20 January 2016

Mark 4:21-25

“And he said to them, ‘Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.’” (vv. 24-25)

Psalm: Psalm 16


From my memories of growing up within the church, verse 25 seemed a lot more popular than verse 24 and both were taken to be about material things. Yet, even with that material view, verse 25 is the passive one, it leaves us stuck with the consequences of the privilege we have. Verse 25 is one that can easily lead us to say given that I'm going to cop it later for what I have now I might as well make the most of it for myself now while I can. Hedonist views such as this appear very common today, even if many who espouse them do not believe in eternal consequences.

On the other hand verse 24 is potentially transforming. We are not stuck with where we are, or with the consequences of what we have. Instead we have choices to make with eternal impact. It appears a far more hopeful position.

However, a completely alternative approach is to take the wider context and connect these sayings with the preceding parable of the sower (see yesterday's passage). Then we might see this being about the teaching of Jesus and our response. The teaching of Jesus is not meant to be hidden, it will come out. Although, I wonder if it is the parable or the explanation that is the light that should not be hidden. Perhaps we are more eager to tell the explanation with the detailed instruction on how to apply this than we are to tell the parable itself and allow people to choose if they want to wrestle with it.

Here verse 24 (again) leads us to hope that if we allow the teaching of Jesus to take root (as if we are the fertile soil) then understanding will come. On the other hand without the desire for and effort at understanding, we will lose even what we already know.

To Ponder

  • When considering Christian Unity how might a focus on what God and God's kingdom is like be more helpful than exactly how individuals should act in response?
  • Do you typically understand verse 24-25 materially or in terms of understanding? Is reflecting on another way of understanding helpful or not? Why?
  • Are you searching for more understanding in some areas of your life? How might verse 25 apply to these?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dave Warnock

Dave Warnock is a Methodist minister in the Leicester North Circuit based in Syston, Leicester. He is passionate about lots of things (including Scripture, discipleship, gender/sexual equality, pacifism and cycling) and loves being part of the Methodist people.