Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lesson 19: Growing in Understanding

Brief 4-to-5 Minute Teaching Lesson

Why? and What is the Purpose? in My Life SERIES

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Lesson 19 of the Discipleship Making process.

I left you last time with this question, “How do sunlight and water affect growth?”

Read: Mark 4:21-29 & Luke 8:16-18

Upon finishing His explanation of the parable of the sower, Jesus adds two illustrations and two more commands. Both the illustrations and the commands are linked to the parable of the sower and its interpretation.

Jesus tells His disciples that the purpose of a lamp is to provide light. The disciples recognize that He is referencing the parable and in turn revealing the mysteries of the kingdom of God. They also remember that Jesus had recently used similar words during His Sermon on the Mount. At that time Jesus said, “They were the light of the world.” For the first time the disciples are beginning to catch the role to which they have been called. They are to be the light by revealing the “Word of God”, which is the kingdom of God. Jesus assures them of this when he states, "For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it should come to light.”

People hide valuable things and they keep them hidden until they deem that it is the appropriate time for their use. It is similar to a seed being hidden or planted in the ground and then coming forth in its season. The value of the seed and what it will produce is not known until the light of the sun reveals it. People also keep secrets until they find someone they can trust with their secrets. Jesus is simply telling the disciples that they are the trusted ones and that this is the time to reveal the “Word of God”. He concludes by issuing the instruction, “If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Based on the parable of the sower, which the disciples have just heard, this command takes on new force. The words they are hearing with their ears are to be planted and remain in the fertile soil of their hearts. Then the words will grow and produce more words for planting in other hearts.

Because the soil of a disciple’s heart is fertile, Jesus issues a caution. “Take care what you listen to.” In other words, be selective in the things you allow to be planted and remain in your heart. Why? Because whatever words are planted and remain in the heart whether good or evil will grow to produce the words that you will speak. And everything you allow to grow will be multiplied.

As Jesus tells His disciples the parable of the growing plant more truths become evident. The primary point of the parable is that the kingdom of God grows. According to the parable a word planted in the heart takes time to grow before it reaches maturity and it grows in three identifiable stages. The three stages of growth are referred to as the blade, the head, and the mature grain in the head. These growth stages correspond to those who have believed the word of salvation. It is at maturity that new seed is formed and reproduction occurs.

With that, allow me to leave you with this question to consider, along with a little homework assignment until my next posting:

What does wheat and tares, mustard seeds, and leaven all have in common?

. . . and the homework assignment . . .

Consider some other truths that can be ascertained from the two illustrations and parable of the growing plant?

How do sunlight and water affect growth?
Both are necessary for growth. Too little sunlight and the seed will not grow to maturity. However sunlight will cause a plant to wither and die if it doesn’t have an adequate water supply. Too much water kills the plant by drowning.

What evidence is there that a seed/word is going to grow?
Initially there is no evidence that a word is going grow so it takes faith and patience on the part of the sower to believe that it will.

Until next time . . . Godspeed!

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