Mark's Turn

Of all the genres in the Bible, I enjoy reading Jesus' parables. The secret, like what I told my Bible Study Group, is to start with the events immediately preceding the parable as well as the events following it.

Usually, people begin with the parable itself without understanding why Jesus told the story in the first place. They miss the point that the parable is an answer to a question or an attitude of the people interacting with Christ.

A parable is an extended metaphor, but it contains only one spiritual truth. The beauty of parables also lie in their simplicity. Jesus uses everyday events and daily experiences in putting forward a spiritual truth. But because of their ordinariness, people miss the grand point and the message altogether.

Here we witness how people become blinded. They fail to grasp Christ's message because they cannot understand the Savior's chosen medium-- the parable. In their minds they are thinking, "What is the connection of the story to what we're talking about?" The answer? Everything. It is the answer to the question. It deals with the wrong attitude or the problem at hand.

Why did Jesus chose parables? We find the answer in Mark 4:11-12

"...But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that,

'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’"
Only those whose eyes and ears are opened by the Spirit can understand the message. We must praise God because we are among them. I may be able to give techniques and guidelines to my Bible Study group but it is ultimately God who opens the mind to understand His message.

Last Monday, it was Mark's turn to lead our Bible Study's devotion. He spoke on the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30 and Luke 19:12-28). From his discussion, we were able to understand that Jesus was teaching about the day of accounting. There will come a time when God will ask us to give a report on how we have used the abilities He has given us.

This is actually a controversial passage because if misread, it can be used to argue that good works are God's basis in allowing people into His Kingdom. But Mark is keen in pointing out that the reward for the servants' faithfulness is increased responsibility from the Master.

Listening to this, I remembered Matthew 13:12 that says-

"Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."

It is clear that at the moment of judgment, Christians together with non-Christians are to give an account to God on how they've used the blessings He has given them. But this is not the ticket to salvation. The unfaithful servant, by virtue of the missing relationship with God is already condemned to eternal separation. In fact, it is because of the absence of such relationship that he failed to understand why he had to cultivate the talents given by the Master. He did not know the Master and so he did not place value on the way he used the talent or minas.

It was actually a fairly difficult passage to handle. There were questions raised by Bencio and Marko and even me but were not answered that night. That's okay because our goal was not to exhaust all the theological debate surrounding the parable. We were more concerned with the practice and the opportunity of leading the small group.

I am still at awe for God is growing Mark and my other disciples. Given more time, I know that God can use them for His mighty works. My heart's prayer is for them to really get to know God more and, thus, draw strength and motivation from Him. I pray that God will meet them in their individual quiet times so that He may show Himself and change them forever.

Thank you still Lord for the opportunity of ministering to these young men. Continue to teach me also that I may be able to teach others Your ways and your Word. Amen.

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