Mark: Day 3

Parables

by

Today's Text: Mark 4:1-41, Amos 4:13

Text: Mark 4:1-41, Amos 4:13

My childhood house is on the market. (It still feels weird to say it.) On my favorite mountain, yes. On the street lined with elm trees, certainly. On school bus 24’s route, always. But on the market—for sale, like a cup of lemonade from the neighbor’s kid? No, thank you.

This is probably why homeowners aren’t invited to the Open House. It would just be too hard to let go. Still, I can’t help but want to give prospective buyers some helpful hints as to how to live in the house. Perhaps, I’d offer them a sticky note tour.

Welcome to our—er, potentially your—new home! I’d write. Don’t worry about taking off your shoes; the puppy’s ruined the carpet already anyway.

Here’s where we keep the plates. Silverware can be found in the drawer on the left, and the trash can’s under the sink.

My dad stoned in that fireplace the summer before I started high school, and my mom made the quilt draped over the couch the summer I graduated college.

Make sure you leave this door open for the cat, and help yourself to snacks. (I hide the chocolate in the top right cabinet.) Keep the front door closed so you don’t let the raccoons in! (I’m serious.)

It’s then that I realize what I’ve tried so hard to forget: the house they’ll be moving into won’t have snacks or cats or hand-me-down china or my mother’s quilts. They won’t be joining my family in the house. After we move out, the sticky notes won’t make any sense.

Initially, some of Jesus’ parables don’t make much sense either. As He talks about sowing and mustard seeds, I imagine the onlookers wondering how in the world any of it applied to faith. So, why did Jesus tell parables? Was He making His lessons easier to comprehend? Was He avoiding complicated theology? No, Jesus was actually choosing to not let them understand.

“To those outside, everything comes in parables so that they may look and look, yet not perceive; they may listen and listen, yet not understand; otherwise, they might turn back—and be forgiven.”
Mark 4:11-12

Jesus’ instructions were meant for those living in His house—His Father’s house, the Kingdom of God. The secret of the Kingdom God isn’t a story or an equation, but a person. And a story without Him, the main character, isn’t a story, but a parable.

When listeners don’t see Jesus as the entrance to the Kingdom, or are out to manipulate His words, He creates a fence around His house by telling a parable. Jesus proves that you don’t arrive at the Truth by becoming smarter, wealthier, or more important; you find Truth by following Him to His house!

As for His disciples, Christ never leaves them hanging. He’s always willing to explain the parables when asked and reassure them with Truth. Privately, He would explain everything to them (Mark 4:10). The Harvest has come. It is Me. I am here. Do not fear.

As Christ’s followers, we get to live in that house with a protective fence and no need for sticky notes because we have His Word, filled with all we’ll ever need know. Thanks be to God!

“He is here: the One who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals His thoughts to man, the One who makes the dawn out of darkness and strides on the heights of the earth.
Yahweh, the God of Hosts, is His name.”
—Amos 4:13

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  • Where’s Matthew 3?

  • love today’s lesson, and especially love Amos 4:13. What a beautiful verse. He reveals His thoughts to man!

  • “To those outside, everything comes in parables so that they may look and look, yet not perceive; they may listen and listen, yet not understand; otherwise, they might turn back—and be forgiven.”. This has always bothered me. But after reading this today it makes perfect sense. The truths in the Word are for those whose hearts are open to receiving it. Who follow Jesus to his house and who walk with him daily. It’s by his Grace that I’m given such a knowledge!

  • ❤ this. Our youth pastor just did a message on the fact that you don’t have to have head knowledge to be saved. Yes,it’s important to know the Word & memorize verses, but those things aren’t going to make Jesus more pleased with you. It’s not what Jesus ultimately calls us to do. He calls us to believe, just like Kaitlin said in this post. ❤❤

    • Dani

      Yes! The thief on the cross never had any “Scripture knowledge” a day in his life, yet he resides with Jesus in Paradise! <3

  • Christina Gandy

    Today’s reading is a great reminder I need to be willing to listen to Jesus. There are times when my eyes and ears shut. I am a human being. Thank goodness for forgiveness. -Amen.

  • When my youngest, now 26, we watched, watched a film where a kid was kidnapped, I remember him nuzzling up and saying ..I won’t get kidnapped will I? I remember saying no he wouldn’t, but should he, we ought to have a plan…so we made up a code that would be ours,(lol) should something like that occur..(as if) I would say, I love you, and he would say, I love you too, I would then say almost immediately, I love you 3…this would go on to the number 11. Not 10, 9, or 12, but 11. We chuckled and laughed as we affirmed our love for each other…but our mother son mentality was that we loved each other for always, but if an imposter were to be involved they would get bored after a while and we would know not to entertain them… (this was just something to alleviate the little guys fear and to know I would always be there for him…
    But God…oh But God…
    If I, sinner, mere mortal, had that kind of mentality even back then, how much more the Almighty, Creator of all…Absolutely, and perfect lover of all…

    So so very thankful for His truth. His way. His life…
    Thank you Lord God…Thank you..

    Blessings dear Sisters..xx

  • Josefina

    Mmmm this was absolutely perfect for my heart. I love how she says Jesus proves that you don’t arrive at the Truth by becoming smarter, wealthier, or more important; you find Truth by following Him to His house!
    We get so wrapped up in these temporal, earthly matters, somethings neglecting the TRUTH & that all He wants from us is To Follow Him.

  • Sarah D.

    Hi all, prayer request please. My family and I are in Hawaii and it’s been great, but there were some arguments today that made me cry. My mom and sister don’t really have the best relationship, and it just seems like everyone is angry over silly things. I hate it when this happens. I wish we could get along all the time. Then my dad got all mad at me for having “attitude”, even though I was just really shocked at the anger and why he was putting it on me. Can you please pray that this stops and that we can enjoy our last days here. Please pray that God would give us his peace and remind us of his love and our love for each other. Thanks friends.

    • Dina

      I know exactly what that’s like. I’m praying for you!

      • Amanda

        Absolutely!

        Sarah, I have completely been there. I felt like I was being torn in two, and that I couldn’t do anything.

        I am praying that the Lord consistently has His hand in your family and that the devil has no foothold in your family or your life!

        You’re in my prayers sister :)

    • TGBTG

      Sarah, I hope by now things have calmed down and resolved with forgiveness and kindness. Prayers to you and your family.

    • Churchmouse

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  • Holly Mashburn

    Loving today’s reminder to not be afraid!

  • Nicola L

    The seed which fell on rocky ground grew up quickly. Initially it looked like the right result. Nowhere else was producing a crop yet and so any passing observer would notice this as the right place to grow.
    The seed in deep good soil came later, with secure roots, and multiples of harvest.
    This is talking to me about what God may know in secret. My eyes would rush to the quick crop, but God would tell me to wait. Wait on the soil and what is growing beneath. He knows the right crop, the best place to grow.

    • Lesley

      This is a great insight. Thanks for sharing. It’s true that while it’s easy to judge by visible results, God is often doing his deepest work beneath the surface where it’s not immediately obvious.

    • Nads

      I’ve never thought of that…God bless you.

  • The Kingdom of God is like a house. You have to go through the Door to see what’s inside. EVERYONE is invited in to sup at the Lord’s table, but unless you choose to open the Door and join the Host and His family, you don’t get to be a part of the conversation, the celebration, the meal. All you need to do is walk through the Door. Please join us.

  • Great analogy and it helps clarify why Jesus didn’t share stories that everyone could understand. And I am grateful though that He has clarified them for us that put our entire trust in Him.

  • Jeanette Morelan

    Really glad you chose to highlight that verse, because it was one thing that was troubling me (why would Jesus make himself inaccessible when He came to save the world?) But you’re right—a lot of the people around him just wanted him for his wisdom or miracles. He desires relationship. You can’t have one without the other.

  • Caroline

    I love the analogy used here! What truth that we all get to live in his house, always. I love this reminder that we are always at home when we are with him!

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  • Thank you for clarifying Mark 4:11-12. That has always bothered me. “Jesus was actually choosing to not let them understand.” “When listeners don’t see Jesus as the entrance to the Kingdom, or are out to manipulate His words, He creates a fence around His house by telling a parable.” There is only one Door to His house. (John 10:1)

  • As I look back on my life so far, I can clearly see how many times I’ve been brought out onto the sea, in a boat with my Savior by my side, and the storm begins to rage. I get scared, I get frustrated and angry, mostly at God and myself, and I am faced with that very same question. “Why are you fearful? Don’t you have faith?” I can then choose to trust my God, my refuge. Or I can choose to exhaust myself trying to brave the storm on my own – furiously tossing buckets of water back out into sea, which leaves me even more scared and angry.
    I worked at a bank for 4 years, and I knew for 4 years that it wasn’t the job for me. It was a toxic place for someone like me, yet I stayed because of financial fear and insecurity. My Father brought me to a place of desperation and misery. It was quite the storm. So that I may look to Him, to take my fear and to trust. I gave my notice, not knowing what was going to happen, but saying, “I am scared, but I know who is faithful.” Three weeks later, I have 2 part-time jobs, working with children who need extra love and care. The Lord is ever faithful!

  • Jennifer W.

    When I read the Mark 4:40 it really stood out in my heart- “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” I’ve always felt ashamed when I read that verse, because I struggle with fear in anxiety. It is somewhat affected by my diet (I cut out sugar and white flour and am MUCH better), but it is also a generational sin passed down from my mother. Today, as I read that passage and my mind took me out on the Sea of Galilee where I have had the opportunity to set sail a couple of times, I saw Jesus asking this question with a smile of expectation. He knows that I don’t have faith yet that completely overcomes my fear, but He knows that He is developing that in me. He knows that His continued faithfulness and His Spirit’s work in my heart is transforming someone who could be drowning and paralyzed by fear and anxiety into someone who sees a storm coming and looks up at her Savior, not in panic but expectation. He is so patient and kind. He calms the storm, even when my faith isn’t perfected, and invites me to trust Him further.

    • C Gunckel

      I am facing many fearful things in my husband’s and my future with his health. Thank you for your post today.

  • Christine

    The soil… What kind of soil are you? I just found out that a dear friend of mine who passed away in 2008 had given her life to Christ months before she passed. We were addicts. The seed was sown into both of us, but only one of us is here. It gives me such peace to know that she was saved and I will see her again in eternity… She wasn’t ready to hear though. I have to think she was the first soil, the one Satan came and snatched away the seed. That’s what addiction does to you. So what was different about me? It makes me sad and angry and so grateful all at once. The Lord is faithful. I just need to keep showing up.

    • julie

      And so thankful he never gives up on us!

    • RoseBergamot

      Wow! Yes, those are hard questions. I have so many questions like this for Jesus when I see him. Why things happen the way that they do is a mystery but he has plans for you. She gets to be with him, perhaps he knew that she needed to be with him now. Perhaps there is some other reason. These are the tough parts about trusting. Praying for you! ❤️

    • RoseBergamot

      I am at least the third generation to struggle with mood disorder (anxiety, etc.) I know that Jesus took all the curses upon him at the cross. I keep resting in that. I am not a slave to fear. I feel it but it’s control over my life is broken. It’s a daily recommitment to walking in that. Yesterday I had another awful panic attack so I had to start again. Trust again. Get closer and walk closer with him. It starts with thoughts for those of us who struggle so I try to keep my thoughts in check. I read his word and pray that he makes my mind and heart good soil. That I might be able to be fruitful for him.

      • RoseBergamot

        Sorry that second reply was for the person struggling with anxiety. Sorry.

      • Kristin Erickson

        Thank you for sharing your story! It helps to hear I’m not alone. I struggle with anxiety and always living in a place of fear, thank you for the reminder that it is a daily recommitment to Christ and his word. Xx

  • Prayed for you Kellie- may His peace be a blessing to you today!

  • Becky Kuiper

    Thank you for this devotional today. I struggle with Jesus constantly cloaking his teaching from people who NEED to understand it. This writing helped me to understand that it really is up to the hearer whether or not they understand….that Jesus would always want us to understand. If we have our eyes on Him, we will understand his teaching, but that has to come first.

  • Praying “peace, be still” over my anxious thoughts and worried heart this morning as I start a new job in a big city! Will you pray with me that the Lord would open the eyes and ears of those around me to see Him working in and through me? ❤️

  • Sara Beth

    I read a commentary along side my bible this morning. This statement struck me, “when you read this parable don’t think you’re automatically always the one who has the good soil and the abundant fruit. On any given day, in any given week, this can change. We don’t remain in the same spot. This parable speaks to all of us, depending upon the current condition of our hearts.” This never occurred to me before, as I always believed I had the good soil. I clearly recall times when I was hurting, and someone dear to me would give me scripture. In my pain I would reject it not thinking at the time this is what Jesus was referring to. It’s the same word I read every morning, but I didnt have ears to hear. This is such a wake up call to me.

    • Melea

      Whoa. That never occurred to me either. I have done the same. I needed the wake up call as well. Thanks!

    • Emily

      That’s what stood out to me as well. I used to think of myself as the good soil, but now realize I’ve been all the different kinds of soil at different times in my life. Something good to reflect on and ask yourself what kind of soil are you today?

    • Stacey

      I heard a sermon one time that was titled “Don’t Assume You Are the Good Soil”, and the main point was exactly what your commentary said. That has stuck with me throughout the years, and has helped me to not think just because I am a Christian and bearing fruit, that I am the good soil. But sometimes, I need the reminder.

    • RoseBergamot

      That did not occur to me either! Thanks!

  • Alice Carroll

    I’ve never realised before that the part in the boat was also to show them that they couldn’t survive without Jesus – they needed Him to understand, they needed Him to be safe. I’ve sometimes said ‘don’t You care that I’m perishing?’ and not thought that this is exactly the point!

  • Churchmouse

    “The ones sown on good ground are those who hear the Word, welcome it and produce a crop : 30, 60 and 100 times what was sown.” Wouldn’t you think that the crop, if down in such good soil, would always produce 100 times? Yet, sometimes the yield is only 30 or 60 times as much. Perhaps the point is not to focus on the end result, but to focus on abiding in the rich soil, hearing the Word and leaving the results to Him.

  • “He is here…” What more do we need? He is here , to protect, assist, teach, show, direct, guide, forgive and love us. We are blessed.

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