God wants more Kyles. (Sermon on Mark 4)

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To watch this sermon click here.
So Jessica went to see her favorite band. She spent the entire day waiting in line so she could have front row. Meeting people and discussing all of her favorite songs. Sharing all of her favorite memories. This after all was her eighteenth time seeing the band. She’d never met the lead singer, but she’d heard stories. Read interviews. In fact she had a perfect idea in her mind of just the kind of person the lead singer was. When the concert started they played a song she’d seen them play 14 of the 18 times. And she rolled her eyes. She still sang because she knew every word and she wanted the band to see her excited. But when a fan claimed it was their favorite song she assumed she must be new to the band. The band had MUCH better songs than this one.

 

Another fan Michael had actually snagged the bands setlist before the show. He was excited to see the songs he hoped for and told everyone around them what the band was going to play that night. After all he paid top dollar to get a good seat. Though some were upset with Michael.

 

Kyle who sat on the lawn came with his friends. He enjoyed the bands hits. Though he didn’t know much more than this. He was interested in hearing new music. Kyle closed his eyes and enjoyed.

 

 

Tonight, we’re talking about Parables. See I was challenged this week because I REALLY wanted to teach on Jesus calming the storm. But that is just not where things were led. Maybe I’ll find a way to give that story a shout out. But tonight will be a little more pause and go. We’re going to have fun with this okay?

 

Chapter 4 of Mark’s Good News.

So we talked about God’s Kingdom, God’s Law, God’s family and now…God’s protection. So if everyone has a bible, we’re really going to walk through this chapter. Because each story is super rich with insight. Jesus basically has a long monologue. He talks more here than he has yet in this Gospel and you can’t really sum it up. So let’s follow along together:

Chapter 4:

4 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

So ya’ll have ears. Alright well in my opening story. And I’ll share it again if need be, what did you hear? Pay attention now!

So Jessica went to see her favorite band. She spent the entire day waiting in line so she could have front row. Meeting people and discussing all of her favorite songs. Sharing all of her favorite memories. This after all was her eighteenth time seeing the band. She’d never met the lead singer, but she’d heard stories. Read interviews. In fact she had a perfect idea in her mind of just the kind of person the lead singer was. When the concert started they played a song she’d seen them play 14 of the 18 times. And she rolled her eyes. She still sang because she knew every word and she wanted the band to see her excited. But when a fan claimed it was their favorite song she assumed she must be new to the band. The band had MUCH better songs than this one.

 

Another fan Michael had actually snagged the bands setlist before the show. He was excited to see the songs he hoped for and told everyone around them what the band was going to play that night. After all he paid top dollar to get a good seat. Though some were upset with Michael.

 

Kyle who sat on the lawn came with his friends. He enjoyed the bands hits. Though he didn’t know much more than this. He was interested in hearing new music. Kyle closed his eyes and enjoyed.

 

If you could maybe give one word that was the central point of that parable what would you say it was?

Well I emailed it out to friends back home and staff at Austin Ridge. Here’s my favorite interpretations:

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Phillip Williams who is teaching here next week was a bit more deep:
Jessica and Michael desperately desire to feel significant and like they matter in this world.  They attached their significance to something great, influential, moving and exciting (like the band) and, as a result, they feel like they matter. They then used that identity to compare themselves with others they deem less significant because they don’t know the band like they do and this makes them feel more significant.

 

Kyle is not coming to create an association with the band or an empowered view of himself that makes him worthy of attention and adoration. He is coming to enjoy being in the presence of something inspiring and beautiful that he knows he was made to enjoy.”

 

He was close but not quite.

Mary Arnold she said : “If Jessica really appreciated the band—she would enjoy every song even if it wasn’t her “favorite(s).” Michael was excited to see what was to come, but others around him like the surprise. Finally Kyle is a chill guy. I would want to go with Kyle to the concert. “ Mary is trying to date my fictional parable character.

 

Her answer is good…But still not quite.

 

Well I’m not going to tell you what it means just yet. But I think we’ve illustrated an interesting point.

Some people hear.

But they don’t hear.

Words reach ears but they’re not always understood.

Parables share truth. But sometimes people don’t understand the message. So why would Jesus teach in this way. After this first parable mark writes in verse 33. With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable…

 

So why would Jesus teach in such a confusing way? I mean even the disciples are confused. And so they ask Jesus:

 

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.”

So wait now…Jesus is teaching in a way that would bar people from turning and being forgiven?

 

Now Like I said it’s going to be stop and go. So stop. Think about that. And go to Isaiah 6.

6 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train[a] of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

So point 1. Isaiah has seen the LORD in his glory.

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

So point 2: Isaiah is moved by the power of God and he sees the need of God in his life and the lives of others. He believes.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

Isaiah’s Commission from the Lord

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

Point 3: Isaiah is going to share the word of God to people.
And he said, “Go, and say to this people: (he’s straight up calling them out)

“‘Keep on hearing but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull,[e]
and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

Point 4: These people hear the words of God and yet they do nothing with it. They see God’s glory and yet haven’t accepted it. God addresses their circumstance and what they are missing.

They have ears but don’t hear. So to make a point close to home for me. It’s like being taught Algebra but you actually hate Algebra so you just don’t want to learn because you know you’ll never use it. And so you struggle with Algebra. Isaiah hears…and he hears. But to those he’s gone to teach they keep being given the word of God and yet they keep leaving it. They don’t actually care. They continue in their uncleanliness. There were limitations to what Isaiah would succeed. He’s was going to teach a bunch of Algebra students who had no desire to learn Algebra. And yet he taught to unreceptive people. God’s judgement then falls on the hardened people. To these people less is given and to those who are receptive more is given. Mercy is given. Isaiah was used to confirm that Israel was hard in heart.

Jesus uses this story in Isaiah to illustrate he is dealing with a similar circumstance. And as a result the situation will be treated the same way. In parables.

In Mark we see how much of Israel has already rejected God’s kingdom and Jesus as King. Leading up to this chapter, every time Jesus teaches what happens? People come to hear him speak…but they don’t come to hear what he has to say. They come to trump him. Catch him messing up. Hear him say something they don’t like.

2:7 Why does this man speak like that? He is blashpheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?

2:16: Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?

2:18 Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?

2:24 Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?

3:2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him.

3:5 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

3:21 “He is out of his mind.”

3:22 “He is possessed by Beelzebul!”

See Jesus is teaching he’s performing miracles. People are hearing and they are seeing. And yet they aren’t seeing. They aren’t hearing.

And Jesus is tired of it. Don’t tell people that I healed you. Because if you do people will see but they won’t see. They’ll only be looking for signs. Not for the king. These people aren’t listening to grow and be changed. Saved. And so I will no longer teach for their ears lest they should turn and be forgiven.

See people will find their way into the kingdom that have no interest in the kingdom. There’s those teachings in John’s Gospel about sheeps and goats. Some people join the kingdom in vain.

Think of it in terms of football. The bandwagon fan. There are probably tons of people buying Carolina Panther jerseys and shirts right now. But what’s going to happen in five years when maybe they’re just another average team. Well the people who are truly about the Carolina Panthers will continue to fill the stands and watch the games. But the bandwagon fans…well they’ll lose their passion. They’ll go and follow whatever new team is on top. They will fill their lives with something new.

Jesus he protects his kingdom from this kind of thing. Some people (the very people who think they’re the biggest fans, the chosen people of God) they aren’t interested in the kingdom of God. What does it say in chapter 3 verse 6. It says the Pharissees held counsel with the Herodians. The Jewish people of Herods kingdom. They join forces with the kingdom of Herod to try and destroy the King. Destroy the kingdom of God. Some people crowd around Jesus because he’s performing miracles and giving signs.

I love the words Jesus uses in John:
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

See some people today they claim Christianity. But really they need a sign. They need hard proof. They claim Christianity because their afraid of what would happen if they don’t. But this need of proof it holds them back from experiencing the kingdom. Experiencing the proof! Blessed are those who have not seen and yet still believe.

So Jesus is protecting his kingdom. From the bandwagon fans. From the people who aren’t really in it. He’s protecting his kingdom from those disrupting his teachings. Those out to discredit his every word. And so Jesus teaches in parables. And his first parable reveals the truth of all parables. It’s the key to understanding entrance to his kingdom. Now if you ever feel like you weren’t invited into this kingdom I want you to notice something….we have the explanation of the parable. It’s right here in front of you. The Pharisees didn’t the bandwagon fans didn’t. We do. But I also want you to realize the mess that many today have made of “God’s kingdom.” Many claim to be members but maybe they aren’t. And so let’s find ourselves in this parable.

Okay we’ll read the parable one more time.

“Listen! (Which I love his command is to Listen! Jesus is like here I’m setting you up pay attention.) Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.

Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away.

Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.

And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

He ends with a challenge alright you think you’ve been hearing well now we’ll see. Which leans you into a desire, a curiosity. Well…what did that mean? Maybe like some of you are feeling right now with my parable that started us off.

13 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? This parable is the key to all further teachings.

14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.

People on the path are going to get walked on and nothing more will come of their faith and desire. They are quickly distracted.

 

16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

Let’s just call these the camp salvation kids. They had a high emotion conversion but then reality hit and they realized maybe they weren’t so sure about Jesus after all.

 

18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

These are the people with idols. They miss the kingdom as the goal and pursue other things like wealth, sex, power, beauty.

20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

But those with the good soil. They are the ones who see the kingdom as the prize. The world isn’t a distraction. Life doesn’t distract. Troubles don’t distract. Because this life isn’t the goal. They live in a way that calls other to the kingdom. The kingdom grows.

 

So which one are you? For me, I’ve been each of these at one point or another in my life. There’s the atheist or the challenger that hears God’s word but is quickly distracted with questions. In fact while that word is being shared they are already loading up their rebuttle. And so they don’t really listen. They are yanked away from their ears actually hearing.

Are you the camp salvation kid. Where you heard the gospel in a high emotion environment. You’re kind of scared of that whole hell thing and so you claim Christianity. You maybe even read your bible but really your heart isn’t sure. It’s more a selfish desire for your future rather than a joy to live for the kingdom. This is likely the most common. It’s more a selfish desire for your future rather than a joy to live for the kingdom.

Are you the idolater or the worrier? You obsess over the control of your life. You’re the king of your kingdom. And so you fill it with treasures to make you feel powerful. You like to feel control and so you actively try to fix peoples problems and relationships rather than surrender yourself and others to the true king.

Or are you the one that grows? That not only hears but HEARS. That not only sees but SEES. Do you have faith. I want to remind you how the bible defines faith.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and certainty of what we do not see.-Hebrews 11:1

Do you have that? Certainty? Confidence?

The kingdom is most beautiful when all of its citizens see the beauty of the king. When they hear. When they see. Some call this Heaven.

See Jesus is trying to communicate this not just to the disciples. But to those who don’t hear. To those who don’t see. Because the mystery of Christ is the invitation.

The mystery of not understanding draws his followers in. Because look, they don’t understand the parable either. But to those in the kingdom, more is given. And it is inside that mystery that the truth is revealed.

And that’s the point of my parable.

Jessica is obsessed with knowing. She absorbed herself in all things God but she’s never really met God. She’s studied everything and even has answers but when the music, the beauty finds other people, she’s critical of God. She only wants God to meet her expectations. She’s robbed of the wonder.

Michael he’s like Jessica. Michael robs the mystery from others. He doesn’t allow others the wonder of the mystery. He doesn’t allow people to simply experience God he makes them see what he sees and takes away from the beauty of mystery and experience and being led by God. He robs the joy of discovery. Michael thinks he is the king. Rather than letting God.

And Kyle, my good friend Kyle. He’s just happy to be in the presence of God. He’s heard about God and he wants to know him more intimately. He’s just happy to learn the new things. He enjoys the beauty of the mystery and being within the kingdom.

God wants more Kyles.

In the next chapter Jesus comes to heal a dead girl and when Jesus speaks that she’s only sleeping, people laugh at him. They didn’t believe. And so he puts them outside. To those who believe they get to stay and see the beauty. They get to see the kingdom. They get to see the girl rise up and walk out. And only they got to see the reality that happened. All others were left to speculate.

So how do you respond to the word of God? Which seed are you? Because the kingdom of God is a wonderful mystery. But when you’re inside that mystery. When you desire the kingdom of God. When you’ve seen him. And you’ve heard him.

 

Well then you get the message.

 

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