Growing With Jesus

by Mar 6, 2018

They didn’t always get it. Jesus’ closest followers didn’t always understand what Jesus was talking about when he was teaching. He would often have to sit them down and explain his teaching again.They were still growing in their understanding of who Jesus is, what he’s doing, this new teaching about God’s kingdom and forgiveness of sins. Sure, these guys responded to Jesus right away when he said “follow me,” which is awesome, but that didn’t mean that they instantly had all the answers about what it means to follow Jesus. It wasn’t like the Matrix where it was all uploaded to them right away. They actually had to grow as they followed Jesus.

And so do we. We’re just like those early disciples. We don’t get what Jesus is saying in the Bible, or doing in our lives sometimes.Or we think we understand it but we learn later that we were looking at it the wrong way. Following Jesus is about growing, and we’re all still growing. And the way these guys are going to grow is by Jesus teaching them about himself and his Kingdom. So a disciple is someone who’s being taught and who’s learning and growing and changing.

Let’s see what Jesus teaches them to help them grow in Mark 4:

Jesus Will Grow Our Witness
Here’s what we read in Mark 4:21: “He also said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket or under a bed? Isn’t it to be put on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing concealed that will not be brought to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen.”Jesus asks them, do you bring a light into a dark room in order to hide the light? And their answer would be, of course not. The purpose of the light is so that it can be seen. If a lamp doesn’t help people see, then it’s useless, right? It needs to be put on the lamp stand, where it will light up the whole room.

In this parable the lamp, the light, is the gospel. That’s a word we use around our church a lot. Gospel means good news, and the good news that Jesus tells people, he says that it shouldn’t be hidden. So what’s this good news? It’s the news that God created everything, including us, and it was all perfect. Sounds good so far right? But then we rebelled against God and we all deserve to be punished. That doesn’t sound very good anymore. But here’s the good part. God promised to save us and then kept his promise by sending a Savior into the world to live and die for us. His death is what we deserve. So if we follow him, then we’re saved and will never die the death we deserve.

That’s the good news. That’s the lamp, the light, that’s going to drive out darkness in this world. And Jesus teaches them that this good news, this gospel was meant to be seen, broadcast. This parable is showing us that God will grow our witness for him. It’s helping disciples grow in mission. That’s one of the core values of our church. Mission. It means that each of us as followers of Jesus is given the responsibility of showing others who Jesus is by our life and our words; letting the light of the gospel be seen.

Who are the people in your life that God has given you the mission to be a light to? Are you shining that light? Communicating that good news? Or hiding it? Jesus said that his followers will shine that light; share that good news.

Jesus Will Grow Our Understanding
Jesus keeps teaching in verse 26: “The kingdom of God is like this,” he said. “A man scatters seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day; the seed sprouts and grows, although he doesn’t know how. The soil produces a crop by itself  —  first the blade, then the head, and then the full grain on the head. As soon as the crop is ready, he sends for the sickle, because the harvest has come.

This parable is only in Mark. It must have really left an impression on Peter. What’s Jesus teaching them here? He’s showing them what it looks like for the gospel to grow in a person’s life. This is what it looks like as the good news about Jesus transforms each of our lives. The gospel is that powerful seed that’s planted, it sprouts, then it grows, first it’s just a blade, then the head, then the grain. There’s this slow, gradual, growth process when a seed becomes a plant. That’s the process Jesus uses to describe how the gospel transforms us. He wants his disciples to know that maturity in following Jesus will happen gradually. A deep, strong faith will be grown over the course of our lives. But even when it’s still just a small blade of grass, that’s super fragile, it’s still alive. Even at it’s weakest point in the growth cycle, there’s still life there.

Maybe you’re struggling with your own growth. Maybe you’ve been following Jesus for a while, and you’re still battling the same kinds of sins. Or your struggling daily to have faith or peace, or even understand what it means to follow Jesus.

Or maybe your struggling with your spouse. You want them to grow faster, and be more spiritually minded. Bring their faith into the house more and into your relationship, and you’re getting impatient.

Or your children, or your parents. You just don’t understand why they don’t have the same level of strength that your faith is at.

Jesus is drawing his follower’s attention to the fact that it’s a slow growth; but if that faith is alive, it WILL grow. It’s been sown. It’s springing to life. Be excited for the life that you do see. And notice that the farmer, the sower, doesn’t know how this seed is growing. There’s a mystery to it. That’s because it’s God who’s bringing life and growth to that seed. Be confident in your life, your spouses life, your kids life, that Jesus will grow our understanding of who he is and how we should follow him.

Jesus Will Grow Our Family (Through Us)
Jesus continues in verse 30: “And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use to describe it? It’s like a mustard seed that, when sown upon the soil, is the smallest of all the seeds on the ground. And when sown, it comes up and grows taller than all the garden plants and produces large branches, so that the birds of the sky can nest in its shade.

This mustard seed is the work of the gospel in the whole world. He’s teaching them that his church will be small and weak in it’s beginning. The expression “Grain of mustard seed” was an expression the Jews would use for something very small and insignificant. Something that wasn’t really a big deal. And Jesus was saying that that’s how the church would start. The King of the universe would come to earth in a small, insignificant manger in a backwoods town. He’d gather some followers who were rejected by other teachers; these simple fishermen and tax collectors. He’d be put to death on a cross like a criminal. The start Jesus’ church seemed very weak and insignificant in the world’s eyes. But guys once it was planted, it began to grow and increase and change the entire world. That’s what we see happening in the book of Acts when thousands of people put their faith in Jesus during one sermon. Churches were being planted all over the world.

What he’s teaching us is that Jesus will grow our family. All over the Bible the church is described as a family. We’re adopted kids into God’s family. Our big brother Jesus defeated our enemy and now we’re brothers and sisters together. And Jesus is growing that family here, and all over the world. It’s exploding. And he wants to grow it through you.

You’re part of this. Disciples of Jesus are part of that, of building a worldwide kingdom. Harbor West is part of it in Vietnam. Part of it in Japan. Part of it in Thailand and all of SE Asia.  We have a team going there this summer that you’re called to be a part of. If Harbor West is your home church, you have two options. Go on this trip. Or send those who are going. Those are actually the only two options that God gives his followers. You’re either going, or you’re sending. How are you going to be a part of inviting more and more people into God’s family?

Part of it right here in Ewa. Easter is coming up, and there are lots of people who wouldn’t mind coming to church on Easter. You could invite your neighbors, your family, your friends. Invite them to meet your brothers and sisters, and see the family that God has given to you. Invite them into your family.

Maybe Jesus has you in a place right now where he’s teaching you a bunch through his word, community groups, journey groups. Pray that he would grow you in the areas that you need.