November 1st, 2006
Most people are chokers. When they look at things in the cold light of reason, they will readily agree that it is silly to pay a high price for “name brand” goods when unbranded goods of identical quality can be purchased for a much lower price. They will readily agree that it is stupid for them to spend their life in unsatisfying employment and watching unedifying television. They even agree that it is better to live a life serving others, rather than just helping themselves. But when the pressure is on, all their rational thinking goes out the window. They choke on their convictions and end up wasting their resources, their lives, and their chances of making a difference in the world.
Mark’s Account of the Good News — Chapter 4
4:1 Again he began to teach by the sea shore. A large crowd was gathered, so he got into a boat on the water and sat down. The crowd were on the land by the sea. 4:2 He taught them many things in parables, including: 4:3 “Listen! A farmer went out to plant seeds. 4:4 As he planted, some seeds happened to land on the road and the birds came and ate them. 4:5 Others landed on rocky ground where there wasn’t much soil, and they sprouted straight away. 4:6 When the sun rose they were scorched because the soil was shallow, and they withered away because they had no root. 4:7 Others landed amongst thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them so that they produced no grain. 4:8 Others landed in good ground, and sprouted and grew to produce grain, some yielding thirty times, some sixty times, and some one hundred times as much as was planted.” 4:9 He said, “Anyone who has ears to hear should hear.”
4:10 When he was alone, those who were around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 4:11 He said, “You get to understand the mystery of the Kingdom of God, but everything is said in parables to outsiders, 4:12 so that, ‘Seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; or else perhaps they might turn again, so that their sins could be forgiven.'”
4:13 He said, “Don’t you understand this parable? How will you understand all of the parables? 4:14 The farmer plants the word. 4:15 Some people are just like the road when the word is scattered on them. Satan comes as soon as they hear and takes away the word which has been planted in them. 4:16 Other people are like the rocky ground. They hear the word and immediately receive it with joy, 4:17 but they have don’t let it grow roots in their lives and it is temporary. They stumble as soon as oppression or persecution arises because of the word. 4:18 Others are like the thorny ground. These people hear the word, 4:19 but let it get choked out by the worries of the world and the false promises of riches and desire for other things, and they become unfruitful. 4:20 People who are like the good ground are those who hear the word and accept it, and they produce grain, some thirty times, some sixty times, and some one hundred times as much as was planted.”
4:21 He asked, “Is a lamp intended to be put under a basket or under a bed? Isn’t it put on a stand? 4:22 Nothing is hidden that won’t be made known, and nothing is secret that won’t come to light. 4:23 Anyone who has ears to hear should hear.”
4:24 He said, “Take care about what you are hearing. You will be assessed by the same standard which you apply in assessing it, even more so. 4:25 Whoever has will be given more, and those who don’t have will have taken away even the little which they have.”
4:26 He said, “The Kingdom of God is like when a person scatters seed on the earth, 4:27 then sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows, although the person doesn’t know how. 4:28 The earth produces all by itself: first the stem, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 4:29 But as soon as the grain is ripe the person attacks it with a sickle because it is harvest time.”
4:30 He said, “How can we portray the Kingdom of God? What parable can we use for it? 4:31 It’s like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of seeds when it is planted, 4:32 yet grows up to become larger than all the herbs and has branches which are so large that birds are able to nest in their shade.”
4:33 He explained the word to them using as many similar parables as they were able to hear. 4:34 He didn’t speak to them without using parables, but privately he explained everything to his disciples.
4:35 When evening arrived he said, “Let’s go over to the other side.” 4:36 They left the crowd and took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were also with him. 4:37 A storm arose with gale force winds and the waves battered the boat, so that the boat was almost filled with water. 4:38 He was sleeping on a cushion in the back of the boat, so they shook him awake, saying, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are dying?”
4:39 Waking up, he rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” The wind stopped and there was a dead calm. 4:40 He said, “What makes you so scared? Why do you have no faith?”
4:41 They were terrified and said to one another, “Who is this? Even the wind and sea obey him!”