Mark 4:21-23 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.”
Here in Mark 4 Jesus is teaching in parables. Parables are stories that reveal a hidden truth. Jesus could have spoken plainly with everyone but He chose not to. The secrets of God are precious and must be sought out:
Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
If you are unwilling to seek God with all your heart, don’t expect to find Him. He doesn’t make Himself known to anyone but to those who are poor in spirit. The Gospel message is available to all but not all will understand; not all will repent and believe. Another reason why He spoke in parables is that the Jewish people who had been given the Word of God in the Old Testament did not highly regard Him. They should have been able to recognize the Christ when He appeared to them but they had already rejected God for who He really is and thus they also rejected the Christ. By hiding the truth in parables Jesus was pronouncing a form of judgment upon those who would not believe in Him. There were still some who followed Jesus that believed in Him but all the Jews should have recognized Him as the Christ and especially the religious leaders who claimed to know the Scriptures so well and were leading the people into the worship of a false god.
In this section, and the next parable described, the contrast with the first parable of the Sower described in Mark 4:1-8 is evident. After showing that not all who hear the Word of God will believe, Jesus declares that you don’t hide a light under a basket. This is obvious. The light of who Jesus Christ is could not be hidden. In spite of the fact that Jesus was now speaking in parables, it was obvious that Jesus is the Christ. He is the divine nature- the Son of God made flesh. Everything that He did revealed God to the people who saw Him. Every action, every word, absolutely revealed the perfection of God in a man who walked and talked and lived upon this earth. He is infinite love and mercy and goodness and truth and wisdom and justice. All the attributes of God are revealed in Him. He knows all things and will never change in all His infinite perfection and holiness. He came to save us from our sins and to reconcile us to God and there was absolutely no way that this could be stopped. The light could not be hidden.
But there was a time when the light was hidden under a basket. There can be purpose in hiding the light as Jesus’ use of parables revealed. For thirty years Jesus grew up in a family under His earthly parents Joseph and Mary. He was hidden after His birth and taken to Egypt to prevent King Herod from having Him killed. When they returned to Israel following Herod’s death, they did not return to Bethlehem which is near to Jerusalem but to Nazareth in Galilee- away from the religious elite in Jerusalem. He grew into a man in secrecy. And there was also a much greater span of time during which the light was hidden. Not only for thirty years but for thousands of years, from the very beginning of time, it was hidden who the Savior of mankind would be. How would God redeem mankind after the fall? Would the devil for all time be allowed to reign upon this earth after Adam’s rebellion? Would Satan remain victorious over God in defaming Him by overcoming mankind who was made in God’s image? The Old Testament is full of prophecies that predicted the coming of the Christ and of which were all fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. God had a purpose in this period in which the light was hidden as He raised up the nation of Israel and He decided the exact point in history at which the Christ would be revealed. God continues to progressively make more of Himself known to mankind in greater ways throughout all time and His timing and means are always perfect. There is so much to be learned about who God is progressively from the Old Testament to the New Testament and throughout the Church Age in which we now live before Jesus’ second coming.
But it would have been utter foolishness and it would have made no sense at all for God to promise a way of salvation and for it to never be fulfilled just as it makes no sense at all to bring a lamp into a dark room with the purpose of making things visible but instead covering up the lamp. Also, as in verse 22, Jesus points out there is no point in keeping anything a secret unless at some point it is to be revealed. He is speaking of a good secret like a surprise for your spouse or friend or child. There is no point in planning a surprise for them unless they receive it. (Jesus is not referring to a bad secret like the secret sins that people try to hide and hope will never be revealed).
And so in spite of the manner in which Jesus was speaking to them, He was in their very presence revealed. He was standing before them. He was proclaiming to all of mankind that He is the Christ and He would reveal this by dying on the cross in our place and rising from the dead. If anyone has ears to hear let him hear! This message is to be proclaimed everywhere and believed! And just as Jesus was revealed as the Christ, we who are born again by the Spirit of God will one day in the future be revealed to be in Christ.
Galatians 3:26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
Anyone who has truly repented and believed in Jesus Christ is actually a son or daughter of God here and now and brought into the family of God through faith. While we may look the same as we did before, we are new creatures in Christ and will accordingly live in a different manner than we did before. We will reflect the glory of God and obey Him out of our love to Him and His Spirit at work within us. It is impossible for us to hide our new identity in Christ as the love of God is in us and revealed to others through us. But just as Jesus was in secret for many years and just as His identity and means of providing for our salvation was hidden, so too who we really are is yet to be revealed but one day it will be when Jesus returns:
Philippians 3:20-21 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
But for those who do not know Jesus Christ, they too will be revealed for who they really are. You cannot hide who you are. It will be revealed one day, one way or another. When Jesus returns at the final judgment all their secret sins will be revealed for they have not been changed. The true state of their hearts will be revealed. Do you long for that future day when Jesus returns or do you live in fear of His coming?
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 4:1-20 1 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.”
13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the restrictions start to become lessened it can be easy to come to the conclusion that the restrictions are still too great. Or you may believe that the restrictions are being lessened too quickly. There is a wide variety of information that can be found of differing views of this virus that we cannot see. What should be our response? Scripture is clear: Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Even if we don’t agree with the government we are still to be obedient as long as we are not commanded to act outside of what is considered acceptable to God. While we may not understand all of the underlying truths of the pandemic, we have our direction from Scripture in how we are to respond.
Although we do not need to know the actual truth behind the current pandemic, we are expected to know the truth revealed in Scripture. When Jesus walked upon the earth He did not always speak plainly with the crowds. He often spoke in parables- in stories illustrating a main point, thus hiding the truth in plain sight. Why would He do so? He makes it clear in verse 12: to actually prevent people from coming to know Him as the Christ and turn to Him and be forgiven.
This may be surprising to you but as we have been going through the book of Mark we have already seen how most of the people in the crowds who followed Him were following Jesus for the wrong reasons and had not real interesting in turning away from their sins and surrendering their life to the Christ who had come to save them. And so it is very fitting that the first recorded parable in the book of Mark is the Parable of the Sower. This parable describes the seed (representing the Word of God) being sown by God on four different types of ground (representing different types of hearts in people) of which only the good soil produces a harvest (the heart that has humbled himself before God and is willing to repent and believe in Jesus Christ). God will only reveal Himself personally to the person who is willing to humble himself before Him and genuinely recognizes their need of salvation through Jesus Christ and seeks to find Him with all their heart.
Our salvation from God is free as we come to recognize that Jesus died for our sins and there is nothing that we can do to earn our salvation apart from faith in His saving work, but for the unbeliever, the real significance of Jesus death and resurrection remains hidden and must be sought out. The truth of salvation is available to all but it is precious and God will not make it known clearly to everyone. The only people to whom He will make it clearly known and to whom He will reveal Himself personally are to those whom He intends to save! Do you understand the Gospel message or is it still hidden to you? God does not trust everyone with the truth revealed in Scripture. He trusted the disciples and would speak to them about things that He would not speak about openly with the crowds. But even among them He did not speak plainly until after Judas Iscariot left the rest of them at the Last Supper when he went to betray Jesus to death. And then, Jesus spoke more openly with the disciples after His resurrection and ultimately after His ascension up into heaven as the Spirit of Christ was poured into their hearts on the Day of Pentecost. Do you recognize the privilege it is to know God- how special it is to be a child of God? If God has revealed Himself to you and you are a born again Christian you are considered worthy of the secret oracles of God! He has chosen you and He loves you! Is it not worth it to suffer for His Name if He is willing to reveal Himself to you?
But do not think that just because you have heard the Word of God and agree with it on some level that you are automatically a Christian. For many it is like the seed sown upon the path that is trampled. The Word of God goes in one ear and out the other and doesn’t hold any significance to them. They remain deceived by Satan. For others it is like the seed sown on rocky ground. They appear to repent and believe but when persecution comes they run away from God proving that their love to Jesus Christ did not penetrate their heart such that they would be willing to give up everything for Him. For others they love what the world can offer them: temporary pleasure and entertainment. They love this more than God and are like the seed sown among thorns. They may appear to be a Christian but they love this sinful world more and what it offers them.
I believe that during this pandemic God is revealing just how much each of us really love God. Are you seeking Him with all your heart? Is He precious to you and your heart’s desire? Have you sought out the secrets revealed in the Word of God that reveal the unseen God?
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 3:20-35 20 Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.
28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
Have you ever known a child very well and then for whatever reason you did not see them again for many years- perhaps not until they were an adult? Did you recognize them? Often we are surprised as they have changed so much from what we remember. But we usually can pick out mannerisms and facial features that we know about them from before. Just think about the struggle that Jesus’ brothers and sisters and mother went through after Jesus’s baptism when He was baptized with the Holy Spirit and entered into public ministry with great power. Jesus declared the Word of God with authority and performed all kinds of signs and wonders authenticating His Words proving that He is the Christ, the Son of God, who came to save mankind from their sins. For thirty years He would have appeared like any other person but then suddenly He was revealed as the Saviour of all mankind. There were hints of who He really was that He revealed as He grew into manhood but nobody understood Him- not even His own earthly family, and not even His earthly mother Mary.
The amazing reality of anyone who has been born again by the Spirit of God is that they will recognize Jesus Christ for who He really is. In spite of the fact that nobody really understood what Jesus was about to do until after He rose from the dead, the true follower of God who was waiting for the Christ to come recognized Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ. They did not yet fully understand but they still recognized Him and followed Him. They were drawn to Jesus and they loved Him. They were waiting for Him and knew Him even though there was so much about Him that they did not yet understand.
Herein lies the parallel that Jesus brings out in comparing his earthly family to the spiritual family of God. Of anyone on this earth, we should recognize our parents and our siblings above anyone else. God designed the family so that we will be raised by our father and mother alongside our brothers and sisters. We know them best and are to love them all and to be loved by them. Sadly this is not the case in many broken families but this is God’s desire and original intent. There is no way that we should not be able to recognize anyone in our family.
But Jesus’ earthly brothers and sisters and mother wanted to seize Jesus and said, “He is out of his mind.” Why? Because they could not recognize Him. Although they were physically related to Him through His earthly mother and had spent many years growing up with Him, they were not yet born again- they were not yet in the family of God and thus could not recognize Him as the Christ. We know that at least some of His earthly family did later recognize Him as His half-brother James became an apostle and a leader of the church in Jerusalem and Jesus’ mother Mary proved to be a true follower of God.
But of all people that should have recognized the Christ it was the religious leaders among the Jews. The scribes knew the Word of God better than anyone and yet they accused Jesus of being possessed by a demon and casting out demons by the power of Satan- the very enemy of God whom Jesus was forcing back and continues to force back upon this earth. They did not recognize Jesus for who He really is and so Jesus corrects them. A kingdom divided against itself will fall apart just as a family against itself will fall apart. If you come against who you are to serve and love only destruction awaits. Everyone in a kingdom or family is to know and fulfill their own role. We can trust and recognize each other and work together towards a common goal. But if we are from a different kingdom or a different family we can’t expect this to be true and we will be divided. Jesus brings out this picture more clearly by describing someone trying to steal from a strong man’s house. There is no way that a strong man is going to let you take from him without great difficulty. The only way you could do this is to tie him up. As the ways of God are in absolute contradiction to the ways of Satan there is no way that Jesus as the Christ could be forcing back the powers of darkness by the power of Satan. Satan would not allow it.
The words of the scribes revealed the great danger that they were in: they revealed that they were not only among the enemies of God but there was no way for them to recognize Jesus as the Christ by what they had declared about Jesus. They had examined Jesus and said He was of the devil. It wasn’t a matter of confusion in trying to recognize Jesus like His earthly brothers and sisters and mother. Rather they declared Him to be the very enemy of God- the very opposite of God. If our understanding of the Christ becomes so turned upside down that we see Jesus as the very enemy of God we can never be saved. This is the extreme danger that Jesus is making known here.
Do you recognize the Christ? Can you recognize your brothers and sisters who are in the spiritual family of God? Or are you confused as Jesus’ earthly brothers and sisters were? Do not become so confused as the scribes who turned the love of God upside down and there was no way for them to recognize Jesus as the Christ. Jesus Christ came to save sinners no matter what evil we have done if only we will repent and believe!
Pastor Murray Hack