“Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Mark 3: 35
Mark 3-4 (Psalm 96)
· Jesus heals a man’s shriveled hand; the Pharisees and Herodians plot to kill Him (3: 1-6)
· Crowds flock to Jesus as He teaches, heals and casts out demons. He then appoints the twelve Apostles (3: 7-19)
· His family express concern for Him, as crowds again gather, and the teachers accuse Him of being possessed by Beelzebub. Jesus teaches against this and states that those who obey God are actually His family (3: 20-35)
· By the lake, Jesus teaches the parables of the Sower, Growing Seed and Mustard Seed. He explains that the Good News needs to be proclaimed and not hidden (4: 1-34)
· As His teaching finishes they cross the lake but are caught in a storm; Jesus quietens the tempest by a verbal command (4: 35-41)
As Jesus brings the Kingdom of God to the world (1: 15), reactions to its Mission of Reconciliation mount and vary. Jesus demonstrates the reality of the Kingdom with His authority over the physical (in healing 3: 1-6, 10) and spiritual realms (by driving out demons 3: 11-12, 20-30). Some praise Him, many flock to Him and others plot to kill Him. His family fear He is losing His mind and the teachers accuse Him of being possessed. He patiently teaches, corrects with authority and calls His followers to Himself. With regards the latter, He appoints the twelve and welcomes those who obey God as His true family. Jesus summarises the reaction to the Kingdom in the parable of the sower. If the seed of the Kingdom is planted it WILL grow (4: 26-29) into the largest of all Kingdoms (4: 30-32, Daniel 2: 44). The truth of the Kingdom must not be hidden but made known; those who engage in its Mission will be fully equipped (4: 21-25). The secret to a successful Mission is faith not fear; faith in the God who is over creation (4: 35-41).
As Jesus called and designated the twelve as Apostles (3:14-15) so He calls and sends us to be His disciples; to preach, teach and exercise the power of His Kingdom (Matt. 28: 18-20). Obedience to this call ensures membership of God’s family but will bring the full spectrum of response, from rejection and persecution to acceptance and fellowship. We are to carefully listen and understand Jesus’ teaching. We are then meant to apply it, not hide it or keep it to ourselves. If we exercise the power of the Kingdom we gain more of its benefits, if we hide it, what we have will be lost (4: 21-25). Jesus affirms that we are the agents of the Kingdom’s Mission, witnessing in faith, word and deed. The growth of the Kingdom, however, is the work of the Holy Spirit (4: 26-29).
The Question of Application
Considering the parable of the sower, discern which soil, your heart best represents: the soil on the path where Satan has stolen the truth from you; the rocky soil where you once believed with joy but now in times of trouble you have fallen away; the soil full of weeds where the pressures, concerns and deceit of the world makes you unfruitful in the Kingdom; or is your heart like the good soil whereby you are producing much fruit for the Lord? What will you do now?
Lord of the harvest, your Word finds a home in our hearts, calls us into community, and invites us to generous service within your Kingdom. Bless with courage and spirit your family of disciples, called to full participation in the Kingdom’s Mission. May you so equip us that we overcome fear with faith to proclaim and live out your truth; may the work of your Holy Spirit bring rich harvests. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Here I am Lord sung by Eric Tom
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.