Being Hearers

Being Hearers: Mark 4:21-25
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday April 5, 2020

I want us to come to the passage today knowing that while it wasn’t written TO us, it’s relevant for us.

It came to Israel, a nation who was to be a missional community to be a blessing and a light to the world around them. This is not the first time Jesus has told this parable, in fact in Matthew 5, the Beatitudes which is dense with important truth and revelation about God, Jesus tells it there too.

Catch the context, just after saying all they ways believers are blessed when they live out the character of God in all these ways (Matthew 5:3-11) he says blessed are you when people insult you, or persecute you falsely, and say evil about you…

Almost like He is preempting the reaction to living out God’s character… but Jesus they’ll take advantage of us, blessed are you when people insult you.

So, I want us to do two things:

Dive in and be better “hearers this week”
Know that I’m responsible for the message, not the reaction

Here is Jesus parable after saying, live the character of God, and don’t worry about the persecution, he says be salt, be drawing because….

Matthew 5:14–16 (ESV)
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Where in this portion of Jesus ministry where he is in Galilee, revealing His identity by what He does, He’s telling parables of truth about the Kingdom of God, these parables are interesting because they’re a teaching tool, and an obscuring tool. They help me understand, but they make me think and they cause me to concentrate.

They give us opportunity to be better hearers, and when we do, and when the message sinks in, to carry that message into our spheres of influence and in our own ways.

With that said, lets get to Jesus today in Mark:

Mark 4:21–25 (ESV)
A Lamp Under a Basket
21 And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand?

22 For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.

23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

The lamp here would be an oil filled pot with a wick in it, brought into the room it would light it. You could perhaps see your friends and family’s faces, you could see what you were eating or maybe what you were working on with you hands. It’s light – however, remembering that this is to a very Jewish people, with an OT mindset, the lamp would be symbolic of God or for the messiah; there is some word play that Jesus uses here in Mark 4:21 where he effectively says the lamp comes into the room, not that it’s brought, the lamp is the subject not the object; so Jesus is saying to this private group of people, if I’m the light brought into your room and into the world, in your spheres, and provide light to the people Mark 1:38, to preaching is why Jesus came. Just like any other lamp, you shouldn’t expect that light that radiates off (the whole purpose of the lamp) would be obscured.

Mark 1:38 (ESV)

38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”

The lamp, the light of God, the truth of scripture, and the truth of Jesus as messiah to the world, it’s not to be hidden.

I work on a committee for the Baptist association of Pennsylvania and South New Jersey, and we were talking about something – I don’t even remember what. We were talking about the temptation to obscure some truth about God so that perhaps people would be willing to come closer. In doing so, we dull truth, and we dull people’s expectation.

Seemingly well meaning Christians would build a church that doesn’t talk openly about the areas where God’s word would maybe rub them the wrong way. Or, some churches have even opted NOT to teach from scripture, but tell people how to have a better live based loosely (presumably) on principles from the Bible. Effectively saying, I’ve got a great looking basket to place over this light – it’s really good looking though, so you should like it. Does it block the light, yes – but it’s really neat.

Pointless, right? I think so, I think our job as believers is to bring people TO the light, the truth about God. Will it rub us wrong sometimes, ummm YES. That’s the whole point actually.

Read this with me quickly,

Ephesians 6:14–18 (ESV)
The Whole Armor of God
14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Note, the only offensive weapon in the list here is, the sword of the Spirit – and what is that sword of the spirit… the word of God, and what is the word of God, scripture. If you walk up to someone swinging a sword around what is it going to do, tickle? Make you giggle? No, that sucker is going to cut you and open you up; and that is the word of God, the light of truth – it reveals things.

But much like a surgeons scalpel which cuts, it opens us up with an aim to fix us wholly.

How does it fix us?

I’m so very glad you asked…

By allowing us to see that next to the light of God and the truth about who He is, perfect love, perfect character, grace and peace – we’re so far from those things. Then, as we come to realize the depth of sin impacts every ounce of us; God’s gospel in Jesus which simply says, exchange your unrighteousness for my righteousness, I lived perfectly and suffered for sin simply to bring you to God fully and forever.

Add nothing to that, Jesus life was lived to bring the light of God into the world. He lived in all ways as God would the fullness of God’s character:

Hebrews 2:10 (ESV)
10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.

At this point, if we go back to our chart, mark chart, we can see a timeline of this book – what’s coming is sacrifice and His live given over – He’s pressing forward and here preparing His disciples to expect this and to join Him in making truth known.

Jesus continues:

24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.

25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

What we do here in how we understand this is so very important. The measures can be confusing – it can feel like tit for tat, like a back room deal, you give me an ounce of faith and I’ll give you an ounce of the kingdom of God. That understanding can become a works based salvation.

One rule for understanding scripture is to understand the less clear in light of the more clear –

That said, lets read,

Ephesians 2:9 (ESV)
9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

So, our salvation is not something we work for and earn. There for what’s “added to you” is not a degree of salvation, or a degree of grace, or a degree of salvation; rather the message here in these parables is about hearing.

I have a hard time hearing in loud places and listening to someone, so group dinners are really tough for me, but when I listen to someone in a restaurant – I really listen. You know why, because it’s with the intensity of a million suns that I’m listening, so I can simply hear – and by so intently straining to listen, I really what that one person is saying, I’m filtering out everyone and everything else, and I’m listening to you.

Jesus parables force that too – you have to say OK wait, let me double back and get that, let me really think about that. When we hear WITH FAITH more is given to us.

Here is how that works in your life as you give time to scripture and listen to it, to really hear it, when you study it and get it, and you’ll be finding ways to apply it, whether it’s living out a principal or sharing what your learning, more will be given to you. It’s a snowball – but you have to get it rolling, to really experience it and that’s what Jesus is saying, pay attention to what you hear – if you use it by hearing in faith, you’ll get more and more.

Does that get you excited? I hope so – what did you “hear” today in the parable?

Lets double back, I said lets do two things this week:

Dive in and be better “hearers this week”
Know that I’m responsible for the message, not the reaction

Be better hearers, maybe you were distracted some this week, maybe you’re washing the dishes and listening or vacuuming, playing candy crush or taking a pic of yourself and tagging it on snapchat. I want to encourage this – set this hour aside, don’t let being home on quarantine distract your “hearing” – this is where we study the scriptures each week. Make it both the pinnacle and the start of your week.

Gather together, Bible in hand, expecting to hear from God as we study! This week do 2 things: continue hearing, keep reading this section of scripture and study it.

Know that you’re responsible for the message not the reaction. Jesus is the light, his message is his message, and the sword is the sword.

Each of us has different sets of friends, and personalities, and circles of people we interact within, that’s great – that’s part of God’s plan. We’re not supposed to make a weird cult where we just hang out, in fact, part of what’s so weird and great about our Sunday gatherings is that people should look and say what kind of weirdness is going on there – what an odd gathering of people! Why on EARTH would that group of people get together weekly and love one another! BOOM – exactly, God. His word, and His glory – His word.

People so often say what the church should be doing – I don’t agree. I think people want to be part of an organization that’s do-gooding, then they feel like they’re doing well – rather, Jesus said, carry my message into the world, don’t hide it. In the same way Israel was to bring the truth into the nations, we’re to do the same, and that starts with the people we naturally hang out with.

As you’re hearing in faith, share that with people you know. The more you listen to really hear, the more you’re gong to learn and the more your going to be able to share, the more of the light you’ll get and give away!

I want us to come to the passage today knowing that while it wasn’t written TO us, it’s relevant for us. Don’t let being home on quarantine distract your “hearing” don’t hide truth under good-looking baskets – if you believe it you’ll share it, because it’s truth – so listen here in faith,, and go and share!

Here are 6 ways you can bring light this week into your spheres and “hear” better:

  1. Share the Church live stream to you facebook wall
  2. Start a “watch party” around the church facebook church service
  3. As you “hear” and re-read the passages this week, share on your facebook, twitter, instagram, whatever
  4. Read ahead for next week, we’ll be in Mark 4:26-29 next week, share from that reading with peoples
  5. Interact together about the study this week
  6. Join Sunday school next week

Mark 4:26-29 (ESV)
The Parable of the Seed Growing
26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.

27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.

28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.

29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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