Summary: In Mark 4:21-25 Jesus teaches that how we respond to the light of God’s truth today has consequences for more or less light from God’s Word tomorrow.
#19: Responding to the Light
June 7, 2020
TEXT: Mark 4:21-25 – “And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? 22 For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. 23 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 24 And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. 25 For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.”
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In Mark 4:21-25 we have two short parables of Jesus. When the word parable is used, we normally think of long stories spanning several verses, like the Parable of the Soils we looked at last week, or the famous Parable of the Prodigal Son. But as we learned last week, a parable is literally “something thrown beside something else”; it’s a COMPARISON of something earthly with something spiritual. So they can be long narratives or short, pithy comparisons of a verse or two.
Today’s text illustrates how Jesus could use the shortest of little comparisons to illustrate deep spiritual truths. Both of the parables we’ll look at this morning are two verses long, separated by a warning in the middle.
The Gospel writers had a wealth of sayings and parables of Jesus to choose from. Oddly, many sayings are bundled together in one place in one gospel and scattered throughout other gospels. To illustrate what I mean, note that in today’s text, verses 21-25 of Mark 4, are two parables back-to-back, indicating that possibly they were said in one sitting. But note the following:
• Verse 21 is found in chapter 5 of Matthew.
• Verse 22 is found in Matthew 10.
• Verse 24 is repeated in Matthew 7.
So how is it that these sayings are found one after the other in Mark, as if they were said in one place and time, but in other gospels they are scattered all over the place?
One reason might be that the Gospel writers were not so much concerned about the chronology of Jesus’ teachings as they were about choosing the teachings that fit their purposes to weave them into a coherent theme. In this understanding of things, Mark simply chose all five of the parables in chapter 4 from the pool of all of Jesus’ sayings, and put them together here. If so, he did this not necessarily to imply that they were all said in one sitting, but to illustrate something—which in this case seems to be to demonstrate how Jesus utilized parables in His ministry.
But the most probable explanation is that Jesus almost certainly repeated things. He preached and taught almost every day for three years all over Palestine. He had to have repeated His teachings many times wherever He went.
Illus. – When an evangelist travels from church to church, he repeats sermons; he doesn’t have an original sermon every time he preaches in every church he preaches at.
Jesus wasn’t trying to be constantly original; He was trying to drive home certain key points everywhere He went, so no doubt He must have repeated His teachings often. So if this is the explanation, it’s possible that Jesus taught all five of the parables in Mark 4 at one sitting, including the two in today’s text, and also taught them again in different settings as recorded in the other Gospels.
So, let’s launch now into the two parables in these five verses:
I. FIRST, IN VERSES 21-22, WE HAVE “THE PARABLE OF THE LAMP” –
Verse 21 says, “And he said to them, ‘Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket, or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand?”
Now we need to look at four textual details in this verse to fully understand it.
• First, Jesus talks about a lamp, not a candlestick.
Candles had not come into existence by this time. The word literally is a lamp. Like the image in the slides, it was actually a little clay pot in which they poured some olive oil and dipped in a wick and lit the end, drawing on the oil to sustain light.
• The word, “bushel” or “basket,” is exactly the word for what Jesus is talking about here.