September 23, 2015, Mark 3:16-4:20
Prayer for Illumination
Living God, open my heart, mind, and body to experience you in this reading of scripture, that in experiencing you I might grow into someone who brings you honor. Amen.
3:16 So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, 19and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Then he went home; 20and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’ 22And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.’ 23And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? 24If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
28 ‘Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’— 30for they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’
31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ 33And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’34And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! 35Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’
4:1 Again he began to teach beside the lake. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the lake and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the lake on the land. 2He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:3‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. 6And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. 7Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’ 9And he said, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’
10 When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11And he said to them, ‘To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; 12in order that
“they may indeed look, but not perceive,
and may indeed listen, but not understand;
so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.” ’
13 And he said to them, ‘Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? 14The sower sows the word. 15These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. 17But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, 19but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. 20And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’
Today and tomorrow’s readings both include a number of parables. Parables are narrative analogies—stories that make a point. Today and tomorrow include a large section of the teachings of Christ.
Today’s parables, when read together, show Christ’s awareness and warnings about threats to the kingdom and will of God. He points out how many things can distract, obscure, detract or hinder from what God is doing in the world. Included in his parables are the lure of wealth, the desire for things, rootlessness which leaves one vulnerable, persecution, temptation and accusation, the threat which Mark calls Satan—even Christ’s own family is questioned as friend or foe.
Reflect on how often you accuse others, judge others, or put down others. When do you prevent the kingdom from growing in good soil? When are you guilty of choking out the abundant life in others?
What are the hindrances or road blocks in your life resisting the Kingdom of God around you and your experience of abundant life?
If you’re participating in these daily readings through Facebook, comment to this post with your answer to this question:
Post a picture of something growing and describe the soil it is growing using the words in Christ’s parable.
Opportunity for Action
Make a confession of how you hinder God and your neighbor. If you confess to God, write your confession down. If you confess to a neighbor, do it in writing, over the phone, or in person. THen rest in the peace of knowing you are forgiven.
Offer your own prayer or simply close your time of reflection with the Lord’s Prayer spoken aloud.