In the text we see a stark contrast between two men—one was courageous and the other a coward. One stood up for what was right, but the other capitulated to his guilt and fear of public opinion and did something terribly wrong. One thing we know for sure is that it takes courage to be Christian in a world that increasingly embraces all manner of evil. It is a world wrestling with its guilt by blaming others and pointing fingers rather than looking in the mirror and accepting personal responsibility for the choices they’ve made or the consequences of those choices.
In the text, we read that the Twelve men Jesus recruited back in chapter 3 verse 14, He empowered to go out into towns and villages as His ambassadors. An ambassador has conferred authority and power from the person he or she represents. Jesus called the Twelve, He trained them, taught them, and then He sent them out with the spiritual authority and power to do what they were asked to do.
Mark recorded that Jesus “could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them” (v. 5). Why so few? It is probably because only a few were willing to come to Jesus. The people could not set aside what they thought they knew about Jesus to believe that He could actually minister to them.
In short, when Jesus told Jairus “Do not fear; only believe,” Jesus was saying a mouthful: Don’t despair, only believe. Don’t give up, only believe. Don’t quit, don’t stop, don’t worry, don’t throw in the towel … ONLY BELIEVE because Jesus is on the way with authority over death, hell, and the grave! Only believe, because all things are possible in the name of Jesus!
They had come through the storm in the night only to land in an area most devout Jews would have avoided if at all possible. But here they are, and what is the first thing that happens as they get out of the boat? A shrieking, streaking demon-possessed man comes running toward them from the hills where the dead were buried and a very large herd of swine was grazing.
It is evident from what follows that Jesus was physically exhausted. He was fully God, but He was in a fully human body that required nourishment and rest. It had been a long day of teaching, probably much of the time sitting or standing in the sun, and it was evening now. If Jesus returned to the shore, the people would have been all up on Him, pressing in insisting on healing and deliverance from demons. So, Jesus wisely said, “Let’s take a little boat ride to the other side.”
A farmer who scatters seeds gets a good night of sleep because he knows there is power in the seed and he trusts the process to produce. If we aren’t planting any seed then we should be concerned, but if we are planting seed by sharing the gospel then we can be sure that our corner of the kingdom will be advancing and taking the territory from the enemy.
After the Parable of the Soils, the Gospel of Mark records the Parable of the Lamp. On the surface, what Jesus says here is self-evident: “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand?” (v. 21). This simply means that no one lights a lamp and then shoves it under his bed or puts it under a basket because that would defeat the purpose of having a lamp. Instead, a lamp is lit to shine a light, and to be most effective it is elevated on a stand it so that the light can fill the room.
This parable is often referred to as “The Parable of the Sower,” but perhaps a better title would be, “The Parable of the Soils,” because the sower and the seed are constant, but the variable in the parable is the various types of soil. Perhaps the most important point of the parable is to understand the soils and how the soil affects the productivity of the seed. The seed has the power to reproduce if it falls on good soil.
Think about it, of all the titles God could have chosen for Himself—and there are many names for God indicating His power and character—the most intimate and relational title He chose was “Father.” The Bible instructs us to pray in the name of Jesus, but Jesus teaches us to open our prayers with, “Our Father who is in heaven.”