Posted on October 9, 2013
#23: All About Results!
A contractor begins a construction project. What’s his goal? Large, neat stacks of building materials? Creative architectural drawings? No. He wants to see a building go up. Unless a useful structure results, the contractor’s plans are useless.
A teacher presents a lesson. What does she want? The fun of preparing it? A paycheck? No, she wants to see her students learn the lesson and put it to use. Unless her teaching impacts students, the effort she’s made is wasted.
A farmer plants a field. What’s he after? Exercise? Catching some rays? No! He wants a harvest—the larger, the better. Without a harvest, the work he’s done is worthless.
A contractor wants a building, a teacher wants an impact, and a farmer wants a harvest. All three are after results.
Welcome to Knowing Jesus, our study of Mark’s gospel. We want to see, through the example of Jesus, how God would want us to live life for His glory. Today, we’ll learn the purpose of Jesus’ teachings—and the results He wants.
Read Mark 4:21-25. Also look at Matthew 7:1-5 and Luke 6:37-38.
Jesus had just taught the parable of the sower, one of many times He used an “earthly story with a heavenly meaning.” In a private follow-up, He explained the parable’s meaning to His disciples. Then, so they wouldn’t think the meat of His teachings was exclusively theirs, He made His purpose clear.
Jesus posed a humorous question: “Who would light a lamp, then hide it under a bowl or bed?” Hidden light is worthless. Light is meant to be seen! The teaching He brought was meant to be understood. He wasn’t playing mind games, or toying with the crowds. He wanted them to get it—to understand.
But He also wanted them to want understanding. He wasn’t interested in spoon-feeding them. “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear,” He said. What was concealed would be revealed to anyone who would truly listen. Jesus pressed his audience to think about His words, to mull them over, to figure out His point.
His hope was that the seeds of these parables were falling on fertile heart-soil where they would drop roots and grow a beautiful, flourishing crop of godliness. His words were sown for results—to produce fruit in the lives of His hearers.
Jesus’ listeners weren’t to use this new insight to measure others’ behavior. That sort of judgmentalism would only turn their own harsh standards against themselves. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more.” Look at the same teaching in two other gospels. In Matthew 7:2, it’s followed by the speck-and-log comparison. In Luke 6:38, Jesus uses it to urge generous, merciful forgiveness (with teaching often misapplied today to finances): “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Every minister has felt frustration when the church member who most needed the sermon’s message walks out the church door saying, “You really told ’em today, Preacher!” Our job is not to apply Jesus’ teachings to others. Our job is to hear, think through, and apply the message to ourselves. Then, we grow. Then, we gain increasing insight.
In Mark 4:25, Jesus offered a tantalizing promise and a haunting warning: “Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” There was much more teaching to come. He had amazing things He longed to share with them (and us!) if they were able and ready to hear. Those who weren’t interested in listening would soon lose the opportunity.
Later, Mark records, “Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.” (v. 33) How much did they miss by not being prepared to receive it? We cheat ourselves by our own lack of focus (failing to consider carefully what He’s taught us), our judgmental attitudes (a self-righteous measuring rod), and our spiritual dullness (not having ears to hear).
Jesus grieves at wasting His rich seed on the hard path, the rocky soil, or the thorn-infested ground of closed hearts. But He longs for and loves fertile soil—open, teachable hearts—where His teachings will get results. Will He find in you what He wants?
© Diane McLoud 2013