Praying Through Mark

March 26, 2014
Mark 4: 21-25

“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

These words come in the midst of a series of parables in Mark’s gospel. Parables are an interesting teaching tool. They are meant to illustrate (not explain) the kingdom of God by forming analogies. The kingdom of God is like this or that thing in the natural world, says Jesus. Something that is not obvious is laid down alongside something which is so that we can begin to see it more clearly. In this way the parables make the kingdom of God more visible, more accessible.

Yet at the same time parables have a certain concealing effect. They illustrate the kingdom, but they do it in a way that is not immediately understandable to everyone. The kingdom is like a mustard seed? A farmer who sowed seeds? A landowner who sends a servant to collect the harvest from the tenants? What exactly does this mean? The answer isn’t always clear.

That’s because the kingdom of God is not exactly like anything else. The kingdom is that realm where God reigns, where His perfect will is exercised, where everything is exactly like what God intends it to be. And nothing about our everyday world matches up with that – not completely. We can catch glimpses of the kingdom. We see little bits of evidence here and there that what God has promised is beginning to come to pass. But not fully. Not yet.

In the meantime Jesus gives us these parables to stoke our imaginations, to invite us to see the world in ways that transcend our immediate senses. Yes, this world is broken and fallen. There is bad stuff and evil happening all around us. And yet at the same time God is at work redeeming His creation. If look and listen closely enough, we can see it.

Let him who has hears to hear, hear.

Lord God, help me today to catch a glimpse of your goodness – in the beauty of the creation, in the kindness of others, in the stirrings of hope within me. Most of all, let me see the movement of your Holy Spirit in me, calling me out of my sin and into newness of life. Through Christ, Amen.

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