The Secret of the Kingdom of God

Mark 4:21-34

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!’”

 

21 He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”

24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

The Parable of the Growing Seed

26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

We talked last week about the parable of the sower and soils and how it explained why people reject the good news about the kingdom of God.

In today’s passage, I want to pick up on a theme mentioned by Jesus in the middle of that parable and that theme relates to why Jesus spoke in parables to begin with. There are secrets associated with God’s working in history. There are secrets associated with the kingdom of God. Jesus uses the word secrets, but I think we could say that there are things that are not understood. I think it works the same way.

When I think about a secret, I think opportunity for understanding.

  1. Secret Implies Opportunity
  2. The appropriate response to knowledge is obedience

Verses 21-23 21 He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open23 If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”

There are things not understood that are being brought out into the open. The lamp has been lit and put on a stand. Jesus is saying this:

A lamp has a use. Use it. God’s kingdom is His rule in our lives. We may not see the impact right away. What do we do? We change our life to incorporate the message of the Kingdom. We endure hardship, we serve God and others. We give like God gives. We love God and love others. And God’s kingdom rules our lives.

What if God’s call to love, give and sacrifice for others is met by indifference or even ingratitude so that we might actually experience the pleasure and love of God as our reward? If the pleasure and love of God is our true reward, then will we not forever be motivated to love, serve and give? Mercy has to come first. Justice sends us all straight to judgement that we cannot endure.

  1. Ever seeing but not perceiving

        God is invisible. You can perceive God. So, you can be never seeing, and yet perceiving! O you can be just the opposite.

John 9: 35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”

41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

 

“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

  1. Kingdom response determines kingdom possession

There is a lamp. It has been set up. If you don’t see, then that is not a problem of a lack of light. It is a problem of a lack of the ability to see. So:

24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

Understanding begets more understanding.

Wisdom begets more wisdom.

This is how the Jewish leaders have come to reject Christ and oppose God. And to act as those who will have millstones tied around their necks and be thrown into the sea instead of hearing “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”

So, the word secret as it applies to the Kingdom of God implies opportunity to understand and follow Jesus as the King.

The parable of the seed, speaks to the secret power of the kingdom.

26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

  1. Secret Power

I love this parable because it is so simple. And yet it’s importance is profound. This parable has similarities to the parable of the sower, but speaks specifically to power.

People do not make the kingdom of God powerful. Period. And if change takes time and is a process, then this parable makes perfect sense. What should one do as they wait for the kingdom of God? One should be patient. Why? Because THAT SEED IS GOING TO GROW!!!

  1. Seeds grow apart from human effort

27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up,

If you can’t make it grow, you also can’t make it not grow!

  1. Seeds grow because that is their nature

Farmers plant seeds. Seeds do their work. The message of the Kingdom establishes the kingdom all by itself!

 

  1. Trust the power of the seed

In your own life. You will be changed.

Trust the power of the seed by turning it loose in your deeds and words.

So, there are secrets that surround the kingdom of God. Secret power is one, secret growth is the other one mentioned here!

III. Secret Growth

Parable of the mustard seed.

Sequoia seeds come from a cone the size of a large egg and the   seeds are the size of a flake of oatmeal.

  1. What is small grows to be large

        Something that starts so small will grow to be very large.

 

  1. Historically proven

        Jesus’ ministry is popular, but he runs a bunch of people off. And then the fact that He is despised and rejected by Jewish and Roman authorities and is crucified is not helpful in planting a large seed!

But, after the Resurrection and the Coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days later, we find the beginnings of real growth. In 350 years Christianity is the official religion of the Roman empire. And the Christian faith has grown throughout history as well.

The gospel of the kingdom will be preached to all peoples and then the end will come. That is just now being fulfilled in human history! In Asia, Latin America and Africa, the Christian faith is growing.

Mao kicked all Western missionaries out of China. It was estimated that there were around a million believers when he did this. Sixty years later the estimates are 70-100 million believers in China. Mustard seed growth!

 

  1. Trust the power of the kingdom

There are no small things to invest in.

No small people.

No small projects.

No small results when God is in it.

Grace Fellowship Church is a small church. But God’s kingdom is powerful and we have the opportunity to invest in the kingdom of      God in our own lives through faith and obedience. And we have the opportunity to invest in the kingdom in our community by    explaining Jesus to people and inviting them to follow Jesus and        invest in the kingdom of God in their own lives.

 

The fact that the kingdom of God operates in a secret way implies that we have the opportunity to discover what God is doing and give ourselves to that. And we know that God’s kingdom is powerful. It grows because that is what it does when combined with faith. And finally, it grows over time. There are no small investments.