Our symbol this week is the lightbulb, with a prayer for each of us,
that we will not grope about in the darkness, but that His Word, His parables,
will illumine our way and protect us from danger.
May we pray for lightbulb moments.
I had a lightbulb moment in our passage in Mark this week.
It has always been a mystery to me as to why Jesus would want to hide truth from anyone.
Wouldn’t He want their darkness to be illumined so that they could believe?
Yet, He says “No.” (See Mark 4:11-12)
Hiding the truth from some is the reason He now turns to teaching in parables,
for parables have the power to both hide & illumine.
My lightbulb moment on why Jesus would want to hide came in examinining the context, the incident that happens just before He begins to teach in parables.
He is accused of having a demon.
It is then that He speaks this formidable truth:
N. T. Wright explains that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit can be likened to a conspiracy theory. If, for example, you believe your surgeon is actually a murderer in disguise, you will never let him operate on you. Anything he says or does to try to convince you to trust him will be seen as part of the conspiracy.
In the same way, if you believe the one who claims to be God
is actually possessed by Satan,
anything he says or does will be viewed as part of his conspiracy.
You will reject His Spirit, His Word,
and His lifeline of forgiveness thrown to you from Calvary.
You will also be “evangelistic” in spreading the conspiracy theory,
trampling on the pearl of great price.
In the crowd listening to Jesus, are those like this, so now He turns to parables,
which both illumine and hide.
Keller’s book does not cover this week’s passage, but we will.
Highlight from Last Week:
How I loved your enthusiasm on seeing or seeing again the huge different between religion and the gospel of Christianity. There were so many good thoughts from you — but here are two the show the burden and powerlessness of religion.
If I find that obedience is a burden, an enslavement, or it’s advice, that’s a clue I’m following the paradigm of religion. If I am living the gospel, obedience is a delight, a gift.
I thank God for freeing me from religion. It’s not easy everyday, but it’s not a chore at all. Thank you Father for Your leading and direction.
Jennifer, who made the above comment last week, just joined our blog and my heart soared to see her. Last year God set her free from the lies of religion and she realized how deeply loved she is. She “happened” to come to a meal that a church in Columbus, Georgia offered to anyone when they announced the study The Jesus Who Surprises. God wooed her to sign up and then set her free. She gave a beautiful authentic testimony in The Jesus Who Surprises video and you can see it by clicking here:
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- How has God’s Word or Spirit been a light to you recently?
Monday: Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit
As a young Christian I so feared I might commit this unforgiveable sin, and my dear pastor (Sharon’s father-in-law) said, “Dee — if you are worried about it, you don’t have to be worried about it.” That is because if you care about pleasing God, it shows you revere Him. Blasphemy against the Spirit is a rejection of God because you do not revere Him. It is throwing away the lifeline that Christ offers — and there is no other way to be forgiven except to receive what Christ did for you on Calvary.
3. Read Mark 3:20-30.
A. What is the conflict in this passage?
B. What illustration does Jesus use to show the weakness in their accusation? What do
you learn from this?
C. N. T. Wright likens the accusation to a conspiracy theory. If someone believes there
is a conspiracy to make Jesus seem like God, but He is actually a fraud, how will that
affect that person’s reactions to anything Jesus says or does?
4. Read Mark 3:31-35
A. What happens here?
B. How does Jesus challenge idolatry of the family here?
5. Do you have any questions for God (or one another) about the above passages?
Tuesday: The Parable of the Sower
5. Read Mark 4:1-9
A. To whom is Jesus speaking in this passage?
B. Describe the reason the seed did not take root in each of the first three soils.
C. Describe what happened with the fourth soil.
D. Which of these soils represent a true believer and why do you think that?
6. Read Mark 4:10-12
A. To whom is Jesus speaking in this passage?
B. What does he tell them about his reason for speaking in parables?
7. When you see this passage in the context of the “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” passage,
what light comes to you?
8. What questions, petitions, confessions, or praise does this passage lead you to pray? Do so.
Wednesday: The Parable of the Sower Explained
9. Read Mark 4:13-20
A. What stands out to you from the explanation Jesus gives to his disciples and why?
B. Most theologians believe that the first two soils, and probably the third, are unbelievers.
But there is the possibility thorny soil could represent very weak believers, who are saved
but unfruitful. We really don’t know. But given this, how might you pray for yourself or
others? Do so.
10. How have you seen God in your life recently?
Thursday: With the Measure you Use, it will be Measured to you
11. Read Mark 4:21-23
A. What does Jesus say here?
B. How does this relate to his explanation about speaking in parables?
12. Read Mark 4:24-25
A. What two statements does Jesus make here?
B. Keeping this in the context of hiding or illumining, what might be the correct
application of “with the measure you measure, it will be measured to you?”
N. T. Wright says: “Jesus seems to be telling his followers that the level to which they pay attention to what he’s teaching them will be the level at which they will receive the benefits of the kingdom.”
This reminds me of when I was endeavoring to interest Marty, a friend from pickleball, to come to Bible study. She was hesitant, asking how much homework there would be. Because I so wanted her to come, I said, “Not too much.”
But my wiser friend Twila leaned forward and said, “What you put into it is what you will get out of it.”
13. On the basis of the above, how might you pray for yourself? Do it.
Friday: Two More Farming Parables
14. Read Mark 4:26-29 and describe what you learn from this.
15. Read Mark 4:30-34
A. What is the point of this parable?
B. How might this be different from the way the people expected the Messiah to bring
in the new kingdom?
C. What do verses 33-34 tell us now about how Jesus taught?
16. How has have you seen God in your life recently?
Saturday: Reflections and Review
17. Do you have any questions for the group about the lesson this week?
18. What do you think will be your main take-a-way and why?