Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, I remember hearing a lot about “meditation.” Many in America involved with the counter cultural movement were “into” all sorts of eastern religions and spiritual practices. Mediation was one of those practices, even “elevated” by the Beatles and other celebrities. For me, after hearing about the “mysticism of meditation,” it just seemed weird!
However, after I became a Christian a few years later, I began to learn about biblical meditation. I discovered, that it was a common and accepted practice in ancient Judaism and Christianity. One of my favorite verses on meditation comes from King David, in fact, I pray this verse daily.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NKJV
In this week’s blog, we will examine the “power of the seed,” or the power of God’s Word. Godly meditation on God’s Word has a vital role in helping us “hear” what God is revealing and it positions us for greater success in life. More in a moment on meditation.
Today, we continue in Mark 4, looking at four aphorisms that follow the parable of the sower, that are followed by two additional “seed parables.”
Let’s Look at the Aphorisms First—Mark 4:21-25
Matthew and Luke also record these four aphorisms or sayings, but in a different context. It is most likely that Jesus spoke these sayings many times in different settings over the course of His ministry. Mark combines them in two pairs, verses 21-22 and 24-25. He repeats the admonition of Mark 4:9 between them, “Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.”
All three of the parables about seeds and the aphorism are intended to get the reader to “listen!”
Jesus asks a rhetorical question: “Is a lamp brought to be …” (literally, does the lamp come?) only to be hidden under a basket or under a bed? Answer: Of course not!
Jesus is the lamp, the light of the world, that simply cannot be hidden. Despite the obscurity of the parables, Jesus desires to make the kingdom known to the people. Verse 22 clarifies this point, what is “hidden” and “secret” is the mystery of the kingdom that is concealed in Jesus. However, God wants this “light,” to be plainly seen by all!
The mystery is hidden in His ordinary life and family (Mark 6:3) and the simplicity of the parables (Mark 4:11), and setbacks He has encountered (Mark 2:7; 3:6, 21-22). But, it is hidden for only a time! Just as the identity of Jesus as Messiah must be hidden for a time, the mystery of the kingdom is like a seed hidden in the ground to eventually break forth. The fullness of His identity is revealed at His resurrection.
In Mark 4:23-25, Jesus admonishes the reader once again to “take heed what you hear.” This literally reads, “see what you hear.” He speaks of “measuring” what we hear. Remember in Mark 4:3, 9 the reader is cautioned to listen, “He who has ears to hear let him hear.” Vs. 3 literally means “Listen, look!” Listen and use your imagination.
In the Old Testament, the Shema, Deut. 6:4 instructs, “Hear, Oh Israel!” To hear means to absorb, to appropriate deeply, and to allow the message to sink in and change one’s whole life. Jesus is doing this—he is teaching them about the Kingdom of God, but not all are hearing then and sadly today.
Use Your Measure!
…With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you…” Mark 4:24-25
In the ancient world, one would bring to the marketplace containers to purchase measured amounts of food. Bring a pint, get a pint; bring a quart, get a quart. Forget your pint one day at the market and you don’t receive your measure! One’s capacity to receive positions them for more!
Jesus is telling them, “You will profit from My teachings if you actively listen. To the measure you pay attention to them.” And, “as you do, more understanding will be given to you than you could obtain on your own.” Prov 25:2 encourages you and me to seek out that which is hidden, God promises to make certain truths known to us (Deut. 29:29).
Last week, when discussing the Parable of the Sower, we read in Mark 4:20 how some seed fell on good ground to produce a harvest that was 30, 60, and 100-times what was planted. “And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” (Mark 4:20 NLT)
The parable of the sower demonstrates the law of increase, related to how we measure (hear), here’s how:
We measure everything we hear. When I hear the Word regarding my situation, I determine whether it is received or not, and to what level it is received. I measure everything I hear. The Word of God responds to how I hear and “measure.”
For example, the truth of the goodness of God. When someone declares, “God is good,” the very statement may cause some to resound with “Yes, God is good!” But for others, the truth of the goodness of God may be veiled through disappointments and suffering. For this person, they may not be able to “hear” the truth that God is good, as their experience clouds this important biblical truth.
By the way, Nahum 1:7 underscores this important truth of the goodness of God, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.” (NKJV)
Mark 4:24 says, “The way “you” hear it, the way “you” measure and respond to it is the measure that it works in your life. You cooperate with God and His Word for increase. Ongoing revelation comes to those with listening ears, to them, more understanding is given!”
Doesn’t seem fair? Consider the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:29; Luke 19:26), contradicts our understanding of fairness—right? In Mark’s context, the implication is that revelation is a gift, more is given to those who hear, those who bring their “measure” with an expectation to receive!
I shared last week how the soil of our hearts affects how we hear. Life’s setbacks, circumstances, etc. can cause hurt, bitterness, and offense in the heart. We need to protect our hearts from the “darts” of bitterness, offense, and hurt (Prov. 4:23 NLT). When these wounds are lodged in the heart, we create filters of negativity that restrict our ability to “hear” clearly.
Jesus stated plainly to us, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, so you will be my disciples.” (John 15:8 NKJV)
God wants the promises He has spoken over your life to come to pass and bear fruit. It’s not enough to listen to God’s word and promises, you must hear and believe them, and take them into your heart and allow them to transform your life.
The Parable of the Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29)
Mark records another seed parable from Jesus, one that is only found in his gospel. Notice that the emphasis in this parable is on the intrinsic power of the seed.
Seeds are full of life. Despite our scientific understanding, seeds are a mystery to us. Seeds have the power to grow on their own accord. The seed has power embedded in it!
Jesus illustrates how the sower scatters his seed and then goes about his daily business. Slowly, imperceptibly, the seed begins to sprout. The farmer doesn’t know how this happens nor can he control the process.
Jesus is explaining to them that the kingdom of God is a divine work, not a human achievement. This is reinforced in the next parable about the mustard seed. God brings about the growth of His kingdom, and at times it is imperceptible. We can cooperate, by spreading the “seeds” of the gospel of the Kingdom, but God brings the growth and He will eventually harvest at the end of the age.
I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” 1 Cor. 3:6-7 NLT
We learn from the Parable of the Sower that the Good soil of your heart (Mark 4:20), hears the word, accepts it, and bears fruit. Although it’s the seed (word) itself which is actively at work. The seed, God’s Word, has power—life in it. For example, 1 Peter 1:23 “having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever…”
Same Word for all, yet how one hears the Word and the condition of the soil of their heart determines how fruitful the Word will be in their life. As we discussed last week, the Word is stolen or has little root in many, thus no harvest of that truth. Remember, the condition of the heart (soil) affects whether the seed will take root, mature, and produce a harvest.
“The way “you” hear it, the way “you” measure and respond to the Word is the measure that will work in your life. You cooperate with God and His Word for increase. Your goal should be to progress toward 100-times increase of truth!
You have the responsibility to move from a 30-fold realm into a 100-fold realm. “He that has, more will be given!” Hunger and pursuit are required! Godly disciplines of prayer, worship, meditation, bible study, scripture memorization, obedience, and service to others help position you to realize a greater harvest of the truths and promises God has revealed to you.
Principles for Godly Success in Life
Ok, let’s continue our discussion on biblical meditation. If you can learn the principles in these verses, you position yourself for blessing and success in life. Notice the role of mediation spoken of here:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Jos. 1:8
“Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law, he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.” Psalm 1:1-3
See how meditating on God’s Word helps bring about prosperity and success in life? Meditation, as understood from Judaism, involved reciting the scriptures, almost like muttering, over and over until it became a form of prayer. Prayer and reciting the scriptures became one flow, thus meditation. In fact, if you go to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, you will observe devout Jews praying, or meditating, with God. They are rocking back and forth, reciting God’s Word and praying—a form of biblical meditation.
Remember, the Apostle Paul said to, “Pray without ceasing.” What if our reciting of God’s Word and our prayer life became one continuous breath or prayer to God?
What if you began to operate from your union with Jesus and His ascension realm?!
Your born-again experience unites you to his divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4) and you have been elevated in His victory (Eph. 2:6). He is the living Word, full of grace and truth (John 1:14), learn how to live from your divine life with Him and the truth of His Living Word. That’s living faith, not just intellectual understanding of bible verses.
Often, we give mental assent to the word or to a truth, but it’s not living faith in the truth. Truth in the mind is good, but it’s in the heart that truth becomes empowered reality. Holy Spirit must unveil truth to us. The Spirit’s unveiling of truth turns intellectual understanding into living faith. Prosperity, success, victory—all built upon the Word and learning how to agree with and participate in it!
The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mark 4:30-32)
Jesus, in searching for ways to communicate the nature of God’s Kingdom, now uses the illustration of a tiny mustard seed.
God’s Kingdom, starting like a small seed, will one-day spring up and be the largest of plants. The parable of the mustard seed thus points to the future worldwide reach of the Kingdom of God.
From its humble beginnings, God’s Kingdom will mature into an immense tree where all the nations (peoples) of the world can find a home. The growth of God’s Kingdom will not be due to human effort but by God’s hidden power, for its, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord!” (Zech. 4:6 NKJV)
How is the soil of your heart? How can you remove hindrances that may affect how you are “hearing” God and His Word? How can you meditate more effectively on God’s Word that greater fruitfulness can occur in your life? Remember, as you meditate upon and obey God’s Word, you will prosper and succeed in life—you owe it to yourself to learn this practice!
For a more in-depth look at this subject, watch the Passion Church video, The Book of Mark – The Power of the Seed: