2 Timothy 1: 1-8
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,
To Timothy, my beloved child:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,
Psalm 96: 1-3, 7-8a, 10
O sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples.
Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
Say among the nations, “The Lord is king!
The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
He will judge the peoples with equity.”
Mark 4: 26-34
He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
Why did Jesus speak in parables? We might think that God would want us to plainly understand Him. But if we regard the workings of the seed, the parable itself operates like a seed.
A seed has three parts: the innermost embryo, the endosperm to provide nutrients, and the outermost seed coat to protect it. The seed coat needs to break down in a process called “scarification”, allowing water and nutrients to reach the embryo. We too need to receive the seed, and examine and wrestle with the truth we learn. Once we have accepted it, the natural process takes over. Faith will work in us and God changes us and makes us grow into a new creation in Him.
Without a strong seed coat, the endosperm would not serve its purpose, and the embryo would not grow. When God speaks in parables, He hides the message of life in a parable based seed coat protecting the truth so it can be received at the proper time.
When a seed is planted in the earth, it remains there until the soil has gone through a season’s change, and scarified the seed coat. God using metaphors provides a mercy to all who hear them, because the story is one that can easily be remembered and understood over time. Jesus gently gave the crowd an idea to think over, giving them the grace to contemplate Him and be converted both intellectually and spiritually. By speaking in parables, Jesus lays the groundwork for conversion and invests in the future redemption of his people.
Today, bring before the Lord the things that you do not quite understand. Maybe there is a trial in your life that is currently unresolved, or a truth about the character of God that you have never known how to accept. Ask Jesus to give you the grace to meditate and break open the seed of truth. The Lord longs for our understanding of His word and of His purposes, and desires to aid us in the process.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me Lord to understand your word. Please help me to move beyond the baseline understanding of who your are and what your purposes are for me, and allow me to receive life everlasting through your word. Amen.