Mark 4:21-25 “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

Posted on December 22, 2008. Filed under: The Gospel of Mark |

Mark 4:21-25 “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

Sunday 5 December 1999 AM



I. The Word Is A Lamp

II. How To Listen To The Word

III. How We Hide Our Lamps

IV. Do You Hear To Share?



Introduction: We are studying together the Gospel of Mark seeking a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and what the good news is and how we should respond to Jesus and the Gospel. We have entered the portion of Mark’s gospel that has many parables in it. Last week we finished the parable of the sower and now we have this story of the lamp on a stand which seeks to explain further what we learned in the Sower parable.

One aspect of the Sower parable we did not address was vss11-12 (read). Today’s parable helps address that. If you receive the secrets of the Kingdom, what do you do with it? Do we keep the secrets to ourselves? Do we hide the lamp under our beds?

Have you ever been told a secret that was huge, important, juicy, and you had to keep it bottled up inside without telling anyone? Well here in God’s Kingdom we are supposed to tell our secrets! We are supposed to tell the mysteries of the faith, we are to proclaim the gospel.

In the ancient heresy of Gnosticism there were deep mysteries that were withheld from newcomers until they had been initiated into the faith and had grown in the cult. Today’s cult groups operate the same way, they present their faith as being very biblical, practical, and intelligible as they entice new members in; but then later, step by step, they slowly indoctrinate their prey in the esoteric doctrines that are highly illogical, unhistorical and nonsensical.

We are called by Jesus to let our light shine, not to hide it under a bushel or bed. Are we shining forth the gospel as we ought? Are we listening to what the Savior has for us in His Word? Are we considering it carefully?

I. The Word Is A Lamp.

In the previous parable the Word was the seed, the gospel seed. Now we see the Word as the lamp. The purpose of the lamp would be hindered if it was placed under a bowl or the bed, lamps are to be placed on the stand, as Matthew 5:15 says,” Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the room.” Psalm 119:105 “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Prov.6:23 “For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light…” Let’s spend some time thinking about this idea of the gospel being a lamp.

First of all this assumes that there is darkness, there is a need for light. This theme of light and darkness begins in Genesis 1:4 “God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.” Darkness was chaotic, it was the absence of light; light was proclaimed good, not the darkness. Light is the first creative act of God and it goes against the darkness. Paul writes in Eph 5:8″ For you were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” Peter writes 1Pet.2:9 “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” John records John3:19 “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” and 8:12 “I am the light of the world, Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The world is full of darkness, the fall in the garden resulted in separation from God, man’s heart was darkened by sin as the light was snuffed out. For countless millenniums man has wandered in darkness and sin. Sacrificing to man made idols representing demons, victimizing others, man has made the earth a living hell for most people most of the time. The darkness that fills the heart of lost man is impenetrable by education, religion, morals, good works of any kind; until the heart of man is enlightened by God, man remains in the dark.

The gospel is the light that penetrates the dark of man’s sin. The gospel acts as a brilliant spotlight, a laser beam of highly focused light, that illuminates our soul, revealing the sin that lurks malevolently there. The Law exposes where we have failed to meet God’s standards and condemns us, showing that on our own we are hopeless. Then the good news of the gospel shows us who Jesus is and what He has accomplished for us. Jesus kept the law perfectly and died as the perfect sacrifice for our sins so that we could be forgiven, made just in God’s eyes.

II. How To Listen To The Word.

This text is all about us and how we listen to the Word “if anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. Consider carefully what you hear,” This echoes what Jesus said in the parable of the sower “v9 He who has ears to hear let him hear.” He is calling us to pay special attention to what he is saying, to listen with our minds, with our spiritual ears wide open, with a teachable heart. This requires deep thought, humility, prayer. How are we to listen? How can we improve our listening? How can we improve our spiritual discernment?

JD Jones, writing in 1914 says, “Hearing is not the simple matter some people think. It is not merely a case of possessing the physical faculty of hearing. For the wayside hearer heard, and the rocky-ground hearer heard, and the thorn patch hearer heard. That is to say, they heard the words, but they profited nothing by them; for they did not hear with the soul, they did not understand, they did not accept the word. Hearing, I repeat, demands more than the mere physical faculty. It demands the earnest attention of the mind, the prepared heart, the receptive soul. You would think it strange if your minister should come upon the Lord’s day into the pulpit without having prepared himself to speak. It is, however, equally blameworthy to come and sit in the pews before him unless you have prepared yourselves to hear… The Word will only profit us as we receive it with meekness into honest and good hearts. Take heed what ye hear. Listen , said our Lord, with all earnestness. But be sure first of all that it is the kind of thing to which you ought to listen. There is to be election and selection in the case of the things to which we listen. I think our Lord had in view the fact that false teachers would come teaching pernicious and deadly heresies.” quote p.104.

How can we be better hearers of the word? 1) Come to worship prayerfully, expectantly, leaving behind busyness, worldly thoughts, bitterness, and criticisms. 2)Come to worship already informed. A week without Bible reading or study will weaken your desire for God’s Word. You pretty much are aware of my preaching plan, study ahead. 3)Study on your own, find some good books to read. (Phil’s story from work). 4)Obedience begets an increasing hunger for the things of God. Application builds up your faith. Teens, in history class and English class don’t you take notes? Have you considered taking notes from the sermons so that you can record your study of Mark’s gospel. In the new year I will be preaching at night on the Baptist Faith and Message kids, that would be a great time to take notes too.

Consider carefully what you hear says Jesus. There is a lot of heresy and bad doctrine out there, many of my friends at work listen to teachers and preachers that major on minors, teach way out of balance, and teach false doctrines. Many folks purchase a lot of Christian fiction in Dawn’s bookstore, many believers will read all kinds of literature but will not read something doctrinal and challenging in nature. In the fight for the souls of our generation we had better be well schooled, trained in the core of our faith.

III.How We Hide Our Lamps.

Jesus says for us to not hide it under a bowl. To hide the light under a bowl may be comfortable for us. Under the bowl the light shines all around us and fills us with its warmth. We are dazzled by the light and feel so fulfilled by its splendor. But as we reflect upon ourselves under the bowl and bask in our own glory, we lose perspective on our mission, and on God. An inward reflecting religion causes us to focus on ourselves instead of God, and minister solely to ourselves instead of the world.

Jones describes a few ways that we hide our lamps: “There is the bushel of modesty, false modesty. ‘O Lord, I am not eloquent’, said Moses; and we excuse ourselves today from bearing our testimony on the ground that we are not good enough or wise enough to speak, and so we turn the soul into a dark lantern. And then there is the bushel of selfishness. We do not trouble ourselves that other people are in the dark. And then there is the bushel of timidity and cowardice. Do we not sometimes hide our faith? In certain society do we not keep silence about our Christian allegiance? We are disciples, but secretly. We do not boldly announce it. We keep our lamp under a bushel.”

Think of Nicodemus who came to Jesus secretly at night, but at the crucifixion he and Joseph of Arimethea came to claim the body of our Lord and to give him a proper burial. A secret disciple today is one who goes to church on Sunday and may even read his/her Bible during the week, but at work they are silent. “Oh I witness by my lifestyle” Good! That is the starting point, but if you end there you are being disobedient. To share the good news, to give an encouraging word from the Bible should be as natural for us as eating.

IV. Do You Hear To Share?

Why aren’t you sharing the Word? Why are you hiding what God has done for you under a bowl?

JC Ryle writes in 1857 “All that believers have is undoubtedly of grace. Their repentance, faith, and holiness are all the gifts of God. But the degree to which a believer attains in grace is always set before us as closely connected with his own work in the use of means of grace, and his own faithfulness in living fully up to the light and knowledge which he possesses. Indolence and laziness are always discouraged in God’s Word. Labor and pains in hearing , reading and prayer are always represented as bringing their own reward. Attention to this great principle is the main secret to spiritual prosperity. Those who make rapid progress in spiritual attainments- who grow visibly in grace, knowledge, strength, and usefulness- will always be found to be hard workers. They leave no stone unturned to promote their soul’s well doing. They work hard at the Bible, in private devotions, in hearing sermons… And they reap according to what they sow.”

Let me try to delicately say something that is a terribly difficult truth. If we keep our light under a bushel, and fail to exercise our faith in appropriate ways, we lose our ability to exercise our faith. Just like a muscle that we do not use withers, so to, do our mental and spiritual abilities atrophy and wither if we do not use them. If we fail to study the Bible, to learn how to study the Bible in our younger days, if we fail to learn how to teach the Bible, how to witness, how to defend the faith, then after a while we look around and wonder why we don’t have a vibrant faith, why we don’t bear good spiritual fruit. We grow cold in the faith, and become mere creatures of religious habit. We wonder what God’s purpose for us is after years of neglecting god’s purpose for us.

And if we in a church have neglected to let our light shine for a long time, eventually we recognize that our light has grown small and dim, few in numbers. Entire denominations, even countries that used to be Christian have slowly grown dim through the years of spiritual neglect.


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