Mark 4:1-13: It’s alright to ask.

“Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered round 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. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: ‘Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.’  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?” NIV UK

Keep doing what you’ve been called to do (1a): ‘’Again…’’ (1) Jesus ‘’began to’’ do what He’d done before, and would do many times more. There is something important about persevering in the ministry God has given you, whether the results are spectacular or not. You know, like Jesus, that not all the ‘’seed’’ you sow will fall on ‘’good soil.’’ However, some will, so keep going. Do it most of all because you’ve been called to it. Just recently Dr. Haddon Robinson died. He was widely respected as both a preacher and teacher of preaching and preachers. I read some wonderful comments about him. One of them reflected his belief that regular, faithful, Biblical preaching has a major influence over time.There is a build up effect through the years. We have to keep going.

Keep thinking creatively about what you’re doing (1b): Don’t be afraid to innovate; to get into the odd ‘’boat’’ every now and then. Let’s never do things differently just for the sake of being different; but may we always be flexible enough to adjust our methods to the needs of the hour. Jesus did not stop teaching the Word. Some things are fixed and can never be changed. Yet although we have an unchanging message, we can be open to the possibility that the Spirit might show us changing means and methods of getting it across.

Keep scattering gospel seed (3, 4): Whatever your individual calling may be – and we have noted the need to persevere in it, whatever it is – every disciple is called to sow the seed of the Word. I just happened to be prayerfully reading this passage on a recent Saturday morning, when I was preparing to go to our church book table. We have this ministry on the first Saturday of the month, in the middle of our village. For somewhere between 15 – 20 years, we have given away probably thousands of brand new Christian books. I was reminded that some of this seed must fall on good ground. In fact, we already have evidence that it has. We also have the evidence of faith (Hebrews 11:1) in our hearts which shows us much more than we have ever seen with our eyes. We must keep sowing gospel words and deeds into this world. The results are in God’s Hands (26-29).

Keep praying (10, 11 and 34): Prayer is not just asking for things; it can also be asking about things; requesting further information; seeking wisdom, insight, revelation, understanding (James 1:5ff). It says here that they ‘’asked him about the parables. He told them…’’ They ‘’asked’’ and He ‘’told them.’’ It’s alright to ask.

Some words of Pastor William Still, written to his congregation in Aberdeen, in July 1980, seem to be pertinent to today’s subject: ‘The difference between liberals and conservatives is simply that we take the words of the Bible seriously and believe them, and that seems to work. For when the authority of the Word is harnessed to the power of the Holy Spirit through prayer…the church is quickened, numbers are added, the Christian life of worship, study, prayer and service becomes soberly exciting.’