Servant King – Week 5 – Parables of the Kingdom

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February 5, 2017

Servant King – Week 5 – Parables of the Kingdom

Servant King – Week 5 – Parables of the Kingdom

parables of the kingdomRemember last week we discovered that Jesus has called the apostles and appointed them with a specific calling and mission.  Remember the word apostle means “Sent one”
Mark 3:14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons.
We begin to see the transition today of Jesus training the 12 to be ready for the mission he has given them.  Before he “sends them out”  he needs to train them.
On a side note, I love this.  God does not send us until He equips us.  So how does he equip us?  With the Holy Spirit!  HE gives us the Holy Spirit as the instructor, the guide, the encourager for us to do what He calls us to.  Here is the danger and the rub.  Many of us don’t rely on the Holy Spirit.  In fact, many times we don’t recognize the Holy Spirits work in our lives because we don’t really need Him to help us.  We operate in our own power because we know we are capable.  Or we don’t even  attempt anything for God because we don’t think we can.  That is a lack of Holy Spirit dependence.   But Jesus spend time to train these men to do what God Calls them to do.  To preach the Kingdom.
Mark 4:1-3
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.2 He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said:
Here we see Jesus’ preferred method of teaching.  Parables,  Let’s define what a parable is.  A parable is “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning”.  3 truths that will make understanding parables easier to understand are.
  1. Parables specifically show us what the Kingdom of God is like.
  2. We need to be careful with parables because they usually focus on a singe truth.  We should not try and allegorize them and seek a meaning for every detail.
  3. Parables in the Gospels ultimately point to who God is and how he reveals himself through Jesus.
Many people think that Jesus used parables to make this message more understandable but what we are going to discover today is that the opposite is actually true.  The purpose of a parable is to create discussion in questions.  Let look at the first one.
3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
Thats it!  Shockingly, Jesus says the end.  no explanation.  The greatest strength and the greatest weakness of the parables is the same thing.  It requires us to engage, to ask questions.  If we do not engage in this we will not get it!
This first parable is unique.  It sets the tone for how every other parable is to be understood.  In fact this parable opens and closes with a specific command: LISTEN!  Notice the first word of verse 3 is Listen.  Then He closes the parable with the phrase.  “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
Jesus establishes up front that we must engage our ears.  We need to listen closely.  We need to pay attention.  Many people don’t know this about me but I suffer with a mild form of Dyslexia.  I don’t switch letters around or see things backward, instead it effects my ability to comprehend  things in written form.  When I read I have to concentrate.  I have to really work at it.  Others have a similar problem when it come to listening.  Jesus says,  “Wake up, pay attention,  engage your mind.  Listen carefully”  When we engage the word of God, especially parables, if we do not “listen”  we will not get what Jesus is saying.  So lets try this again.  You get a second chance.
3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
One thing we must understand is farming today and farming in Jesus’ day looked radically different.  Today when we get  ready to plant seeds in the ground we go out and prepare the soil.  We till the ground and make sure it is all ready to receive the seed.  But in Jesus’ day that was not the method.  They did what is called “broadcast seeding”  They would take a lot of seed and throw it everywhere.  And then they would till the ground and wait to see what took.  Unfortunately many of us forget this simple principle and we don’t think that way.  Remember this is a parable about the Kingdom and how it works.
But we think as modern Christians that we have figured out a better way to deal with the Gospel,  We know how we should farm.  No use wasting good seed on ground that will not take it, right?  So we come up with all kind of excuses as to why we don’t share the Gospel.  Well they won’t accept it.  They won’t understand.  They are not ready yet.  But the truth is Jesus says,  in my Kingdom this is how it works.  You need to spread the seed all over the place. You don’t select the perfect ground because you don’t know what will happen.
10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 
Notice it is not until Jesus is alone with the disciples, and THEY ask Him about the parable that He explains it.  There is a secret here.  If you read something in the word of God, and you don’t get it.  Ask God to reveal what it means.  Ask questions.   I love it that while we are doing our Bible reading this year there are times when people ask me,  Pastor what does this mean.  That is part of the process of discipleship.   But I want us all to remember I am not the first person you should ask, I am the second.  Ask God to reveal it to you through he Holy Spirit.  That is His job.  I am just a tool of research,  The Holy Spirit is the teacher.
11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’”
Now when we read those last phrases it sounds harsh.  Was Jesus intentionally trying to keep them in the dark?  The answer is no.  There are 2 parts to answer why Jesus used parables.  1.  To fulfill prophecy.  Jesus is quoting Isa 6:9-10 here.  Jesus knew that the people would ultimately reject Him.  I often think about this and I am troubled.  If God knew that they would reject Jesus, why doesn’t he do something about it. If God is all powerful why does He not fix this.  Because part of the work that Jesus must do on our behalf is be rejected.  If God made it so that everyone who Jesus ever spoke to fully accepted Him and followed Him,  then how could Jesus understand and  help us when we are rejected. 2.  Jesus was giving room for the Holy Spirit to do His work.  As people ask questions that dos not happen by accident,  it is the drawing of the Holy Spirit in peoples lives that opens them up to ask.  What does that mean?
This should encourage us.  As we spread the Gospel,  We are going to experience the same things Jesus did.  Sometimes we will be rejected,  but sometimes the Holy Spirit is going to create questions and conversations where we get to explore the Story more.
13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?
Notice Jesus says if you don’t get this you won’t get any of it.  Jesus is preparing them for what they are about to do.
14 The farmer sows the word.
Who is the farmer?…
Some say it is God.  That might be half right,  If we are thinking specifically of Jesus.  But ultimately The farmer is the one with the seed.  Jesus in His time, the Apostles as they are sent out with the word. But now it is us!  We are the farmer!
15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.
Unfortunately this is to true. Sometimes before they turn around the Enemy steals it from them.  Notice we still sow the seed anyway.
16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
This next one is so hard.  As a pastor this one is so difficult to deal with.  Someone comes and “receives Christ”,  they are excited, but then next week they are no where to be found.  When trouble and hardship come instead of pursuing God they run away.  We are not in control.  We can’t make them pursue God.  But we can pray and ask God to protect them and offer to help them put down roots in the Him.
18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
While the last one was about external issues causing them to fall away, this one focuses on internal choices.  This one to me is probably the most heart breaking.  When people are their own worst enemy and they allow their hearts, minds and sin to keep them from pursuing God.  The thorns here represent those things in our own lives that keep us from pursuing God.  Worry – a lack of trust in God’s goodness and providence, deceitfulness of wealth – a lack of trust in God’s provision and faithfulness, Desire for other things – a lack of trusting in God’s sovereignty and plan.   Notice it does not say that they do take root instead that they are unfruitful.  How many of us would say this might be a description of our own lives?  If I am honest I have been there before.  I knew the truth of God’s word but I failed to apply it to my life, and I was unfruitful.
20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
This is the desire that God has for all of us.  That we might be good soil.  That we hear the word, and ACCEPT it.  We walk in it.  We use it.  We trust in it. We follow it.  And look what it produces.  A crop!  Much more than just a single plant.  Some crops are bigger than others but they all produce something.  Thing about it, if you gave me 100 dollars and I gave you back 3000  Thats still a pretty good return. how about 6000, or 100,000.  That the kind of fruit i want to see.  but it only happens when we hear the word and walk in it.
Next Jesus jumps to another parable to reinforce His point.
21 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? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”
Jesus tell them (and us), that lamps are not meant to be put into hiding,  What is Jesus talking about??…
The gospel! The gospel is not meant to be hidden, it is meant to be shared. I have heard it said well my faith is private. Hear this!  Faith in Jesus is NEVER private,  it may be personal but it is not private according to Jesus.  It is meant to be shared!
24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
Then Jesus drives it home.  We have all heard the old adage “use it or loose it”  This is where that comes from.  This is a principle of life.  The more we use the gifts of God in our lives the more we will understand it and appreciate it.  I have had people say to me,  we need to do a class on sharing our faith.  I understand the idea, and I will defiantly try and do something like that but here is the problem.  If we come together and do a class but we are not using it, it is worthless.  I would much rather have someone call me and say Pastor I want to share the Gospel with someone today, can you come with me and coach me on how to do it?  Why because you are using it.  One of my goals this year is that we begin to develop teams of people that will go out of this building and share the good news with Jesus as a team, by doing dinner with people, or throwing a party in their home, or serving in the community together and sharing the Good news in the process.
Then we would be able to come back together and discuss how did it go?  What were some of the challenges.  That is a evangelism class I could get behind.
26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
See how Jesus explains the process of sowing and reaping works in the Kingdom and how it works.
Scatter not plant.
The seed (the word of God) does it’s work. I love this  Hebrews 4:12 says For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Jesus reminds us that Gods word does it work.  Isa 55:11 says  So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
This is such an encouragement to us, to scatter the seed liberally.  It is not up to us to make it grow  That is God’s job.  It is our job to be ready to harvest it.  I rest in this truth every time I preach.  I cannot make anyone in this church do anything.  I cannot make you apply the word of God to your life.  But I trust the more I plant the seeds the more I share the Gospel,  the more I preach the word.  It will produce fruit.
30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”
Then Jesus tells us that the smallest of seeds we plant can make the biggest impact.  It can do more that we could image.

As of 2008, Billy Graham’s estimated lifetime audience, including radio and television broadcasts, topped 2.2 billion. That means that approximately 2.2 billion people have heard the gospel from Billy Graham’s mouth. That’s hard to wrap your mind around.
Billy Graham has shared the gospel with more people than anyone else in history, but do you know who shared the gospel with him?
It actually is a series of events that has been traced over the years and starts out with one volunteer Sunday school teacher.
His name is Edward Kimball. Never heard of him? Rest assured – most people have never heard of him.
Kimball was a Sunday school teacher who not only prayed for the hyper boys in his class but also sought to win each one to the Lord personally. He decided he would be intentional with every single last one of them. Surely he thought about throwing in the towel. If you have ever taught the Bible to young boys, you know that the experience can often be like herding cats.
One young man, in particular, didn’t seem to understand what the gospel was about so Kimball went to the shoe store where he was stocking shelves and confronted him in the stock room with the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That young man was Dwight L. Moody. In the stockroom on that Saturday, he believed the gospel and received Jesus Christ as his Savior. In his lifetime, Moody touched two continents for God, with thousands professing Christ through his ministry.
But the story doesn’t end there. Actually that’s where it begins. Under Moody, another man’s heart was touched for God, Wilbur Chapman. Chapman became the evangelist who preached to thousands. One day, a professional ball player had a day off and attended one of Chapman’s meetings, and thus, Billy Sunday was converted.
Sunday quit baseball and became part of Chapman’s team. Then, Chapman accepted the pastorate of a large church and Billy Sunday began his own evangelistic crusades.
Billy Sunday one day preached in Charlotte, North Carolina, and there a young man by the name of Mordecai Ham was saved. He was a scholarly, dignified gentleman who wasn’t above renting a hearse and parading it through the streets advertising his meetings.
When Ham came to Charlotte, North Carolina, a sandy-haired, lanky young man, then in high school, vowed that he wouldn’t go hear him preach, but Billy Frank, as he was called by his family, did eventually go. Ham announced that he knew for a fact that a house of ill repute was located across the street from the local high school and that male students were skipping lunch to visit the house across the street. When students decided to go to interrupt the meetings of Mordecai Ham, Billy Frank decided to go see what would happen.
That night Billy Frank went and was intrigued by what he heard. Returning another night, he responded to the invitation and was converted. Billy Frank eventually became known as Billy Graham, the evangelist who preached to more people than any other person who ever lived, including the Apostle Paul.

33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
This was the pattern of Jesus.  He would use stories to get people interested.  And he would let the Holy Spirit and the Word of God do it’s work.  Then when people began to engage, he would go deeper with them and explore the truth with them.  He was not worried that everyone got it.  In fact He shared with everyone and left the result up to God.

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