Summary: the challenge from Jesus to actually hear him speak.
MARK 4 V21-25
Here we are the first Sunday of 2005, the beginning of another year. Some of you may have made New Year resolutions – you are going to lose weight, get fit, give up some bad habit and be more disciplined in your spiritual life. It is the last of those I want to concentrate on this morning – being more disciplined in our spiritual life. The beginning of a New Year is nearly always the time when we tell ourselves this year things will be different, but will they? Will 2005 by any different for us than 2004? Will your Christian life be any more victorious than it was in 2004? Will your Christian life be more disciplined or blessed in 2005 than in 2004? The truth is none of us can actually accurately answer that question but what we can do is be more disciplined in our Christian life and seek to be obedient, unlike many times in 2004. We cannot change 2004 but 2005 lies open before us, as yet unlived and un-experienced by us. So turn with me to Mark 4 verses 21-25 and let us hear God’s Word to us this morning as we begin 2005 together.
Verses 21-22 – READ. Literally translated this verse says: “Does the lamp come for the purpose of being placed under the bed? Does it not come for the purpose of being placed on a lamp stand?” We are often guilty of interpreting this verse as speaking about our ‘light’ (faith) and the fact that we are not to keep it hidden when in fact it is actually Jesus speaking about Himself and His self revelation as the Light of the World. In Mark’s gospel the fact that Jesus is the Son of God (the Messiah) is often hidden from everyday eyes – it is only to those who truly seek to find Him to whom it is revealed. There is a simple but profound lesson for us all there – it is to those who seek Him with all their heart, soul and strength that He is revealed. You want to know why in 2004 Jesus seemed so hard to find, so difficult to hear and the blessing was missing in your life – because the truth was that you did not really seek Him. You paid lip service to Him in your praise but your desire was not for Him and His presence but for the things of the world. How can I say such a thing to you this morning? Because the same was true of me on many occasions in 2004, but with the grace of God I don’t want it to be so in 2005 and I pray that is true for you also. Jesus is the lamp – He has come not to be hidden from us but to be revealed in all His glory to us. Like a lamp it needs to be placed on a lamp stand so that the whole room can benefit from the light – so Christ is revealed through the cross and the resurrection so that all who would may know Him. You see in verse 22 Jesus tells His hearers that there will come a day when the reality of who He is will be revealed for them to see and understand – the cross and the resurrection. But another is coming when the truth about Christ will be revealed for all to see and understand – the Second Coming.
Verses 21 and 22 are a prelude to the warning in verse 23 ‘He who has ears let him hear.’ Here is Jesus warning those around Him that the onus on understanding is on them also. They all have ears but they do not all hear what He is saying – why? Because not all of them seek Him with their heart, soul, mind and strength. Not all of them are actually listening with spiritual hearts, too many of them still have carnal hearts and so fail to hear what He says. You know it is not much different today. You read the Bible, you hear the gospel preached, you hear the gospel sung in words of praise and spoken in prayer and yet you just hear words. You hear words and you leave as you entered – untouched by God, unbowed by the Spirit and you wonder what was it all about. Let me ask you all some simple questions – how many of you came here this morning expecting to meet with God and to hear God speak? Did you pray before the service started for God to touch your heart and your mind to understand? Is your hearts desire this morning Jesus and the things of Christ? They are simple enough questions and yet they reveal the challenge of ‘he who has ears let him hear.’ The challenge for you and for me in 2005 is quite simple from verse 23 – am I going to listen for the voice of God? Am I going to seek to hear God speak in every and any situation? Will my first thought be ‘What is God doing here, or saying here? That was the challenge which Christ laid before His hearers and that same challenge is laid before us as we begin another year.