3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:
In Mark 4, we have first the parable of the sower, emphasizing the three great dangers to faith. First, the fowls of the air, organized opposition, the specious falsehoods of men, the deceits of the adversary who snatch away the seed before it has time to take root.
Then the poor, thin, shallow ground-no depth, no real grip on the truth, no stability or constancy. And lastly, the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, the thousand and one little things that can, almost unnoticed, steal away, piece by piece and day by day, our precious time and opportunities, until at last we look up in dismay and find ourselves far from our goal and the day nearly spent.
Bro Growcott - BYT 4. 22
19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
This is a very pressing, urgent question for us all: Are we allowing the things of the present-the pressures of modern life-to choke the Word?-rob us of the crown of our life?- all unsuspectedly to rob us of eternity?
We live in a luxury unknown to all previous generations. To what extent are we justified in allowing ourselves to be swept up into this modern treadmill?
Let us pray for enlightenment and guidance in this matter, that we do not find to our sorrow that the cares of this life have won their bitter victory in the end.
Bro Growcott - To be fleshly minded is death
27 And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.
God is a Loving Father teaching us to walk. We are infants in His hand. He does not condemn us for our constant stumblings, for the weakness and unsteadiness of our legs, for our clumsiness and lack of balance. He knows that all that is inevitably part of the learning process.
He does not demand instant perfection or ability or dexterity. But He DOES demand desire, and effort, and perseverance, and dedication. He DOES condemn us for failure to try, for wandering interest, for indolent contentment to remain spoon-fed, spiritual infants.
He does not condemn us for difficulties and setbacks in the process of growing up to Him. But He does condemn us -- and will ultimately REJECT us -- for not giving total effort and zeal.
29 But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.
When we realise that the Kingdom of God is the result of a work of long preparation, involving all that God has done in past times, we can see how it is like seed cast into the ground, which, though invisible to the passer by, is slowly advancing by a process of germination, and a result of harvest that are alike independent of man. The ripening of natural grain comes at a fixed time; and the reapers come at the ripeness. So with the Kingdom of God: the maturity of God's plan will be reached, and the harvesting will come off at a time that is fixed in the nature of things, independent of the knowledge or care or will of man.
In this there is great ground of patience and peace for those who are instructed in the testimony. Their motto is, "Patient waiting, through all apparent delays, and in the face of the most adverse occurrences." It is a waiting for God who has given His word: and He has said "They shall not be ashamed that wait for me." Our life is "but for a moment." There is no waiting after our threescore years and ten: and the waiting may stop long before that, "Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind: watch and be sober." Walk worthy of the calling to which ye have been called, "Be holy in all manner of conversation." The hope of the righteous shall not always be deferred. The grain is ripening: the harvest is coming.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 28.
The harvest is come.
'And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God'. (Luke 13:29).
32 But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.
This is a parable which carries its meaning on its face. Least of all things among men at the beginning: greatest of all things at the end: such is the kingdom of God in every aspect in which it can be viewed, -- whether as first planted in the earth in the promises; or as first introduced to any man called to be an heir thereof; or as first manifested in the earth at Christ's return.
When first planted in the promises, it was confined to one old man who must have seemed demented as he sallied forth from the midst of his friends to an unknown land, or as he afterwards sojourned among the inhabitants of Canaan with the quiet confidence that he would one day be the possessor of "all these countries." What an indescribable contrast to this will be the occupancy of Palestine by Abraham and his multitudinous seed with Christ at their head, not only as the joyful inheritors of the most glorious of lands, reinstated in more than its original glory, but as the rulers of the entire habitable globe, whose enlightened inhabitants will joyfully repair to worship God and make obeisance at Jerusalem.
When first introduced to a man's notice, in the testimony of the gospel, the kingdom seems to him the most insignificant of his personal affairs. Slowly his view enlarges until he begins to discern its importance, and submits to the requirements associated with it. At last he dies in the confidence of the hope thereof; and at the resurrection, he awakes to find all his personal affairs perished and gone, except this one momentous element of them -- that he is an heir of the Kingdom of God which he enters in the unspeakable joy of a glorified nature and a position of everlasting power and honour, friendship and joy.
Finally, when Christ steals into the world as a thief, the Kingdom of God arrived in his person is the smallest political fact on earth for the time being; but soon, the mustard seed sprouts. He awakes the dead; he gathers them to judgment with the few living who stand related to his tribunal; he separates the unworthy element from among them; with the accepted and glorified remnant he commences belligerent operations against "the kings of the earth and their armies" -- first shattering the Gogian hosts encamped against Jerusalem; then proceeding in detail against all countries and all governments, till the whole fabric of human power is prostrated in the dust, and the Kingdom of God the only ruling authority on the earth. A knowledge of the Kingdom of God is the easy key to the parable of the mustard seed.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 27
38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
"He was asleep, in the hinder part of the ship"
This tells us many things. It speaks first of his perfect peace of mind. He had many troubles, but no worries; countless sorrows, but no anxiety.
Then it speaks of the fatigue that would make sleep possible upon such an occasion, tossed about in a small boat on a rough sea. And it gives us a glimpse of the life he led-unsettled and wandering-no fixed dwellingplace, or mode of existence-spending long nights in prayer-sleeping when the opportunity afforded. He enjoyed none of the external elements of rest and peace, but was the greatest example of them inwardly.
"My peace I give unto you" (John 14:27).
"Come unto me and I will give you rest" (Matt 11:28).
Then he adds, lest we should harbor an illusion,
"Not as the world giveth, give I unto you" (John 14:27).
The world would not call it rest, nor would they recognize his peace. He, even more truly and deeply than Paul, could say,
"I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content."
A perfect mastery of the mind over external circumstances. His peace did not consist in ignoring the circumstances, or excluding the facts from his consciousness, or not caring about them. It consisted in the confidence that whatever came, he was ready, with God's help, to face it, and make the best of it; and in knowing that in all things he conducted himself in perfect harmony with the will of God. He said (John 8:29)-
"I do always those things that please the Father."
That was his peace. Consider the whole statement-
"He that sent me is with me; the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him."
Many times he said that: "I am not alone." That was his anchor and confidence through every storm. "I am not alone." God said in the beginning, "It is not good for man to be alone." For the first Adam, the natural man, He made one provision, but it remained for the Second Adam to demonstrate the full truth and depth of the statement. "I am not alone." Though all the world was against him, he was still in the majority: though all his companions forsook him, he was not alone. As the last hour approached, he said (John 16:32),
"Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things have I spoken to you that in me ye might have peace."
"Master, carest thou not that we perish?"
They had many lessons to learn by experience, and experience is usually hard. Yet each experience, whether we fail or succeed, can be a stepping stone forward, if we are rightly exercised by it. Even if we fail still our failure can be profitable and useful: subsequent reflection can tell us why, and can also impress us with the unsatisfactory and depressing character of a past whose milestones are instances of weakness-thus giving added incentive to overcome. So even here-
"All things work together for good to them that love God."
Bro Growcott - BYT 4. 22
41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
"Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father"
"Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."
He was the word made flesh - God manifest in the flesh - the character of God exhibited in a Son begotten of God by the Spirit, of the seed of David according to the flesh; and the power and presence of God manifested to Israel, after the anointing of this Son begotten with the Holy Spirit without measure on his attaining maturity.
Those looking discerningly on Jesus, looked on the Father in human manifestation. But did Jesus mean he was the father in the primary sense? His own words preclude such a meaning. Having saddened his disciples by the intimation that he was about to leave them for the presence of the Father, he said,
"If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I" (14:28).
Although, therefore, he said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father," he did not mean there was no Father separate from him dwelling in unapproachable light. He explained himself in the words immediately following those we are considering:
"Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works."
The scriptural teaching concerning God enables us to understand this. When we realise that Yahweh dwells in the heavens (Psa. 123:1) yet fills the universe (Jer. 23:23-24) by the invincible energy of His Spirit (Psa. 139:7-12), and that thus, though in far distant heaven (Eccl. 5:2), He is not far from every one of us, for in Him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:27-8), we are enabled in a small measure to understand how the special manifestation of His wisdom, character and power in "the man Christ Jesus," constituted that man Christ Jesus an exhibition of the Father to all who intelligently discern him, without, at the same time, interfering with that subordinate aspect in which the Lord presented himself as the Son who did nothing of himself.
...Greater indeed will be our privilege than that of the disciples in the days that are past; for if the Lord do us the unspeakable honour of counting us among his friends in that day, we shall see him in his beauty instead of in his weakness, and we shall share in his joy instead of his suffering, and rejoice in the promised change from this corruptible instead of toiling in a service in which we groan being burdened.
And every joy of salvation will be intensified by the immensity and completeness of the multitude of the saints of every age who will sit down to that feast of glory together, ascribing all thanksgiving and praise to him that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever.