Reflections on the New Testament: Mark
“And He said to them, ‘Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?’” Mark 4:13, NKJV.
It is essential that we, as Christians, understand the Word of the Lord in its entirety—it is essential that we continually learn. We are not to feed solely on the milk of the Word, for then we are but moderately strengthened; we are not familiar with the full context and implications and are therefore incapable of accurate application. Rather, we must proceed to the meat of the Word, and pursue a full and accurate understanding of “all the parables.” The Lord has fully equipped us for this task—He has sent us the Helper and opened the avenue of prayer. We are without excuse. Jesus’ question to His disciples in Mark 4:13 has the tone of a reprimand, as though He genuinely expected His disciples to have understood the parable and was rather disappointed that they did not. It is as though He said to them: “Children, you ought to understand this, for it is simple, and there are a great many deeper things I am eager to teach you.” How many blessings of wisdom we miss when we neglect study and prayer, and choose, rather, to cling to a few basic concepts we ought to have understood and built upon long ago! The Lord is, indeed, eager to reveal many things to us—let us not prefer ignorance.
“And He said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.’ Then He said, ‘To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all the herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade,” Mark 4:26-32, NKJV.The kingdom of God flourishes by the power of the Holy Spirit—“we ourselves do not know how.” It is our immense privilege, as sinners saved by grace, to plant the mustard seed—a task which may seem small and ordinary enough at first—but the Holy Spirit shall see that the seed sprouts and grows, flourishes and yields a crop. We shall awake one day and find a harvest ready to be gathered in, or a great tree sprung up from, as we thought, bare earth—if we do not despise the labor, however menial, God has assigned to us, but rejoice in it, knowing that the Holy Spirit will make much of it.