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Defining Jesus - Jesus and Listening

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Defining Jesus #2

Jesus and Listening

Mark 4:1-34


We listen in a lot of different ways, don’t we?

Do you listen as if the flight attendant?

What if your flight has been changed and you are trying to listen for the new gate information?  You might even get frustrated with those who AREN’T LISTENING

A question we might ask is, “How do you listen to God?”

2 ways you could answer the question

1.     How are you doing at it?

2.     How do you do it?

Scripture is full of instructions for the people of God to listen to Him.

·          Hear, O Israel…

·          Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God

·          That is the subject of a parable that is one of the more familiar in the NT

o    Sower and seed

o    Interpretation here

§   The Sower is God – and now JESUS

§   The seed is the Word  (14)

o    Parables – not just Aesop’s fables

§   God is speaking, and…

§   We better listen.

§   Parables serve the role often of providing us with a message that we might not want to hear.

·          The parable is simple and is really cross-cultural, isn’t it?  Jesus even interprets it for us.

What does it look like when we don’t listen?


·          Soil of immediate rejection.  Not even “Thanks but no thanks” this is “No thanks”

·          Satan comes and takes it away (15)


·          Positive reception (JOY)

·          Tribulation comes ON ACCOUNT of the Word

·          No root, so outside forces have a terrible effect (16-17)


·          These hear the Word

·          What chokes the seed here is the cares of this world, deceitfulness of things AND a greater desire for other things.

·          Chokes the word, and doesn’t yield fruit (18-19)

What does it look like when we do listen?

Condition of the good soil

·          Hear it

·          Accept it

·          Bear fruit from it

·          What was crucial was the condition of the soil (heart)

It seems straightforward until you get to the…

Isaiah Quote (10-12)

READ QUOTE – (NIV) Mark 4:11-12 11He 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 12so that, “ ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’”

What does it seem to say?

·          Jesus is trying to talk in cryptic sayings so that many people would miss it.  Some might find a secret knowledge.  Is this some sort of a CLUE game?

·          God is intentionally trying to hide things, so that people will not be forgiven.

Is this describing results, or is it revealing God’s intention?

·          If God didn’t want His will known, He wouldn’t have to speak.  He is God, isn’t he?

·          Let’s take a look at the parable.  The seed is sown EVERYWHERE, isn’t it.

·          General teaching of Scripture

o    There is not a person who wants to receive the Word, but finds themselves in a place unable to do so

§   Snodgrass, “It is not God who seeks to thwart turning and forgiveness but the people.”

o    Romans 1 reminds us that no one is left with an excuse when standing before God

·          But, Does God harden the heart?

o    We know that Satan does this

o    Scripture teaches that He does

·          The huge issue here is one of responsibility

o    There seems to be a natural division being created of being an insider and an outsider (11).  This even goes back to the previous chapter of who is listening and doing and who is hindering.

o    If you are not listening, you run the risk of being an outsider

o    There is serious judgment coming if you are in that condition

·          You are not ‘locked in’ to your current soil state

o    You can be changed into another soil  (These disciples would go from faithless to faithful quite often).

·          That cuts both ways.  It is possible to harden your heart.

o    This becomes the classic expression of hard hearts in the OT.

·          There is irony here in that what is bringing hardness of heart should be bringing hearing and obedience.

But, what about this secret (VERSE 11)?  This secret is for sharing

The issue of the secret – The Good News

The odd thing about this mystery is that is meant to be mentioned, the secret is meant to be shared!  There is hope for the outsider.

READ verses 21-25

Good news

·          Jesus is bringing God to light. 

·          He is imaging the one true God.  He is saying that He is God

·          He is showing what the kingdom of God is like.

·          He is proclaiming, he is showing, he is living out, and he will be accomplishing the GOSPEL.  Matthew 13 reminds us of the significance of this moment, saying that “many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear and did not hear it.

·          Romans 10 – those who call will be saved.  Call – Believe – Heard – Preaching – Sending (Faith by hearing, hearing by the Word)

The issue is one of response

·          What will be the most important thing at the end of the day will be how you responded to the kingdom.

One more thing about this secret.  The kingdom has begun and is growing

·          Parable #1 – A seed is growing (26-29)

o    The kingdom does not operate off of the Big Bang Theory

o    A person does not take notice of it

o    It grows and the person takes notice of it at harvest time

·          Parable # 2 – The Mustard Seed (30-32)

o    Something small fosters something huge

o    Isaiah 55:10-11 10“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

So, if the most important thing is hearing, how are we doing?

How can I listen?

Luke 8:18 – Take care then how you hear!

1.     Be in a place where you can receive the Word.

·          Keep following Jesus

·          Listen to His words

o    (Love your neighbor, issues of the heart, Love the Lord your God, Come to me, I have overcome the world, whoever comes to me will not be cast out)

2.     Respond with obedience to what you hear.

·          Verse 33-34

·          It is NOT enough to simply hear good things, we have to respond.

·          Pay attention when you hear love your neighbor

·          James 1:22-25 22But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Date Preached:

10/5/08        OBC Sunday AM

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