Mark 4:21-29 – “The Kingdom of Heaven = the Church = the people of God = disciples of Jesus Christ”

Mark 4:21-29 – “The Kingdom of Heaven = the Church = the people of God = disciples of Jesus Christ” December 16, 2016

Tree Planted by RiverMark 4:21-29

Today, Jesus continues His teaching on how the Kingdom grows, which is to say the process of discipleship. The secret to the Kingdom of God and its mysterious and wonderful growth is the growth of the Church, which is to say the growth of Christians, which is to say discipleship:

“The Kingdom of Heaven = the Church = the people of God  = disciples of Jesus Christ”

I think that sometimes we misunderstand Jesus’ words: “With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Often we take this to mean that if you judge other people, you will be judged by God. But in this passage the meaning is related to the parable of the sower and the seed, our response to God’s Word, and the fruits of how well we do this. Jesus prefaces this teaching with “Take heed what you hear.”

Spiritually speaking, in the Kingdom of Heaven, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This is why Jesus says, “For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” Jesus is teaching us a spiritual truth about how well we receive Him and His Word.  Those who respond in faith when they hear the Word of God – those who believe and obey – will be rewarded with greater grace and faith in their lives. Those who have heard the Word of God and either do not believe or do not obey will begin to grow farther away from God.

Jesus teaches this in many different forms. “Draw near to me, and I will draw near to me.” The corollary, of course, is “Run far away from me, and I will be far away from you.” If you have proven faithful with a few small things you will be entrusted with more (this is also the meaning of the parable of the talents).

As a preacher, I have seen this spiritual truth in action many times. After I have preached a strong sermon on the cost of discipleship and what God is really calling us to, the responses of people afterwards are very revealing. Many times, those who I know have already put the words I preached into effect and are truly saints before God and men come up to me after the service. They come with a look of great intensity, as if they have just met with God and are trembling before His holy presence. And they tell me, “That sermon really convicted me. God really spoke to my heart. It’s just what I needed to hear.” After the same sermon, as some pass by who I know really needed to hear the sermon, they pass by with a casual greeting or perhaps exit the other way. There is no recognition that God has just spoken to them.

It was the same sermon, the same Word of God, and yet people responded very differently.

What if this same pattern were repeated Sunday after Sunday, day after day, and year after year? You would find that at the end of life those who were rich in faith became fabulously rich by the end of their lives. But those who were poor in faith died paupers in the faith.

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

Jesus repeats this again from verse 9 because the Word of God is worth listening to – because God is worth listening to.

Remember: how you treat the Word of God is how you are treating God Himself.

For this reason, those who worship God in Spirit and in Truth by hearing and obeying His Word will be blessed by Him. In other words, those who seek God Himself will be blessed by receiving more of God.

But those who do not hear and do not obey God will not receive the blessing of God. That is, those who do not seek God will not find Him and will not receive more of Him.

“Take heed what you hear.” When the Word of God comes to you, do you hear it as the Word of God, or do you hear “Blah, blah, blah . . .”? “For whoever has, to him more will be given, but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

I am always amazed at what young people are capable of doing when they pursue one thing for many years with great passion and perseverance. It is embarrassing to try to sit down and play computer games with most young people. Through hours and hours of practice, and year after year of pursuing the goal of excellence at playing computer games, some young people are so adept that they seem like wizards. They are so fast and intuitive that they seem like a stealth fighter in combat with a Sopwith Camel.

When the same young people pursue knowledge, the results are even more spectacular. My son Calvin’s fascination at age 2 with tying anything within reach together with strings or laces or rubber bands became in time a curiosity about cause and effect and tying together the most unusual things in this universe. Given time, such a mind may grow and be transformed into a lover of science that results in an advanced degree and discoveries that astound us all and make the world a more glorious place. In others, such a passionate and persistent curiosity has led to Ph.Ds and Nobel Prizes and cures for diseases and technologies that turn Star Trek into reality.

But what if a man, woman, or child pursued God relentlessly? What if every day of his life, Calvin learned to love God and His Word and devoted Himself to following God, forsaking everything else, and obeying all that the Lord commanded? I can’t predict the exact outcome, but I do know that in God’s Kingdom, he would be incredibly rich because God’s blessing would rest upon him.

Einstein reputedly said that the most powerful force in the universe was compound interest. This is especially true in the Kingdom of God, which is like a seed that the sower planted and which grows and grows until it produces 100-fold, if the soil is good.

Take heed what you hear: for how well you hear is a measure of how faithful you are and how much God will bless you and the people around you.

Prayer:  Father, I ask that today You would give me the grace to seek after You with all my heart. Help me to take heed to what I hear, and bless me with Your presence. Give me such a hunger for You that, being filled by You, I would desire You more each day. Amen.

Points for Meditation:

  1. Compared to other pursuits in your life, how passionately and persistently have you pursued God?
  2. Meditate on the growth of God’s grace in the life of someone you know, who through passion and persistence pursued God all the days of his or her life.

Resolution: I resolve today to more passionately and persistently devote myself to hearing and obeying the Lord.


Tree Planted by Streams of Water – Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 International license

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