Each week throughout the ReMarkAble series at First Baptist Church, Pastor Matt Clausen (or whomever preaches on Sunday) will provide a brief post that supplements the sermon content from the Sunday before. The supplement post for Mark Four is being posted a bit late, but still helpful as we continue to examine the life o Jesus through Mark's Gospel. I will try to post them on Mondays following the sermon. Here is a link to the sermon on Mark Four, and below is Matt's Sermon Supplement. We have additional content to support the Mark series, and you can read more about it here.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear
In Mark 4, Jesus tells a crowd of thousands a parable about a man who sows seed into four different kinds of soil. Jesus would later explain the parable, but at first hearing there are some confusing elements in the imagery he has chosen. The meaning of each element wasn’t imminently clear to many of his original hearers and it isn’t clear to many of us either.
After the parable we read,
9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that
“they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.”
13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? (Mark 4:9-13)
Seeing equals having magic cognition?
Mark’s gospel is constantly differentiating between having faith and having a hard heart. Jesus’ crowd is filled with people who have both. There are those who want to kill him (Mark 3:6), those who have accused him of working for Satan (Mark 3:22) and some who are following for healing and an entertaining show (Mark 3:9-10). There are others, who in faith have committed their lives to following him (Mark 1:16-20).
Jesus says he uses parables as a dividing line between those with faith who have “ears to hear” and those with hard hearts who “will not perceive.” The Kingdom of God is revealed to those with faith through these parables while the Kingdom remains veiled to those with hard hearts through the same parables.
When I was a kid this teaching frightened me because I imagined that those with faith received some sort of magic cognition from God to understand all the parables while those without faith didn’t understand them. I knew I didn’t understand all the parables the first time I read them so I wondered if I had faith, since I didn’t have the magic cognition (ears to hear) that allowed you to understand all parables immediately.
Seeing equals seeking more of Jesus
However, the passage is clear that the difference between those who have faith and receive the secrets of the Kingdom and those with hard hearts who do not, isn’t magic cognition to instantly understand all parables. The passage makes it clear that the people with faith to whom the secrets of the Kingdom are being revealed didn’t understand the parable when they heard it either. Jesus has to explain it to them. The difference between those with faith and those with hard hearts is that that those with faith seek more of the Kingdom. The followers of Jesus aren’t separated from those without faith by magic understanding but by their willingness to pursue more of Jesus and seek more about the Kingdom. In faith they seek more while those with hard hearts don’t care enough to seek more.
That is the same thing that separates those with faith from those with hard hearts today. Those with faith seek more of Jesus, greater understanding of the Kingdom, more of God.
"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." – Hebrews 11:6