Mark 4:1-34 | THE SECRET OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

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The Secret Of The Kingdom Of God

By Carl Heusel

 

Mark 4:1-34

Key Verse 4:11a

 

“He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you.’”

 

How did Jesus reveal secret of the kingdom of God? Through the teachers of the law? Through the temple priests? Maybe even throw the history channel? No! It was with parables. Jesus took the word of God, and made it understandable even to small children. Jesus said in verse 22, “for whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.” Jesus meant that the word of God was not meant to be hidden, but was meant to shine on our hearts and lives. And that’s what Jesus did. He brought the word of God out through simple parables that held secrets of God’s kingdom within them. Jesus also meant that the word of God exposes the sin hiding in dark places of man’s heart. But that’s not all! The word of God transforms the heart and drives out the darkness. Jesus spoke in parables to teach us the secrets of the kingdom that God that is hidden in His word.

 

In this chapter, Jesus tells four parables. In the first two, he teaches us what kind of attitude we should have toward the word of God. In the last two parables, he teaches us what thekingdomofGodis all about. According to Jesus, these teachings are great secrets that we all must learn.

 

First, Jesus Teaches The People Many Things. (1-2) Read verse 1. “Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge.” Jesus is really great! Everywhere he goes, people come to him because they see in him a compassionate Shepherd— a shepherd who concerns himself with them. Most of these people were from the lowest casts of society. Most suffered many hardships in life. For the most part they were abandoned by their leaders. But they came to Jesus because they knew that he loved them and cared for them. They came to Jesus because they felt the love of God through him. They knew he would risk his life for a leper, or a man with a shriveled hand. So they did not hesitate to come to Him. They came because they loved him and because they knew he loved them.

 

What did Jesus do for those who came to him? Read verse 2a. “He taught them many things by parables.” Jesus taught them “many things”. Each parable he taught them came to the same conclusion— thekingdomofGod. The heart of Jesus’ teaching always reveals the secrets of the God kingdom. Jesus did not teach them rules and regulations. He taught them what they needed to know. He taught them about thekingdomofGod. Why? Because thekingdomofGodis our home. Jesus knew that, more than anything else, these people needed hope in God’s kingdom. Jesus knew that these people suffered and they needed comfort. But Jesus also knew that everything here and now will perish. So he gave something that does not perish. He gave them hope in the God’s kingdom.

 

Second, Jesus Taught Them By Parables. (2) Jesus spoke to the people in parables. Parables are not riddles. Parables are simple stories that usually have a single teaching. Jesus’ parables are examples from everyday life that taught specific things about God’s kingdom. When people heard these parables from Jesus they were amazed at the simplicity of his teaching. They had never heard the Bible explained this way. It was so simple & clear. The priests had never been able to teach like this. But when Jesus taught God’s word, he took it out of hiding and explained it. He unlocked the secrets of the kingdom. Without the word of God people were starving spiritually. But Jesus opened up the meaning to them. He taught them parables to feed their hungry souls, like a parent gives milk to his children.

 

Third, The Right Attitude Towards The Word Of God. (3-25) The first parable was the parable of the sower. Read verse 3. “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.” The seed represents the word of God. Why did Jesus say that the word of God is like a seed. Because the “word of God” and a “seed” have the same character. Just like a seed is alive and can grow to become a tree, so is the word of God. The word of God has life. It can be planted in the heart and grow. And when it grows in someone’s heart, so many wonderful things happen. I remember when I began studying the bible. When my Bible teacher began with Genesis, I thought these where simple children’s stores. But his teaching opened my eyes and I began to understand thekingdom ofGod! God’s word is the most important thing in our life. Without it we cannot have spiritual life. Without it we cannot grow spiritually. Most people really have no idea how important the word of God is. But when they ignore it, they starve spiritually. Without the word of God, they cannot do anything but sin. That is why Jesus taught his disciples to appreciate the word of God, to view it as the word of life.

Read verses 4-8. “As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.” The word of God is living. It has the power to grow in the heart. But not every heart appreciates the word of God. Jesus teaches us that the heart can be like four different kinds of soils.  And each of these soils reacts differently to the word of God. Before we talk about these soils, we need to understand why Jesus said that the heart is like a soil.

 

Because seeds can be planted, and grow in it, and eventually bear fruit. The heart is like a field that can be cultivated. Unfortunately, many people do not know this. They do no care what is growing in their hearts. But whether they care or not, it does not stop things from growing in the heart-soil. When people fill their hearts with worldly things to enjoy them, they think they can enjoy them and then get rid of them later. But it doesn’t work that way. Just like a weed in my garden. Along my garage there is a small strip of soil that I neglected. A grass-like weed took over the area. It was easy to overlook, because it looks like grass, but it is tough and coarse, all the harder to manage. This spring I turned over the soil, pulling each weed out by its roots. I planted flowers there instead. The weeds where gone, but their seed where still in the soil, along with the flower seeds I planted. Now when I walk past that spot, I kneel down to pull the weeds before they start to bear more seeds. Old seeds remain dormant for a long time and it takes a lot of kneeling to keep the weed out.  Whatever goes into our heart, will also grow in that heart. And then someday will also reap a harvest. If we plant dirty thoughts, we will reap dirty thoughts. If we plant violence, then we will also reap violence. When we encourage someone to read the Bible, rather than watch TV, it’s because whatever we fill our hearts with, that’s what will grow. But not many listen! Then they wonder why their minds fill up with the weeds of this world.

 

This world will plant their own seeds-of-sin, if you do not take care of the heart soil today. It’s because what we sow in our heart we will reap. This is what Jesus is trying to teach us. If that happens, what can we do? We can repent and lean on the grace of Jesus. It’s the only way to remove the weeds, and plant the word of God instead. This is why Jesus was teaching his disciples about the four kinds of heart soils. He wanted to teach them what kind of soil can bear good fruit. He wants to teach them how to prepare their hearts so that the word of God can be planted. And Jesus teaches that it’s all a matter of attitude towards the word of God— whether one appreciates the word of God and treat it with care, or to disregard it.

 

According to Jesus, there are four kinds of soils in the heart. The Path. The rocky soil. The thorny soil. And the good soil.

 

The first heart soil is like a path that cannot receive the word of God, because it is packed down with the doubts of the world. For example, I love to I stay up late and watch Star-Trek episodes on Netflix. I look forward to the next episode. However the more I watch, the more I see how much these shows plant seeds of doubt in people’s heart that harden their hearts. God & faith are  considered as no more than stories for children. When people hold on to faith in God, they are considered ignorant and their faith makes them prejudiced against truth and each other. Jesus tells us in verse 15 that while that heart remains in doubt, “Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.”

 

Then there is the rocky heart. That heart’s problem is that it is too superficial. It speaks well of the word of God. But it does not know how to commit to the word of God. Jesus tells us in verse 17 what happens to those with rocky hearts. “Since they have no root, they last only a short time.” I think that the people who where on the shore listening to the parables had rocky-heart-soil. They loved the parables Jesus told, and went home feeling good. They told their friends the    parables they heard. But when they where asked what it meant, they had little roots in the word of God, and stumbled over the true meaning. Then their faith withered and died up. They should have stayed around and asked? Who is the sower? What is the seed? Can my heart soil be helped?

Then there is the thorny heart. That heart soil is good enough to grow all kinds of things in it. But the problem is that all kinds of things grow in such a heart, in the end, the word of God is choked out— just like my back yard garden. In the spring, the soil is tilled, the seeds are planted, but the worries of this life and the adventures of Star-Trek takes away from the time I spend caring for the garden.  Jesus tells us in verse 19 that “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”

 

These three hearts— the hard heart, the rocky-heart and the thorny heart— cannot cultivate any good thing in them, especially when they have no word of God growing there. Eventually people with such hearts cannot possibly grow spiritually.

 

But Jesus did mention the fourth and best kind of heart. The heart with the good soil. The good heart soil not only bears good fruit, he tells us in verse 20 that it also reaps “a hundred times what was sown.” Jesus says that only the good heart soil is able of keep the seed of God’s word in it and nurture it to maturity. Why? Because of how it appreciates the word of God. It knows the value of the word of God. It has a good attitude for the word of God. Suppose a home-owner wants to plant a garden. When the time comes for him to prepare the soil, his wife comes by and convinces him to do it tomorrow, or she will throw away all his junk left lying around the house. Then the second time he goes out to prepare the soil, he remembers that his favorite show Star-Trek is on, and he was looking forward to part two. And then every time he goes out to prepare the soil, something comes up and he does not prepare the soil. Is this home-owner serious about planting a garden? Not really. But if he lets no distractions turn him away from preparing his soil, then that home-owner is serious. That in itself is a good example of someone who appreciates the value of the word of God. He will surely have a good garden.

 

A heart that is serious about planting the seed of Gods word sets out to prepare its heart soil.  How would that heart prepare? In verses 21-25 Jesus teaches one way to prepare a good heart soil. Read verses 21-22. “He said to them, ‘Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.’” Jesus first tells us the function of the word of God. Like a lamp, the word of God is meant to shine rather than be hidden. To prepare our heart for the word of God to grow in it, we must let the light of God’s word shine on our heart. And when it does, it usually exposes the hidden and dark things. Suppose a Christian has a problem with secretly enjoying the things of the world. When he studies the Bible, the light of God’s word shines on his heart, and reveals his problem. He can either hide his problem or he can deal with the problem by painfully bringing it to Jesus. Then Jesus will ask him to repent of it. And Jesus will ask him to trust that God will help him overcome it. If he refuses, then he goes back to the darkness. But if he accepts Jesus’ word in his heart, it will change his life. He also becomes a source of light for others to see Gods work in him.

 

It is not easy to let the light of God’s word shine in our hearts and expose our dark secrets. One has to be serious about solving their sin problem. One has to appreciate the power of the word of God. One has to accept that the light of Gods word has power to overcome the darkness within. Read verses 23-25. “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. ‘Consider carefully what you hear,’ he continued. ‘With the measure you use, it will be measured to you —and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.’” Jesus said: “Consider carefully what you hear.” When one appreciates the word of God, and is serious about cleaning house, he hears the word of God and holds on to it. He thinks about it. He considers it carefully. He treats it with respect. In Bible study, he gives his heart to it. In time of worship he is attentive. When the word of God conflicts with his ideas or the way he does things, he is quick to weed it out of his own thoughts. Then he makes room for the word of God to grow in its place. When the word of God conflicts with his feelings, he digs up those useless feelings and throws them out of his heart. He then lets the word of God grow there instead. Jesus tells us this secret about Gods word and how we should treat it. If we are serious, we too can harvest a crop of faith and honor God with our lives.

 

Fourth, Two Secrets About TheKingdom OfGod. (26-34) Look at verses 26-34. Jesus then teaches us two parables to explain what thekingdom ofGod is like. Thekingdom ofGod is like a growing seed. Read verses 26-28. “He also said, ‘This is what thekingdom ofGod is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain —first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.’” According to Jesus one secret about thekingdom ofGod is that it will absolutely grow. The farmer does not need anything else. He need not worry whether it will grow or not. He only needs to do some minor gardening to take out some unwanted weeds here and there. The secret is that the farmer has faith the seed will grow. We too must have faith in the word of God. We plant it, and we have faith it will grow.

 

The second secret about thekingdomofGod, is that thekingdomofGodis like a mustard seed. Read verses 30-32. “Again he said, ‘What shall we say thekingdomofGodis like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.’” According to Jesus, thekingdomofGoddoes not start out as a mountain of faith in one’s heart. The secret is that the seed of God’s word has a very humble and small beginning. As small as a mustard seed. But here’s the thing. It is small but it has the power to grow into a huge tree. The secret of thekingdomofGodis that it begins to grow from even one word of God that we accept into our hearts.

 

We should listen carefully to what Jesus is teaching us in this lesson. We must believe that thekingdomofGodis already growing and will continue to grow until it fills our hearts and the hearts of everyone. But we must prepare our hearts to be good soil where the word of God is planted. We must also help others to prepare their heart-soil until they can produce a harvest for God. May one word of God take root in your hearts today. Let’s Read our key verse again, verse 11a. “He told them, ‘The secret of thekingdomofGodhas been given to you.”

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