< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: April 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mark 4: 26-34

Mark 4:26-34 26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”
33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

Jesus wraps up His teaching for the time being with these two parables. In verses 26 to 29 the Kingdom of God is a phrase that encompasses all of God’s redemptive activity. Today it’s the church. God saves souls and builds His church.

Man plays his part in the process of kingdom planting, but God is the genius.

In verse 26, the farmer is sowing seed. Christians are called to take the seed of the gospel and spread it. In verse 27: after you “seed” you rest. But God isn’t sleeping. He grows the seed. The farmer knows that it happens, but he doesn’t know how. Here we trust God. If He can make a tree come from a tiny mustard seed, He can change our hearts. He is an amazing miracle worker! We can trust that if we cast the seed, He will make it work.

In verse 29 the farmer harvests. Harvesting or reaping is disciple making. And that’s another of Jesus’ commands for us. To go and make disciples. We do this once they’ve heard the message and God starts His work. We engage them, encourage them, and help them.

In verses 30 through 32 the birds nesting in the trees are the souls of men coming to the church. The church (tree) shelters them from the sun, gives them rest from their flight and protects them from hunters. The church needs to be big and strong to support its members. And the members can’t just sit next to the tree or fly around it, they have to come close and commit.

From this section we learn we must know the gospel well and spread it liberally. Then trust the Savior with all our heart and commit to the church with all our might.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mark 4: 21-25

Mark 4:21-25 21 He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”
24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

There are three reasons to spread Gospel Seed.

1. The gospel light is designed to shine. We need to share and shine the light of Christ. Sometimes we hide it because of false modesty, sometimes because we are timid or embarrassed by the gospel and sometimes we say we don’t know enough. (But if we know enough to be saved we know enough to tell someone else how to be saved!) Or we hide it because we are selfish. We are to draw near to Christ by trusting in His work and turning from our sin.

2. The gospel message is made for broadcast. Verse 22 in this passage tells us that it’s not meant to be hidden or kept for an elite group. It’s designed to be shared with everyone! The knowledge of the gospel isn’t ours to accumulate, but to disseminate. And we should have a strategy to spread it. To share with boldness and joy.

3. The gospel message is primed for reward. Verses 24 and 25 show us that a minimalist approach to Christianity will lead to a painful life. But a generous approach will lead to a fruitful life of reward and blessing. We just need to be who He designed us to be!

How much seed are you spreading?

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mark 4:1-20

Mark 4:1-20 1 Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. 2 He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: 3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” 10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’”

13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

In Mark 1 through 3 we saw Jesus’ examples and miracles. His love. Starting with chapter 4 we hear His teachings. And it’s easier to embrace the love of Jesus Christ then it is His truth.

A parable has only one meaning. The sower is the evangelist, who takes the see (the gospel) and scatters it. The soil is the human heart.

Jesus gives us the purpose of the parable in verses 11 and 12. There were a lot of people following Jesus at this time, but many were only there for what they could get from Him or see more miracles. They had hard hearts. They had a spirit of judgementalism. If you have a hard heart you won’t understand what He said.

Psalm 18:25-26 25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 26 to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.

If you come to Jesus, come for what He wants to give you! The point of this parable is to test the quality of the soil of our hearts. Jesus is asking us to consider our faithfulness and our fruitfulness.

He gives us the four different responses to His message:

1. Non receptive. A hard heart. It rejects the gospel.
2. Shallow heart. It springs up fast, but because it has no roots it dies. We have to go beyond the admiration and interest and engage.
3. Strangled heart. It’s receptive, but divided. Too many other cares and interests in the world. From the surface it looks clear, but there are roots and weeds below.
4. Fertile heart. They hear it, accept it and bear fruit.

The others all heard too. The difference here is the fruitfulness. The test for how our hearts are is how fruitful we are.
Seeds are designed to make more fruit that have more seeds. Christians are designed to make more Christians. Scatter your seeds liberally!

I've written about this parable before: Parable of the Soils

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