Mark 4:21- “Then he asked them, “When someone lights a lamp, does he put a box over it to shut out the light? Of course not! The light couldn’t be seen or used. A lamp is placed on a stand to shine and be useful.” TLB
I have been reading the Bible for decades. There are times when I have read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, word for word, at least three times in a year. I said that to say this, it never ceases to amaze me how often we can read and study the Bible, and then one day, the light goes on, and we get it! Even if gaining understanding includes me letting go of what I thought I already knew. The Word is alive and active and is revealed to us when we are ready for it, and that’s the point of today’s blog!
When we think of buried treasure, we think of the days of the pirates, when they would board another vessel, take all of their treasures, and go to an isolated island and bury their treasure. But sometimes buried treasure can be found in other places. Last year, as a man was gardening in his yard, he found 63 gold coins and one silver coin from the 15th century. Their value is unknown! I was amazed at the stories on the internet about people finding treasures in their yards and attics. It’s an exciting read! But the hidden gems that lie in the Word of God are also invaluable and are hidden in plain sight!
Jesus spoke a parable to the people in the first part of chapter four. In this parable, He addressed the four types of soil, or heart conditions, that the word encounters. (That was my previous blog)! Although I ended the blog after the explanation, Jesus had not finished His comments about the purpose of parables.
Then He asked them, “When someone lights a lamp, does he put a box over it to shut out the light? Of course not! The light couldn’t be seen or used. A lamp is placed on a stand to shine and be useful.”Mark 4:21 TLB
With this statement, it appears that Jesus has changed topics, but He has not. He is still addressing His reason for using parables. Jesus brought up the subject of a lamp. At that time, if they wanted to see after the sun went down or in a room with little sunlight, they needed to light a lamp. Jesus uses the lamp, a familiar object, as He did the soil, the seed, and the sower. What value is a lamp that is under a box? It is of no value because it cannot be seen. The purpose of the lamp is to place it where it gives off light and is helpful. Parables, therefore, are to be understood, so He wasn’t trying to keep us from knowing what He was talking about!
“All that is now hidden will someday come to light. If you have ears, listen! And be sure to put into practice what you hear. The more you do this, the more you will understand what I tell you. To him who has shall be given; from him who has not shall be taken away even what he has.Mark 4:22-25 TLB
Jesus tells His disciples that the things that He shares in parables may be hidden at the time of sharing, but someday they will be understood. He implies that just like a lamp is not helpful if it is hidden, neither will the kingdom’s message be beneficial if it remains hidden. Inside every parable are nuggets, pearls of wisdom and truth, waiting to be revealed, and it all depends on how you hear it!
If you have ears, listen up! If you get stuck on the sower, you’ll miss the concept of the heart. If you get stuck on the impossibility of a man being born again of a woman, you will miss the power of transformation that happens at salvation. Listen up!
The more we learn to pay attention to the word, the greater our understanding will be. As we gain knowledge of the kingdom’s message and then live and share it, the more He will reveal to us. If we choose to hear it and refuse to accept it or share it, we will lose what we had.
This verse reminds me of what Paul said in Ephesians 3, as he explained the mystery of the gospel in relationship to the Gentiles:
To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ.”Ephesians 3:8-9 NKJV
The mystery of the kingdom of God was hidden in God and revealed in Jesus, then it was revealed to His apostles by the Holy Spirit! Maybe you are thinking, “If this is so important for everyone to know, why is it hidden?”
He replied, “You are permitted to know some truths about the Kingdom of God that are hidden to those outside the Kingdom: ‘Though they see and hear, they will not understand or turn to God, or be forgiven for their sins.’Mark 4:11-12 TLB
Jesus told the disciples that the understanding of the parables was available to those in the kingdom, but those outside the kingdom will not understand it or turn to God. I believe Paul gave us the answer when he wrote that the Holy Spirit revealed it to him. When we are in the kingdom of God, seeking to understand the kingdom, the Holy Spirit helps us with our understanding. It might come through a blog like this one, or through the preaching of the Word you hear in church, or even your quiet time with Him, but it will come because He wants us to understand it if we seek answers.
Parables cause us to dig deep into God’s word. There are times when the message can be taken at face value; He said what He meant, and He meant what He said. But at other times, we have to dig into the word, search out the truth of what He was speaking to His disciples so that we can understand what He is saying to us.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus was quoted as having said this:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.Matthew 13:44 NKJV
I was reading a Christian western novel not long ago. A man was riding his horse in the mountains when he stumbled on a trail in the story. As he followed the path through the mountain, he saw a lush valley with plenty of water and grazing land. When he returned to town, he purchased that mountain for pennies because it was considered invaluable. But he had found a treasure, land rich for raising cattle. This is the picture that Jesus is trying to help us to see. There are messages in His parables. When you hear or read the parables, you can have a shallow understanding of them, leaving you puzzled and therefore uninterested. But if you dig for the truths hidden within them, you will see how precious the word of God can become to you. Wonderful Jesus!