In Bible study this week, we talked about the Kingdom Parables of Mark 4. I’m particularly enjoying talking about the parables; I feel that when those are the lesson, I’m not the one teaching. Indeed, it takes very little to share the parable and explain what it means. Actually, that’s almost too easy, and we’d easily finish what is usually an hour-long lesson within twenty minutes or less.
What’s great about the parables is that when discussion them, the Word comes alive. There is so much that can be spoken of that branches out of the parables, I’m often a bit dumbfounded at the ground we can cover simply through conversing about Jesus’ doctrine or teaching.
I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t start taking notes during the lesson in order to augment the notes I have before hand.
The first parable of Mark 4 is commonly called the parable of the lamp:
Then he asked them, “When someone lights a lamp, does he put a box over it to shut out the light? Of course not! The light couldn’t be seen or used. A lamp is placed on a stand to shine and be useful.” Mark 4:21, LB
This is very simple: If you (to modernize things a bit) turn on a lamp but then hide it beneath a blanket or box, you are completely defeating the purpose of the lamp, which is to light up an area!
I understand the lamp to represent the Kingdom of God within us, and what is the point of it being there if we keep it hidden within ourselves?
Like a lamp, the Kingdom of God is meant to shine and be useful. Elsewhere Jesus declares that we are the salt and the light of the world, the means through which the Kingdom of God is manifest. How then shall the Kingdom be known if we remain silent?
The parable tells us that the Kingdom is to be public. This isn’t always easy, I admit; yet Jesus does not call us to a life of ease (contrary to the heresies spread by far too many preachers within the churches today). His call is to take up our crosses, which I also admit is not something with which I’m wholly familiar. I’ve read about the persecuted church in foreign nations. I know of martyrs from throughout church history who suffered and ultimately died for the faith which I so easily take for granted. And when it comes to taking up crosses, it’s more likely that it’s a tiny metal cross on a chain rather than suffering loss for His name’s sake.
As I live out the Kingdom of God more and more, as I learn how to shine my light more effectively, I do expect that I’ll face increasingly risky persecution, yet I press on for the joy set before me — that of Christ and His Kingdom. God has blessed me with being able to set my “big picture” upon His Kingdom, and I know that something is different with having that perspective because of how different my goals and my priorities are from what they used to be.
Still, there’s plenty of room to change; it’s easy to fall into the “I’m okay; you’re okay” trap, so if it seems like I’m being down on myself, don’t worry about it. I’m simply being honest about myself with you, my readers!
Well, if you’ve read this far, thanks; I tend to ramble a bit, and I wrote this trying to remember the conversation we had during Bible study. And that is what we got out of the parable of the lamp.
The Kingdom of God must not be hidden. It must be shown forth in this age of darkness, and that happens when Christians live obediently to Christ: Loving God, keeping His commandments, and loving our neighbors as ourselves.
If we would but do those things, we would see genuine changes — not on a socio-political level, maybe, but where it counts: in the lives of individuals.
Thanks for reading.