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Steve Mickel: The Secret of Jesus, Mark 4:1-25

March 21, 2022

Audio Recording

Mark records many parables. The first parable he records is the key to all the other parables. It is the key to understanding the secret regarding the kingdom of God (vs. 11-13). Yet very few people will truly listen and lean in to understand Jesus’ secret, the mystery of Christ. Jesus desires that people would not just acknowledge who he is from a distance, but would be curious enough to lean in and try to understand the mysteries of the kingdom. To fully experience the hope of the gospel requires a level of curiosity that keeps us coming back to Jesus for truth and clarity.

Mark: The Gospel of Curiosity
Mark: The Gospel of Curiosity
Steve Mickel: The Secret of Jesus, Mark 4:1-25

Sermon Transcript:

:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside church in bend Oregon. Thanks for joining us.

00:06 It's good to see you this morning and a welcome those that are watching online and let's give it up for Blake. One more time. You guys, that was so awesome. Just the Mohawk alone deserves another applies. You know what I'm saying? That was so great. Before we dive into our series that we're continuing in the book of mark. I want to give you a little update on what our church is participating in in terms of the support of the conflict in Ukraine. Many of you may not know that we're part of a Foursquare denomination here in the United States, as well as globally. We're I think we're 65,000 churches and over 150 nations, and we have 32 Foursquare churches in Ukraine and also several in Russia. And, the pastors in Ukraine decided to stay in Ukraine. Their families were able to evacuate, but they decided to stay and care for the many needs that obviously they have in their churches.

00:59 And so we, we are partnering with Foursquare disaster relief, which is a kind of a disaster relief arm of our denomination in providing resource and food and water and trying to get everything we possibly can into Ukraine. And so as a church, we donated $10,000 out of our general fund this past week. And there's also opportunity for you. If you'd like to partner more in prayer and giving and finding out more about what's going on in Ukraine with four square, you could go to our website, Westside And we have several links there that you're able to kind of find out more. Also, let's be in prayer for Russia as well. Our missionary in Russia had to flee to Bulgaria. The Russian national leader for four square in Russia was outspoken against the war. And so he had to flee. And so there's just a lot that we can, we need to be praying over, obviously, as we partner together with the church in Ukraine.

01:59 So Jesus, would you continue to surround these pastors who chosen to stay? Would you give them strength and wisdom protection? Would you help your life and your lights somehow shine in the midst of the darkness that they're experiencing, that they would know that you're with them walking with them and that Jesus, you would somehow encourage them. And Lord, we do pray that you would bring it into this conflict in Jesus name. Amen. Well, let's turn to mark chapter four. If you have your Bible, if you don't have a Bible and you have a cell phone, that's all of you. Go ahead and turn to mark four, follow along with me. If you would, the gospel of mark, it reveals a lot about who Jesus is. If you've never read the gospel of mark, what you're going to find is that it moves quick. It goes from one story to the next one, healing to the next one, teaching of Jesus to the next.

02:56 And it moves fast. And what trying to do is he's trying to give a very holistic picture and in the short amount of time possible about who Jesus is and what he came to do. And so it's an easy read it's if you like, if you like superhero movies, this is that's what mark feels like. It feels like bam, bam, bam, bam. Just action. It's action packed. It goes from one event to the next. And so I want to encourage you through this series. We have five more weeks. Would you read through the entire gospel of mark at least one time during this series and just sit down and take some time every week and read through this gospel, it will encourage you. What will it will do is it will remind you, it will give you a refresher about who Jesus is and why he came for those of you that maybe are a little cynical about this whole God thing.

03:44 It will also help you to see in a really encapsulated way why Jesus came and what he was all about. And what mark does is he challenges us to be curious enough to find out why Jesus did what he did, why he said what he said, you'll see throughout this gospel, that mark wants people. He's he's he, he notes people that lean in that asks follow up questions that follow Jesus and why they follow Jesus and he any, and he tries to expand our thinking around the kingdom of God and what is possible with Jesus. Now, let me ask you how many of you like keeping secrets, anybody willing to raise your hand? You love, you just love it. When someone tells you a secret. No, nobody's raising their hand and neither service. It's interesting, but I know there's people out there that like keeping secrets.

04:35 I don't really like keeping secrets. The reason I'm okay, by the way, I'm good at keeping secrets. It's not like I'm bad at keeping secrets, but I don't like keeping secrets past, especially good secrets. You know what I'm saying? Pastor Gonzalo and Ashlynn recently had a baby boy and months before, obviously months before, because when they became pregnant, my wife and I were one of the first people they told before they went public, you know? And it was a secret. They said, you can't tell anybody. I'm like, it's like the best news ever. And you're making me not tell someone. I mean, that's impossible. I kept a secret. I kept the secret. But what's the purpose of knowing the secret. If you can't tell anyone, it doesn't make any sense to me. Like, don't tell me until you want to tell everybody else, you know, but then, but then they went public, right?

05:20 And then someone asked me, Hey, did you hear Gonzalo national having a baby? And I'm like, yeah, I've known, I've known for I'm part of that group that knew, you know, really proud about it. Jesus talked about secrets. He talked about particularly a secret regarding the kingdom of heaven and he, and he would sit and he would actually, and he would actually like say, this is a secret. And only some people will get it and others won't get it. And it's like, Jesus is onto something that the rest of humanity knows nothing about yet. He's constantly talking about it is not, it's not secret. Like it's hidden. It's just a secret because not everybody gets it. And he uses this phrase to describe this. The people that want to know his secrets, he uses this phrase and you see it throughout the gospel of mark.

06:15 If you have ears to hear, if you have, of course we have ears and we hear, that's not what he's talking about. He's saying if you actually are really listening and leaning in, you'll get it. You'll discover it. But if you're just one of the crowd kind of hanging out in the background and you're listening to his teachings and his storytelling, you're not going to get it. You're not going to only those who have ears. The only those who lean in to hear will get it. And it's a secret. Unlike any other secret, mark chapter four, verse one, again, Jesus began to teach beside the sea and a very large crowd gathered about him so that he got into a boat and set in it on the sea. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables.

07:11 And parable is a story. So Jesus, when he talked to the crowds, he would tell story after story, after story, and they didn't make a whole lot of sense. Let's keep going. Listen. Here's the story. Behold, a sower went out to sow and as he sowed, some seed fell along the path and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on Rocky ground where it did not have much soil. And immediately as spring up, since it had no depth of soil and when the sun rose it was scorched. And since it had no root it withered away, other seed fell among thorns in the thorns, grew up and choked it and yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain growing up and increasing in the holding 30 fold and 60 fold and a hundred fold. And then he said, that's the end of the story, by the way, that's all he gave us.

07:58 He said he has ears to hear, let him hear let's pray. I mean, that was his sermon. That was his message to the crowds. Imagine you're on your way. Home from the market, you got a couple bags of groceries and you're walking. You see this big crowd gathered on the seashore and there's, there's this man on a boat teaching. That's interesting. So you stop and you listen. He tells this story about some seed that falls on different types of soil. And you're like, oh, that's interesting. And then, and then he ends it by saying, if you have ears to hear, let him hear. And you're like, okay, is that all right? You take your groceries and you keep going home. You don't think you don't even think of another. You don't give another second to it. You just keep on walking.

08:43 I remember we used to go to San Francisco quite a bit as a family. We liked the city and the kids. We enjoyed the, it was a lot different than bend. And I remember watching the breakdancers in San Francisco, the street performers, the statues and all the different street performers. And we would just sit there and watch them with all the other crowd. Right. And then as they started to get finished up, we were like, we gotta, we gotta go. Cause we didn't want to what interact with them. We wouldn't want to be that guy in the crowd that they pull into this circle and do stuff with. We're like, that's not us. We're not going to. And we certainly don't want to be pressured to give money. So we would sneak out early. And I think, I wonder how many of us treat the teachings of Jesus in a similar fashion where we hear from a distance?

09:32 It sounds interesting. It looks compelling, but we don't actually stick around and lean in and have ears to hear because having ears to hear doesn't mean that you listen in on Jesus's teaching and conversation from a distance, just hearing his words doesn't mean you're listening to his words. Those who have ears, they lean in, they ask questions. They want to know more. And here's what a few people did in verse 10. And when he was alone, those around him with the 12, asked him about the parables, what did you mean? What is the seed? What is it? The, all the different soils? What is it? What do they represent? And Jesus said to them, to you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God. But for those outside, everything is in parables so that they may indeed see, but not perceive. And may indeed hear, but not understand less.

10:33 They should turn and be forgiven. When I first read this as a young child, I was, it always sounded exclusive to me. Does it sound that way to anybody else? Like there's a few people who get it and then everybody else, doesn't sorry. But then I started looking at all the times that Jesus invited people in and how he never turn someone away that if anyone was curious enough, if anyone wanted to know more about what he said, if anybody was standing on the, on the, on the shore that day and wanted to know more, and they came up to Jesus and said, Jesus, what did you mean? He would invite them to come and follow him and learn from him. And that's what, that's the heart of Jesus. He was the secret is in a secret because he told this other story right after he got done.

11:32 And I'm not going to read the parable of the sower. You can read that. But after he got done with that story, he goes, he launches into another story in verse 21. And he said to them is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket or under a bed and not on a stand. Of course not. You put yourself through this, this narrative, right? This, this, this metaphor lamp, you bring in a lamp so that it can, so it's not hidden for nothing is hidden except to be made manifest, nor is anything secret, except to come into the light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. And he said to them, pay attention to what you hear. Because with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. And still more will be added to you for the, to the one who has more will be given.

12:23 And from the one who has not even what he has, will be taken away. I used to growing up in the church, I heard a lot of prosperity preachers that would use that. Like you give money, they're all about money. Give money, got to give him more money to you that this has nothing to do with money. This has to do with secrets that as you lean in and are curious and ask questions and you get, God will give you knowledge about who he is. You keep leaning in. He'll give you more knowledge about who he is. And it continues to grow like this. And he invites us in. He invites us in every single one of us. He doesn't, it's not a secret to be kept hidden. He wants to reveal who he is to this world. He wants to reveal who he is through us to this world.

13:15 And there's a few principles that we see that we can apply in our own lives. Through these stories. The first is that sometimes you have to get away with Jesus in order to learn from Jesus. Sometimes you have to get away with Jesus alone with him in order to learn from him. I'm not always great at this, but I try to make a rhythm out of getting away with Jesus. I try, even if it's just a minute here and there throughout my day, some people will set an alarm on their watch every hour and they take a minute to breathe. Focus in on Christ, invite the work of the holy spirit. I know some people do kind of a regular devotional time in the mornings, 15, 30 minutes, 60 minutes that they spend time just reflecting on Jesus, listening to him, reading his word. They make a rhythm out of this.

14:09 I try not only to do daily, but I try every quarter to get away for about three days. And when I, whenever I tell people this, they always look at me like, oh, know lucky, you know? Cause like, how do you do that? You know, how do you get away? I just have found that I have to take time and space in my life margin in my life. If I actually want to hear Jesus, whether it's a minute, every hour or half hour, every day or a couple of days, every quarter, whatever it might be to have margin in your life to hear from Jesus. One of the things that our council does, our church council does is give our pastors a sabbatical every seven years. And so this summer I'm taking a few weeks away and it's not, and I'm not desperate for it.

14:56 You know, like I'm going to, I'm not going to make it if I don't get away, but there's this deep sense in me that, and you've probably experienced this too, that over these past two years, it's taken a toll on us and most everyone. And especially pastors that I talk with are weary and tired because of the season that we've come through. But I also sent something really significant that as I ponder getting away for an extended amount of time, as I feel Jesus inviting me into a conversation with him, a deeper conversation, deeper intimacy with him. And I think if you quiet your heart, you might sense the same Jesus inviting you to get away with him. Maybe not for a sabbatical, but maybe for those of you business owners or people that have more margin in your life, maybe it is for a sabbatical, maybe for others.

16:01 It's just during nap time, you know, like put the kids, put the kids to sleep and then, and then spend some time to speak with Jesus soaking in his presence, train on some worship music being filled with the holy spirit. Maybe it's maybe it's just finding those little being creative about that. My wife and I used to when our kids were young, we used to do day exchanges with other Christians where we would take their kids for a full day and then they would be able to get away. And then the next week they would take our kids and we would be able to get away. And yes, I was tempted not to come back, but I always did. And, but it was just, we just, we had to be creative when our kids were younger, you know, to find time. But it's so important because I believe that sometimes you have to get away with Jesus alone with him in order to learn from him.

16:54 I love what mark writes in verse 34. He did not speak, Jesus did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples. He explained everything. I need Jesus to explain everything to me sometimes. And I only time. And the only way that's going to happen is if I get away with him. So what could that look like for you? Second thing I think we see in this passage is that curiosity opens the door to deeper conversation and deeper conversation opens the door to a deeper relationship. Curiosity. I, you know, growing up in the church, like I did, I follow up questions, weren't really encouraged. You know, it says, it just believe it, you know, don't question, this don't question it. You know, Jonah and the well actually happened. I'd be like, he got swallowed by a, well, a fish come on.

17:45 And the Sunday school teachers would be like, it's, that's what it says. And I'm like, okay. And so I did, I said, okay. And I believed it. That doesn't work today with this generation. You can't read them stories from the Bible. And they go like, oh, that's cool. I didn't know that happened. All right, great. They question everything. Everything is up for debate. And that makes, that makes Christians long-time Christians in particular like me a bit uncomfortable because like, what are you going to quit? You got to question the resurrection next. Right? And I've learned though that those who seek will find that Jesus isn't afraid of anyone's questions. Matter of fact, he encourages that he fosters it because why? Because it, it builds the potential for relationship. Because if people wit their questions are that they're permitted to come into a church community of community of faith and ask their questions in this, in a safe space of spiritual curiosity, then they I'm convinced they will find Jesus, their search, their quest will lead them to the cross convinced of it.

19:04 So I'm not afraid anymore of questions. I'm not afraid of asking them myself or other people asking them, because I know that curiosity paves the way it opens up the door to deeper conversations with Christ, because this is what I know about Jesus. He loves telling us his secrets. He doesn't hold back. If we lean in and we ask a follow up question, what do you mean by the sower and the soils? He will tell you, he will explain everything to you. Only those curious enough to get with Jesus alone and ask them some questions. We'll get be given the secrets of the kingdom of God, because the whole point of Jesus, the secret is to make it known to all of us, pay attention to what you hear, because when you get it more will be given that's the third point, pay attention to what you hear.

19:57 Don't just let it slip by you. That's why a lot of spiritual leaders will encourage you to journal, to write things down because as you hear them, what God is going to do is he's going to build on that. So when you hear one word from God and he explains one thing, you jot that down. And then, and then later as you continue to pursue Jesus, he's going to build on that. What you've learned already pay attention to what you hear is when you get it more will be given to you. When I was growing up in the church, you know, they would all those Bible stories, you know, that I mentioned, and, and David and Goliath was one of my favorite stories. And, and over time, you know, at first it was just about this, the short kid from Judea, that, and then that killed the giant.

20:52 And, but then I began to realize that that story was a metaphor in many ways about my own enemies and the things that I wrestle with in my temptations and the things that would try to draw me down. And God built on that story, deeper and deeper revelations about who he is and what he wants to do in my life. See, that's, that's called progressive revelation. God builds on what is, that's why you can open up the Bible and read something. You've, you've read a hundred times before and something fresh will leap off the page. It's the work of the holy spirit to build on what he's taught us more and more. I love what Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. When I was a child, I spoke like a child. I thought like a child. I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways for now.

21:42 We see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known, see right now, it's like a mirror dimly. We don't see everything completely clearly, but now over time, God is revealing more and more to us. And what's exciting to me is that I constantly see in a mirror dimly, I I've learned more and I've grown more in who Jesus is, but I still feel like I see because God is so vast. I just love how the church we box got in. You know, we like, we make neat and tidy God, here you go. This is who you should believe in. As if we got them all figured out, like we've, we've got the market on God. Christians got the market on God, how naive and arrogant that we would think we know God and nobody else does.

22:35 God is so vast. Yes, Jesus Christ is the fullest representation of God in the flesh. We have him as an example for us, but God is so much bigger than anything we can think. Or imagine that there's always more to learn. There's always, we never arrive. We never got it all figured out. And it's that curiosity and that progressive revelation that I love leaning into as a church and inviting others, especially young people into that journey with us, there's so much more that we don't get right now, but that God wants to reveal to us through Jesus. Wow. Invite calling back up as we draw to a close here, and I want us to practice hearing the voice of God. I think very few people take the time to cultivate the right soil, to have ears, to hear, to till the soil of our hearts, to be able to hear his voice, to truly listen and lean in, to understand the mysteries of God's kingdom and the way that you cultivate that soil Is by. Sometimes you have to get away with Jesus in order to hear from Jesus. And he has to pick a time that works in your life. But even right here in a room full of a few hundred people, we can get away for a moment.

24:01 We can get alone with Jesus, just right where you're sitting. It's easy for us because we're such individualists that we can do this. We can get alone with Jesus, right? Where we're sitting, even though there's hundreds of people next to us, where we can lean in and push out all the other thoughts that are trying to distract us and take a moment to hear his voice Curiosity opens the door up, right? It's another way to cultivate the soil is to be curious, to be comfortable with your questions and with other people's questions.

24:40 When you read the word, when you open up the word to ask, or what do you want to say to me today? What do you want to speak to me today? And then pay attention to what you hear as, as you lean in, as you seek to understand, think God will give you things. He will say things to you. And by the way, you may not know what the voice of Jesus is yet. You, it might be hard for you to recognize that voice, but I believe and told our staff this the other day, that I believe that God is constantly speaking, that there is a wavelength of God's voice constantly at work in our world. And us silencing the chaos around us for a moment, getting away with Jesus and seeking the tea. We can tap into that wavelength and he can begin to download things to us, for us to hear for us, to learn for us to grow in.

25:33 And I love that daily meditation that, that we saw in the video a moment ago during this lent season. I don't know if you've tried it yet, but we have a team of people that are putting together a daily kind of time away. It's so amazing. It's just so restful and peaceful and sets your heart. Right. I listened to it before my day begins and it sets my heart towards that day and, and west side You can find those videos there and I encourage you to this kind of a daily devotion, 10 or 15 minutes is all that they require. So I want us to practice. So what I want you to do is I want you to, first thing I want you to just grab something to write with. It's funny to me when people lean in to hear from Jesus and we don't have anything to write to write with. It's like,

26:23 It's like if I'm, if I'm in a meeting and it's in a really important meeting and, and I know that there's things that I'm going to want to capture for later, I don't just trust my memory. You know what I'm saying? I write it down. And how much more important is it when we take a moment to be in the presence of Jesus, just to have something ready to write down with. So maybe it's just your phone. That's what I use. I use my phone, but, just something that you're able to capture a word or a scripture or, a phrase. And then I want you to posture yourself in a way that helps you focus. So maybe close your eyes,

27:06 Maybe put both your feet on the ground, maybe sit up straight, just a posture of Jesus. I'm attentive to your voice. I want to listen. And sometimes I'll put my hands out in front of me, as well as just a kind of, an acknowledgement of physical demonstration. What I want to receive from you. I want to hear from you. And I asked Jesus, I simply say, speak to me, Lord, is this whisper that right? Where you're at Jesus, speak to me. I want to hear your voice. Now what's going to happen in just a moment is you're gonna do this. We're going to do this together. And there's things going to start to kind of come into your mind. And what you're going to be tempted to do is try to assess them right now as to whether they are Jesus or the pizza you had last night or something else. And you don't do that. Don't as drunk, assess it, Just write it down And you can assess it later. And I encourage you to do that, to share it with a trusted friend. Absolutely. But right now in this moment, it's not a moment to try to assess what you're hearing. It's a moment to quiet your heart. Listen, as, as you hear things, feel things since things to write those things down.

28:25 So let's do that. Let's quiet. Our hearts focus our heart and our mind on Jesus. Jesus. Our hearts are open, not just in this moment, but Lord, would you help us as a people to get away with you Consistently To spend time in your presence, To wait for your voice, teach us your ways, oh God, Teach us your secrets. Help us to know About your kingdom, about your way of love, help us to apply that, which you give to us. Jesus, in a way that's honoring to your word. Lord, help us to hear your still small voice in the chaos of our world. Your word is life. Your word is life, And we need you. Jesus, Jesus name. Amen.