Brad Libolt speaking on Mark 4:21-34. He spoke of the great revelation that is the kingdom of God which we have received, and how great the responsibility is that we have to share this gift and reveal it to others, bringing them into God’s kingdom.
- Remember we are taking a small step away from our usual question: “Who is Jesus?” and asking the question: “What is the kingdom?” Last week we talked about soil, and how the kingdom is something that must be received. It is received by good soil, someone who is interested in Jesus and his message and wants to know more.
- So it is our job to receive the kingdom, but we have nothing to receive unless it is first revealed to us. We have a responsibility to say yes to Jesus, to receive the kingdom of God, but we can’t receive anything unless it has first been revealed to us. The kingdom of God is revealed to us by God. We will look at this revelation today in the first parable we will look at, then we will see the responsibility we have once the kingdom has been revealed to us. But, even though we have a responsibility to reveal the kingdom to others, the results that come are not brought about by ourselves, but only by God.
- Let’s take a look at these first few verses, the Revelation of the Kingdom of God.
21 And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? 22 For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
- Jesus continues in his parables and asks if a lamp is meant to be put under a basket or a bed. The obvious answer is no, and the answer to his next question, should it be put on a lamp stand, is an obvious yes. He follows this up by saying that nothing is hidden forever, nothing stays in the dark forever, it will be revealed. It will come to light. So what does this mean?
- The lamp, or the light, is the kingdom.The kingdom is not meant to be hidden, it shouldn’t be put under a basket or a bed, it should be put on a stand where its light can shine.
- And remember what we talked about last week. Not everyone receives the kingdom. Jesus tells parables and those who are interested and want to know more are given the kingdom, but those who don’t want to know more just leave confused. But this next line in Jesus’ saying here points out something very interesting.
- It says that things that are hidden won’t be hidden forever. Secrets will come to light. So even though the kingdom is hidden from some for now it will be revealed to all someday. Not everyone who saw and heard Jesus believed in who he was and received the kingdom of God. Not everyone today who hears about Jesus and sees his work believes in who he is and receives the kingdom. While the kingdom is revealed to some for now it will be revealed to all someday, and on that day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. When he returns to judge all the earth, everyone, whether they believed or not, will see the kingdom of God. For those who received the kingdom of God that day will be one of joy and celebration, knowing that they get to be with their creator forever in his kingdom. For those who have not received the kingdom, it will be a day of judgment and lamentation, as they are separated from their creator forever.
- And it is important to note that on that day, when the kingdom of God is revealed to all, so will all our sin. Everything we have ever done to disobey God, every wrong thought, every wrong action, every wrong word, will be revealed. We can look at that day and be afraid, or look at that day with confidence knowing that even though all of our sin will be revealed, all of our sin is covered by the blood of Jesus.
So a quick side point, if all our sin will be revealed on the last day when the Kingdom is revealed to everyone, then let’s not let that be a surprise. There is great power in the confession of sins, and in bringing things to light. Share your secret sin with someone who loves you and you trust, and get it out in the open. Great healing can come from that.
- The second part of this section expands more on the idea of wanting to know more about who Jesus is. Jesus uses the imagery of measurements, which in that day would have been a scale. So think about it, on one side of a scale you have a measure. If you want ten pounds of bananas form your local banana dealer, you put a ten pound rock on one side of the scale, and then put bananas on the other side until it balances out. Jesus is saying do this, and you will get your ten pounds of bananas, and so much more. But instead of bananas, he is talking again about receiving the kingdom. If you want just ten pounds of the kingdom of God, you will be given that and more. But if you want zero pounds of the kingdom of God, in fact even what you do have will be taken away from you. I will stress this again: if you are interested in Jesus and his message and you want to know him more and love him more and follow him more, then more will be given to you. If you want nothing to do with him or his message, then even what you have will be taken away in the last day when the kingdom is revealed to all.
- So we are throwing out a lot of R words, and we will use more in a minute, but lets make sure we understand where we have been. Last week we learned that the kingdom must be received. And right now we just learned that the kingdom must be revealed. So in order to gain the kingdom of God, to be accepted and included in his kingdom, we must receive it. But we can’t receive it unless it has been revealed to us.
- So how is it revealed? Well first it was revealed by Jesus, in parables. We are reading about that right now. Jesus revealed the kingdom of God to the people he came in contact with by telling them parables. Some received it, and some didn’t, but they had nothing to receive unless it had first been revealed. So if Jesus was the first to reveal it, what about now? Jesus isn’t walking around speaking in parables? No, he isn’t walking around speaking in parables, but he is still speaking. God is speaking to us through his word. He is revealing the kingdom of God to us in these very pages. My hope and prayer is that through my preaching of the word God is revealing himself to you. I hope and pray that the only thing I say on Sundays and Thursdays is what God has already said in these pages, and in doing so, he can reveal himself to you. Jesus revealed the kingdom to his disciples. They received it, and when Jesus ascended into heaven before he left he gave them his Spirit, and told them to go and reveal the kingdom to everyone in the world. And now we have the same gift and mission. We have the Spirit of God inside of us, and with that power we are to go to the ends of the earth and reveal the kingdom of God to everyone.
- How incredible is that? That God would choose to use us in the revelation process, that he would use us in his mission to redeem all of creation to himself. It is an incredible privilege, but also an incredible responsibility. One of my favorite superheroes is Spiderman, and there is a classic quote from Spiderman that everyone knows. With great power comes great responsibility. Well for us, as Christians who have been given the revelation of the kingdom of God, with great revelation comes great responsibility.
- Think about it. We have been entrusted with the greatest news ever, news that saves people’s lives, their eternal souls. The truth of the gospel has been revealed to us because God loves us and saw it fit to do so. And now, because it has been revealed to us, this incredible revelation, we have a responsibility to obey God and go reveal it to others. This means we share the gospel constantly. We should constantly be revealing the kingdom of God and the message of Jesus to people we come in contact with. And remember it isn’t up to us who receives and doesn’t receive, it is just our job to reveal. What is incredible is that even though we have no power to make people receive the kingdom, believe in Jesus, it still happens. How? Take a look at Jesus’ next parable.
26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
- The man plants the seed, you and I spread the gospel, and then our job is done. The sprouting and growth of the seed is not our responsibility, our responsibility is to plant. Our responsibility, because it has been revealed to us, is to reveal the kingdom of God to others.
- So we have been given a great revelation, that we have received, we have the responsibility to reveal the kingdom to others, but not the responsibility to grow the kingdom. And after all that, we see results.
- Take a look at the last parable here.
30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” 33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. 34 He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.
- The kingdom is like a seed that is so small, but grows into something larger than anyone could imagine. And this is so true.
- Think about it. 2000 years ago, in the tiny town of Bethlehem, in a manger, a little baby boy was born. He was born into a poor refugee family, with royal pedigree but no social or economic status. This boy grew up, and started doing crazy things. He healed sick people, gave sight to blind people, and claimed he was the Son of God. He claimed that the only way for people to enter into the kingdom of God was through him. He started with 12 close followers, one of which eventually betrayed him. This man caused controversies with the religious leaders of the day, and was eventually arrested, put on trial, and executed on a criminals cross, an instrument of torture saved from the worst of criminals. His 11 close friends lost all hope, thinking that this man who claimed to be the Messiah couldn’t have been, because now he’s dead. And now, 2000 years and hundreds of cultures and languages later, millions of people around the globe follow this man who’s name was Jesus, believe he was the Son of God, and believe he is the only way to eternal life. So what happened? This man Jesus and his twelve followers were a mere mustard seed in the ancient world. Tiny. Jesus’ message, while profound and controversial, sparked the hopes of some but eventually got him killed. And despite his death, this mustard seed, this tiny spec in the centuries of history in our world, exploded into a massive tree that stretches all over the earth.
- So what happened? The millions of people who believe this man Jesus was more than just a man believe that he didn’t stay dead. They believe that the tomb was empty. They believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and in doing so proved he was who he said he was and validated his mustard seed of a message.
- See without the resurrection, the mustard seed of Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God is just that, a tiny mustard seed. But today that message is a massive tree, it exploded all over the world. How? Not by the power of man, that’s for sure. But by the power of God.
- What an incredible honor it is to be a part of the ministry God is doing in the world. How great of a gift is the revelation of the kingdom of God that we have received, and how great of a responsibility do we have to share this gift and reveal it to others, bringing them into God’s kingdom. At the end of the day, there will be results. People will believe. The seed will grow. But not by our own power or hard work, but by the work of God in and through us. What an incredible blessing it is to be a part of God’s saving work.