Pastor’s Ponderings: Meandering through Mark 4:10-12 Bible study (October 31, 2023)
"Faith, Hope, and Love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is Love". I hope that on this day the Love of Jesus Christ for you will move you to greater grace in your life.
Just a reminder for every one. Sunday is All Saints Sunday / Day of the dead. At church we will offer the opportunity for worshipers to bring a photo or name card to worship to place it on a special remembrance altar called an ofrenda. There will also be flowers available for you to place in the vase on the special altar. Though we will not place food on this altar which is the practice of our central American and South American brothers and sisters, we will instead share a carry-in meal in the parish hall after worship. If you were unable to sign up in advance, please plan of bringing something to share (if you are able just come and join in this fellowship in Christ's name.) Since All Saints is the first Sunday of November we will also be led in worship by our Gospel Music Group. Worship is at 10AM on Sundays. We will also share a Pumpkin Pie dessert time after worship on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, November 19th. The last Sunday of November is Christ the King, and Advent One will be the first Sunday in December which will be followed by a chili luncheon.
Today we are going to consider a short, but troubling passage from the Gospel of Mark 4:10-12 Bible study. Let's begin by saying that this quote from Christ would seem to be directly opposed to Christ's normal approach and expectations for people who would hear Him preach and teach. Normally we would say that Jesus would be most hopeful that the use of parables would make understanding the complexities of God's Truth and His Kingdom grow as they heard Jesus preach. But here it seems to be something different, and, on the surface at least, it seems to reveal to us an angry and vengeful Jesus. The Authorized Version of the Bible uses a different word for knowledge. It interprets the early Greek in his passage with the word mystery. However, it is not the kind of mystery that we most commonly think of. It is not the solving of some number of clues to arrive at a revealing conclusion. In this interpretation mystery simply means incomprehensible. So Jesus says that the disciples will understand all of this mystery because He is with them to explain, (because they are the initiated) but the others (and our temptation here is to think that Jesus is talking about everyone who seeks Him out) have closed minds and hearts, and therefore the purpose of the parables is to confuse and cloud any chance that these people might have of Knowing God's heart of compassion for His children. But that is not correct. What Christ is saying is that there are those people who are so closed to God's Love , their hearts are hard, and their minds are dull, to the point that they will never be able to understand the Truths that Christ offers about the Kingdom of God.
This passage has its origin in the prophet Isaiah 6:9 & 10. "And He said, Go, and say to this people, "Go on hearkening, but understand not; go on looking, but perceive not." Make fat the heart of this people, and its ears make heavy, and its eyes besmear; lest it see with its eyes, and with it ears hear, and its heart understand, so that it should be healed.", but when the Greek Version was translated in about 300 in the Common Era, it read instead, "And He said, Go and say to this people, "Ye shall hear indeed, but ye shall not understand; and seeing, you shall see and not perceive, "for the heart of this people has become gross, and with their ears they hear heavily, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
This second version out of the Greek does not say that God is preventing them from knowing the truth. Instead is says that they are already in such a state of mind and heart that they will be unable to understand. Regrettably, we seem to be in a similar situation today with younger generations thinking that all they need is a video game and social media, life's pleasures, and the comfort of plenty of money, and like the Jews of Isaiah's time, many are unable to hear the Truth of Jesus Christ for their lives. They too are caught in the trap of thinking that their own way is good enough, even when God's Spirit attempts to intervene to warm their hearts to the compassionate love of God.
I hope that all of this really helps you to understand how on the surface this passage seems too difficult and so unlike Christ, when , in fact, it really reveals the fullness of Christ, some of his disappointment that some will inevitably be lost to Him, and the best way that He has available to teach and change the hearts which are already hardened to Him, is to reveal the ultimate Truths of the Kingdom using the form of parabolic teaching and preaching.
God Bless you always,
In Christ, Pastor Kim.