLUSION:
I wonder how we see ourselves. How is your heart doing today? What will your response be?

If you’re not a Christian, are you going to let God’s word fall from your heart, or are you going to let God help you become a long distance faith runner because you want to know more truths from God’s word?

If you’re a Christian, are you going to continue to let the word of God dwell in you richly, so that you can let God produce much fruit through you, or are you going to go back to the crowd who are not interested in truth?

There’s no mistake folks, we control what does and doesn’t go into our heart. The biggest mistake we can make as Christians after studying His word is to look around us and say, “Yes, I know people who fall into one of those categories”. I know someone who didn’t last long as a Christian”. That’s not the point of the parable.

The point of the parable is to get us to look at ourselves—not around us. Is our heart-felt response to the gospel described in this parable? It’s about you. It’s not about the person sitting next to you. It’s not about the person who isn’t here today. It’s about you. How does it apply to you?

I pray the word fell on good soil. Yet, I know we must take our faith one day at a time because we do not know what tomorrow will bring. We are reminded in 1 Corinthians 10:12 – “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” We must run this race in a constant and deliberate manner. The cares of this world, like weeds in the springtime, will spring up unbidden.

Let’s not judge each other with this parable. Let’s continue to encourage each other to remain faithful to the end and trust in God to help us produce the fruit He requires.

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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.

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Taken from sermon by Mike Glover

The Master Teacher

Posted by Chardon in Mark 4

The Master Teacher

INTRO:
Good evening. What I would like to do for a few lessons is take a look at the parables taught by Jesus. Why the parables? I want to try and understand what a parable is and why Jesus spoke in parables in the first place. Let’s keep that question in mind as we look at scripture today. Just as a reminder if you hear me say anything that is not according to scripture please let me know and we can look at it together. In general I will be using the New King James or the King James Version for reference.

We have all read the directions and the warning labels on things that we buy. Here are some I found interesting.
On a rain gauge: "Suitable for outdoor use.”
On a packet of airline peanuts: "Open and eat contents."
On a chainsaw: "Do not attempt to stop chain with hands."
On a can of air freshener: "For use by trained personnel only."
On a steering-wheel lock: "Remove lock before driving."
On a box of salt: “Warning: High in sodium.”

I guess the point is that even the simple things in life need some explaining at times.
I’ve shared a lot of stories with you all over the years, often to assist in making a point or bringing something to mind, but when it comes to parables and illustrations Jesus will always be the Master teacher.

I have heard it said about some of the things that Jesus spoke; “That is a parable” or “that is not a parable” and I wondered: What is a parable? Looking at Luke 18:1 we see “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,”. Looking up the Greek for that verse I found the word we translate as “parable” is παραβολή parabolḗ, par-ab-ol-ay. Strong defines it as “a similitude”, a placing beside; a comparison; equivalent or something to compare, a likeness.

Some say that a parable is ‘An earthly story with a heavenly meaning’ but really a parable is more than that. One dictionary defines a parable as ‘A short figurative story, designed to convey some truth or moral lesson.’ Another dictionary says ‘A brief story using events or facts of everyday life to illustrate a moral or spiritual truth.’ The blue letter bible includes: “a pithy and instructive saying, involving some likeness or comparison and having perceptive or admonitory force, an aphorism, a maxim, a proverb.

I. As I read all of that, and you will find more, it seems to me that parables come in many different styles and forms and shapes and formats.
A. Let me give you a couple of examples. You may not have thought of these as parables. In Luke 4 for example, after Jesus had been tempted by the devil, He went on the Sabbath Day to the synagogue. When the leaders heard Him read the prophet Isaiah from a scroll they asked in verse 22 “Is not this Joseph's son?” Jesus replied at verse 23, “Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.” Here we have an example of a parable in the form of a ‘proverb’.
B. Another example in Luke chapter 5 is where we find Jesus sharing a parable in the form of a ‘metaphor’ to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. Luke 5:36-39 – “36. Then He spoke a parable to them: "No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old. 37. "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. 38. "But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. 39. "And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.' ''”
C. There are many other forms of parables that Jesus used in His teaching. Jesus used parables as a form of teaching, a tool. It wasn’t the only form of teaching He used but it was definitely a form He used often. Throughout the gospels there are over 30 parables that Jesus spoke. Most people know the parables of Jesus, even non-Christians know some of the parables He used. All of them are “classics” in some form and like I said earlier Jesus was the Master teacher. There’s no getting away from that.
II. Let’s go ahead and let the Master teacher answer our first question. Jesus, why did you speak in parables? We find the answer in Mark 4:10-13 – “10. But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. 11. And He said to them, "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12. "so that 'seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.' '' 13. And He said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?”
A. He said you are given to understand but to those on the outside everything is said in parables. Why? So that, "'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'" Then Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?”
B. His parables were designed to test His hearers, not an intelligence test but a spiritual responsiveness test. That’s what they were designed to do. They were all designed to get a response. However, as Jesus says, if you can’t understand this parable, how will you understand any parable? Of course, here in Mark where we just read, Jesus is teaching the parable of ‘The Seed Sower’. We will look at that in more detail some day.
C. Turn your Bibles to Luke chapter 10. We will use this parable to help us understand some things about all the parables that Jesus taught. We are going to look at it for some foundations. I’ll start with some background.
III. There was a man who was an expert in the Law of Moses and he asked Jesus, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus, the Master teacher does what He usually does and swings it right back and asks the man what he thought the law said concerning eternal life. His answer to Jesus was, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Jesus tells him that he had answered correctly and told him that if he does this he will live.
A. However, we are told this lawyer wanted to justify himself and so he asks Jesus another question, "And who is my neighbor?" The master teacher starts His parable in verse 30 of Luke 10. Luke 10:30 – “Then Jesus answered and said: "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. "Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. "Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. "But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion on him, "and went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. "On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.' "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?''” [NKJV]
B. The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." When Jesus taught, His parables were always spontaneous. He did not have to think about them first and say, “Listen, can you come back next week and I’ll explain what I’m talking about here. I certainly would have.
C. Jesus would give spontaneous answers to people’s questions, and we should too. We should always be truthful with people when they ask us a question. There are times when we honestly must say, “Listen I don’t know the answer to that question right now, but I will get back to you. Then we do need to get back to them.
D. There are some questions that all Christians should always have an answer to. Has anyone ever asked you why you are a Christian? Has anyone ever asked you, why do you believe in God and go to worship every week? I suspect many of us can answer ‘Yes’ to those questions, because as Christians those are the type of questions we should easily be able to answer, even if we don’t know the Scriptures that well. A person doesn’t need to be a Bible scholar to answer them. We don’t need to know all the books of the Bible and all the apostles’ names to answer those questions, but we do need to be able to answer them.
1. 2 Timothy 4:2 says; “Preach the word! Be ready (when are we to be ready?) in season and out of season (i.e. all the time) . Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” We are to correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
2. 1 Peter 3:15 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” Peter doesn’t tell us to have an answer for every question that comes our way. We are to answer for the hope that we have.
3. Folks, whether we have been a Christian for one day or 40 years it makes no difference, we should know why we became a Christian in the first place. It is an important thing for us to keep in mind and I suspect forgetting is the main reason why people fall away from the Lord, why they suddenly stop. Ultimately people fall away because they have forgotten where they came from. They’ve forgotten why they became Christians in the first place. They have forgotten the hope that they had in the very beginning after coming up out of the waters of baptism. They’ve forgotten.
E. Here is something else about Jesus’ parables we need to remember. You see in Luke 10:25 when the law expert asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?"
1. Notice what Jesus does. Jesus swings it back around to him and asks him, “What do you think the Law says?” The lawyer answers in verse 27, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
2. Then the man asked Jesus another question in verse 29, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus went on and told him the parable we call ‘The Good Samaritan’. I say “we call” it the ‘good Samaritan’ because the Bible never does. Please note, Jesus never calls the Samaritan good. Then Jesus asked the man this question in verse 36, "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
3. Every parable had a point or a purpose. That’s why the man answered in verse 37, "The one who had mercy on him." Parables were told to get the listeners to think for themselves. That’s why they’re there. In this scene it is the lawyer who both asks, and answers the questions.
4. Jesus gave parables that were always designed to get a response, a change in attitude or a change in action in those who heard them because they had to have a response. Jesus gets to the point in this parable, and He tells the man, "Go and do likewise."
5. Jesus is saying to that man, “I know you understand how to get eternal life because you answered the question correctly.” Then Jesus tells him the difficult part of the answer, Jesus said “You need to go and do it.” The doing part is the hard part. Jesus wants us to love all people, have mercy on all people, not just those in our family, not just those we like, but all people. Love even those Samaritan people that you can’t stand to be around.
F. Notice in this parable the Law expert never even mentioned the word ‘Samaritan’. Did you notice that? He answers correctly—but he says, “The one who had mercy on him.” We don’t comprehend just how much the Jews hated the Samaritans and this hatred is not to be underestimated. They considered them unclean people. This guy hated them so much he wouldn’t even use the word ‘Samaritan’, never mind call him a neighbor.
1. Remember in John 4 when Jesus is speaking to the woman at the well? After the disciples went away to buy some food, it says in verse 27, “And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, "What do You seek?'' or, "Why are You talking with her?''” We might wonder why the disciples were surprised, and why did they marvel. Not just because Jesus was talking to a woman but because He was speaking to a Samaritan woman.
2. Even she was surprised when Jesus, a Jew, was willing to speak to her, a Samaritan. That’s why she said to Jesus in John 4:9 – “"How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?'' (then John is being polite here says) For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” The Jews hated the Samaritans.
G. In some ways this dates back to the days of Jacob. Joseph was despised by his brothers and they attempted to do away with him. God intervened. Then before his death Jacob gave Joseph a blessing in which he calls him “a fruitful bough by a well” (Genesis 49:22). The tribes of Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh were allotted the fertile land that eventually became Samaria. In about 722 BC Assyria conquered Northern Israel and took many people into captivity, resettling the land with foreigners, Gentiles. Around 600 BC the southern kingdom fell to Babylon and about 70 years later the remnant were allowed to return to rebuild Jerusalem. The Samaritans, a combination of Gentiles and those of the Northern Kingdom, opposed this repatriation of the south and tried to undermine it while the southern repatriates detested the mixed marriages and corrupt worship of their northern cousins.
1. This man’s answer to Jesus must have hurt his Jewish pride so much that he couldn’t even say the word ‘Samaritan’. To get the full import of this it helps us to understand what the parable meant to those who first heard it.
2. We need to be careful because some people have become experts at making every little detail, every little verse mean something in a parable. People try to dig more out of it. For example people will say that the priest and the Levite couldn’t help the man because of religious reasons. They will try and find out who the robbers were and who the robbers stood for. It’s like the man who said to his friend, “Do you see that forest over there?” His friend said, “What forest? I can’t see anything but trees.” We understand people can get tangled up so much in the text that sometimes they fail to see the point. Sometimes we do try to get a point from every little detail; and in the end miss the main point.
H. We forget to ask the question, what did it mean to those who were listening? That should be our first approach.
1. When Jesus was telling this man the parable; does it say the man listened and then though to himself, who’s the man who was robbed? Who were the robbers? He didn’t do any of that. Why? He knew exactly what Jesus was talking about. The lawyer had lost clear sight the Law because of traditions. The lawyer was just like the Priests and the Levites. They paid lip service to the Law. They forgot what God said to Moses in Exodus 33:19 “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” [para] Mercy? To a Samaritan? That would have been the last thing in that Jewish man’s mind. By the time Jesus had finished, the expert in the law knew that Jesus was saying to him, “I don’t want lip service, I don’t want sacrifice.”
2. What did Jesus really want him to understand? Matthew 23:23 this is one of those verses that we all remember. "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” That’s what the parable is about. It was about the Jews getting rid of their racist attitude towards the Samaritans, toward the Gentiles and instead of treating others like some piece of dirt, outcasts, they should treat everyone justly and with mercy.
3. It’s about loving your neighbor as you love the Lord and yourself. The Samaritan did exactly what the priest and the Levite should have done. The Samaritan did what the lawyer now needs to go and do. In other words he needs to practice what he preaches, what he just said in his answer.
IV. Not all parables seem to apply to us today but we can still learn many lessons from them. After all they are the very words of Jesus, written in scriptures and as we all know “All Scripture is God breathed”, 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that.
A. Now that we understand what the parable meant to that lawyer, we can now go on and see what we can learn from it ourselves. The lawyer only asked Jesus the question, “Who is my neighbor?” for one reason. Luke 10:29 “He wanted to justify himself.”
1. In other words, he wanted to make himself out to be blameless. He wanted people to look at him and see a good Jewish citizen doing what he should be doing. What Jesus did in the form of this parable was to get him to look at himself. That the lawyer could see his own sinfulness, and see just how far from the Law he really was.
2. I suspect we can become experts in justification, can’t we? When it comes to justifying ourselves of sin, justifying what we think or what we want to do, we have all become experts. We pick a position and then we justify that position. That’s because we tend to have different standards about what God’s Word says. In other words we can all give a good reason for doing something we shouldn’t be doing. Or in the case of the lawyer, not doing something he should have been doing.
B. Sin isn’t just about the things that you shouldn’t do like gossiping and drunkenness. Sin is also not doing the things that you should be doing.
1. Let’s look at that. James gives us an example in James 2:2-5 – “2. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3. and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place,'' and say to the poor man, "You stand there,'' or, "Sit here at my footstool,'' 4. have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5. Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”
2. In other words if someone came into our meeting place who was dressed all scruffy, unshaven and probably lacked having a bath for a few weeks, are we going to love them or treat them any different from those who came in well dressed? Or as James asks, “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” They may be poor in the world’s eyes but they may be richer in faith than we are. You don’t know.
3. Poor people have as much right to enter the kingdom of heaven as anyone. Test yourself – when you see people, mentally ask; Do they deserve to hear the gospel?
C. If we ever answer ‘No’ to that question, then we need to take a good hard look at our self and see just how far we have come from the standard we find in God’s Word. Take it one step further now, and imagine the situation James puts forward. If two people came into our worship assembly and one of them was well dressed and the other one wasn’t, which one would you invite to your home for dinner? I’m certain we would all talk to both of them. We wouldn’t have a problem with that, but which one would you take home to get to know a little better?
1. The lawyer had to learn to treat all people the same, whether they were a Jew or Samaritan, Jew or Gentile, because the Gospel is not just about believing, is it? It’s about doing. It’s about doing for one what you would do for another. If you don’t do that, then that is sin in God’s eyes.
D. I’m going to give you another example from James. You probably know this in James 2:15-17 – “15. If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16. and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,'' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17. Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” It’s all very well standing up here and talking about the needy. It’s all very well having our after worship chats about those in need. If we just talk the talk and don’t walk the walk, we’re sinning. We are not living as Christians, trying to follow the example Jesus gave us. Unfortunately we sometimes try and justify ourselves just like the lawyer did and say things like, “Well, I’m kind of busy to stop and help that person sitting homeless in the street.”
1. If you see a brother or sister in need “I can’t invite them in to eat today because I need to get to church on time, I’m reading or serving today.” Are we not justifying ourselves? That’s what the priest and the Levite did in the story. They were going somewhere, but guess what, so was the Samaritan. The only difference was that the Samaritan stopped to help.
2. We can stop and help people; we can stop and share the gospel with people because wherever we are going can wait. How long does it take to give a hungry person a couple of bucks to buy a sandwich? You may not be able to stay long with them but you can arrange to catch up with them again later. Even a few words can serve to hold the door open.
3. That’s what the Samaritan did. Luke 10:35 - “"On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.'” He didn’t just help the man and then leave him. He went back to make sure he was OK.
E. Let’s not make excuses for not helping people and try to justify ourselves in the process. Let’s practice what we preach because we love our Lord and we do try to show our neighbors how much we love them.
V. Perhaps the real question the lawyer should have asked Jesus was this; “Master, how do I love my neighbor?” He didn’t ask that, he asked, “Who is my neighbor?” We too often say things to get an answer which will remove us from the necessity of doing anything. We should be asking the question that the lawyer should have asked. Jesus, how do we love our neighbors?
A. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:6 – “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Faith with legs attached. We love our neighbors by helping our neighbors with the love the Lord has shown to us.
B. Thinking about that, what about those who aren’t Christians today? Do they deserve to hear the gospel? Or are we going to say, “I wish you well; keep safe and best of luck for getting into heaven.” Is that what we’re going to do?

CONCLUSION:
If there are any of you who aren’t Christians today, there is good news. You are surrounded by a bunch of people who have heard that good news and have responded to that good news. We are ready to share with you why we became Christians in the first place and share our hope with you.

We have those answers and are ready to give you an answer to the hope that lies within us; all you have to do is ask any of them. When they tell you why they became Christians, they will tell you how you too can become a Christian by being obedient to the Gospel of Christ.

The parables of Christ separated people. Did you know that? Those who wanted to know the truth and those who didn’t want to know the truth. The truth is this, if you turn to God and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and if you confess Jesus as Lord of your life and are immersed for the forgiveness of your sins then you will receive God’s promised Holy Spirit to dwell within you.

The Holy Spirit acts as a deposit, guaranteeing your entry into heaven, if you remain faithful to Him and His word for the rest of your life. He’s not looking for perfection as we understand perfection. What He is looking for is faithfulness.

We need to ask people today; what can I do for you? I hope and pray that we ask Jesus; how do we love our neighbor? That’s the right question that should have been asked here.

We are about to sing the song of invitation. If you are not a Christian, we with all our heart, plead with you to make a decision for Christ today. To decide to be His child, step out in faith and be baptized in water for the forgiveness of sin. That faith becomes access to the grace of God, made possible by the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We believe in that and we rest our hope in that blood.

We invite anyone who has that need or any other need to come forward while we stand and while we sing.

Invitation song: ???

Reference sermon: Mike Glover

How Much Is It Worth?

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag, Mark 4

HOW MUCH IS IT WORTH
Mark 4: 1 – 20

We’re going to be in Mark 4 this morning.
What I want you to keep in mind as we read Mark 4 this morning is that Jesus is teaching a kingdom principle. And the people he’s talking to on the shoreline – a lot of them are farmers. They will understand the parable of the Seed very quickly.
A old time minister made a trip to Israel a couple years ago, and one of the places he visited was Jesus’ childhood hometown - Nazareth. On the outskirts of modern Nazareth they found (and rebuilt) an ancient watch tower. In addition they added a model of a traditional home of the era, plus a workshop and other buildings that would have existed in days of Jesus. But what caught his attention was the remnants of some ancient farmland.
If you were fortunate enough back then to have inherited “bottom land” down in the valley you might become a wealthy man. But this section of Nazareth was built into the hillside and had “terraced” farms. People in this area only had “farms that were little bigger than a good-sized garden.
This land had a mixture of shallow ground where there was rock just about an inch under the soil, as well as some sections where the ground was fertile and would yield a good crop. Seemingly everywhere there were a fair amount of weeds and though you might pull a lot of them... there’d still be a fair amount still growing alongside the crops. In addition, the owner would access his particular plot by a path that ran between his land and his neighbor’s.
Now, with the right tools, you MIGHT be able to make ALL the ground useful. But Nazareth was a poor community with limited resources, so farmers did what they could with what they had. As a result, the “farmers” threw their seed everywhere, hoping some of it would grow. Their land was precious (since there wasn’t much of it), but the seed was comparatively cheap.
So as Jesus told the parable, he described the four types of ground every farmer had to deal with. Only a ¼ of the ground was useful – and it was apparently hard to tell which land would be fertile, and which was not. But the fertile land would give a high yield and was worth the trouble.
And when you think about the parable of the Seed, when Jesus describes what happens to the Seed, he’s describing what happens to it in real life.
Mark 4:Verse (3) Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:
“Hearken” and “Behold” – he’s using two Words to communicate that whatever you are doing you need to stop right now and listen to what I’m about to say. Pay attention.
Notice also that the sower “went out”. This was a purposeful decision. What is my point? When it comes to sowing the Word, it’s not something we do haphazardly. We do it on purpose. And when you do something on purpose you make time for it. It’s not a passing fancy. You make time because you are doing it for a reason.
(4) And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

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