Disciple – The Kingdom
Caleb Campbell

Good morning, church. My name is Caleb and I serve as one of the pastors here at Desert Springs.  Today what we’re going to do is we’re going to continue in a sermon series in the Gospel of Mark.  We’re going to be looking at Mark Chapter 4 today, so if you’re joining us online or in the room, I’d encourage you to grab a Bible.  If you don’t have a Bible and you’re here, present with us in person, there are some available on the tables in the back. 

Also, we’ve got the text printed out in the handout that you got today, so you’ve got that.  And for those of you, who are joining us online, if you don’t have a Bible handy, no problem.  Just go to bible.com.  We’re using the Christian Standard version of the Bible this morning.

Before we get into it, I want to say a huge thanks to the crew that went yesterday to work with Habitat for Humanity and helped to serve in that way just right down the street in the Palomino communities.  So huge thanks to those of you who served yesterday.

Also, huge thanks to our student ministry team, because they just did a weekend experience with about 100 teenagers for 48 hours.   For the few of you who have awakened this morning, thank you.  See you guys next week after you recuperate.  They did an amazing job, and it was tons of fun.  I got invited to participate a little bit, and it was a blast to be with them over the last couple of days.

What we’ve been doing through this series is we read a long portion of Scripture out loud.  And then we just kind of think about it.  We imagine it and then we have a dialogue about the text.  We’re going to do that again today.

Here’s one of the reasons why we’re doing things that way.  To my best understanding, the Scriptures were designed artistically to be read, predominantly received through your ears, not through your eyeballs. Now certainly I love reading the Bible.  We’re going to do a ton of that today.  But we recognize that the text was primarily designed to be read aloud and for a group of people to hear it and then to dialogue about it.

So we’re kind of tethering ourselves to that ancient tradition of hearing the Word.  I’m going to encourage you as I read through Mark four before you read it — and trust me, we’re going to read it — but maybe just even close your eyes or just allow your imagination to see it.  Allow the words to come over you.  And this is just one other little thing I would ask of you to do:  Be attentive to what the spirit of God may be doing is you hear the Word.  It may be that a word comes to mind, or a phrase sticks out.  Or maybe you kind of have an image in your mind as you’re hearing the Word.  Some of us may just be thinking about lunch.  That’s fine, whatever it is just notice what the spirit of God is doing as we read the text, and then we’ll dialogue about it.   There’s a ton of weird stuff in this week’s reading because we’re about to get into some parables, and parables are by design kind of weird.  So here we go.

“He began to teach by the sea, and a very large crowd gathered around him.  He got into the boat on the sea and sat down while the whole crowd was by the sea on the shore.  He taught them many things in parables.  And in His teaching, He said to them, listen, consider the sower who went out to to the field.  As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.  Other seeds fell on rocky ground where there was not much soil, and the seed grew up quickly.  Since the soil wasn’t deep when the sun came, the seedling was scorched.  Since it had no root, it withered away.   The other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it did not produce any fruit.  Still other seed fell on good ground.  And it grew up, producing fruit that increased 3060 and 100 times.  Then He said, ‘Let anyone who has ears to hear listen.’

When He was alone, those around him with the 12 disciples asked him about the parables and He answered them, ‘The secret of the Kingdom of God has been given to you.  But to those outside, everything comes in parables, so that they may indeed look and yet not perceive.  They may indeed listen, and yet not understand otherwise.  They may turn back and be forgiven.’

Then He said to them, ‘Don’t you understand this parable?  How then will you understand all of the parables?  The sower sows the Word.  Some are like the Word sewn on the path.  When they hear immediately Satan comes and takes away the words sown within them.  Others are like seed sown on rocky ground.  When they hear the word immediately, they receive it with joy.  But they have no root.  They are short-lived.  When distress or persecution comes because of the Word, they immediately fall away.  Others are like the seeds sown among the thorns.  These are the ones who hear the word, but the worries of this age, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful.   And those, like the seeds sown on good ground, hear the Word welcome it and produce fruit 30, 60 and 100 times what was sown.’  

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 them listen.’  And then He said to them, ‘Pay attention to what you hear.  By the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  And more will be added to you. For whoever has, more will be given to him, and whoever does not have even what he has, it will be taken away from him.  The Kingdom of God is like this.’  

He said ‘A man scatters seed onto the ground.  He sleeps and rises.  Night and day the seed sprouts and grows, although he does not know how the soil produces a crop by itself — first the blade, then the head, then the full grain on the head.  As soon as the crop is ready, he sends for the sickle because the harvest has come.

And He said, ’With what can we compare the Kingdom of God?  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 yet when the sun comes it grows taller than all the garden plants and produces large branches so that the birds of the sky can nest in its shade.’  

He was speaking the Word to them with many parables like these, and they were able to understand.  He did not speak to them without a parable.  Privately, however, He explained everything to his own disciples.”

This is the word of the Lord.

Wasn’t there a bunch of weird stuff in there?  Yeah, there’s a bunch of weird stuff and one of the things that’s weird for us, especially as modern readers or hearers, is this reality.  We’re not used to parables.  Parables are kind of strange.  It’s kind of a weird teaching device.

We may even wonder what a parable is, and I wanted to just help us out.  I hang out with a bunch of Bible nerds.  I read with a bunch of Bible nerds.  I am a Bible nerd, and I reached out to a buddy of mine, Ben Koletsky, who’s one of our strategic partners.  He actually does Bible translation, so he’s really good at understanding a lot of the nuances of like the original languages like Hebrew and Greek.  So I found a Bible nerd friend and asked him “What is a parable?   Take a look at this video.

(Video plays the following.)  “Parable is one of these words that I like to call ‘biblish.’  It’s kind of this biblish language that sounds familiar, but when you really think about it, you’re like what does that mean, right?  We don’t really hear that word used outside the Bible.  The word parable comes right out of the Greek word parabole,  and most English translations just give us those same letters, right?   One translation that I saw recently that actually gave something other than the word ‘parable’ is a new translation by Sarah Ruden.  She just translated the Gospels, and she calls them comparative stories and also at times analogies.  I think that’s actually a pretty good translation because essentially a parable is a story that can be compared to another truth of some kind.  So a story that is symbolic of something else.  And so with the parables of Jesus, they’re often about familiar things, right?  We have these stories about farming and agriculture and weddings and things that would be familiar to the people who heard them, although in a lot of cases the stories did not unfold in the way you might expect.  But they were familiar topics, and these stories always illustrated some kind of spiritual truth.  Most of these stories connected in some way to the Kingdom of God.  As Jesus was teaching, you know He was asking questions like ‘What is the Kingdom of God like?’ Or ‘How does a person gain access to the Kingdom of God?  When should we expect the Kingdom to come?  And so, as Jesus was teaching, He was telling these stories as a creative way to communicate truths about the Kingdom of God.”  (Video ends.)

Thanks, Ben.  Parables are comparative stories.  I love that.  That’s a great way to view it.  There’s a story told, and all the elements are relatively familiar to the hearers.  Yet it’s speaking to a deeper truth.

There’s something else about parables that we want to keep in mind.  Amy Jill Levine, who’s a brilliant New Testament scholar, says this about parables.  Parables were there to prompt people, the hearers, to see the world in a different way.  Parables were used by Jesus to prompt the hearers to see the world in a different way, to challenge, and at times even to indict.   We might be better off thinking less about what they mean and more about what they do.  The parables remind, provoke, refine, confront and disturb the hearers.  You know that a parable is working on you when you feel like it might be reminding you, provoking you, refining you, confronting you, or disturbing you.

And even in some of the text, as I was even preparing for today’s message, I found myself disturbed by some of the material in these parables.  And so here’s what I’m going to try to do today.  I’m going to try  — and this is really hard for me — not to give you a satisfying answer.

We’re going to look at a couple of the parables in particular, and we’re just going to notice some things.  I just want to help you notice some things, but I’m not going to tie it up.  I’m not going to tie up all the loose ends.  I’m just going to let us feel reminded, provoked, refined, confronted and disturbed.

And then here’s my challenge for you.  Here’s your application — if you will — for the day.  Just keep thinking about it.   Meditate on the Word that you heard. Let Jesus’s teaching get in here and remind you and frustrate you and confront you and provoke you and refine you.  And just see how your life might be different after a couple years of doing that.  How’s that sound?

The reason I’m posturing the sermon this way is that I think that’s how the parables are supposed to work, and if I jump in and tell you “Actually this just means this” and you feel comfortable now, then it’s not working.

Again, He began to teach by the sea … ***TV time out.  Do you guys remember last week?  For those of you here with us last week that we said that a lot of the times Mark was saying Jesus was going around teaching, but He rarely if ever told us what He was teaching? This is one of two times where we see a little extended discourse and what Jesus is actually teaching.

Jesus began to teach them by the sea, and a very large crowd — there we see that again, these large crowds keep coming — so He got into a boat on the sea, and He sat down while the whole crowd was by the sea on the shore.  He taught them many things in parables, and in His teaching.   He said to them, “Listen.”

Now that “listen” language could also be translated as “hear me,” right?  So listen up, and I think he’s actually riffing on the book of Deuteronomy.  It’s called the Shama, it’s what the Jewish people would have said: “Hear, oh Israel.  The Lord our God the Lord is here.  Listen, listen up, listen.”  So what are we supposed to do?  OK, we’re just going to listen.

Consider the sower.  Consider a person who’s got a bunch of seed and he’s out in the field sowing the seed.  Right?  Consider the sower who went out to sow to toss the seeds out, and as he sowed, some seed fell along the path and the birds came and devoured it.

How many of you guys do winter grass?  Anybody like rye winter grass?  Is this familiar to you?  You wake up the next morning and there’s like 1000 pigeons or doves in your yard and you think “Give me the shotgun.  And then you have pay off your HOA because of the noise ordinances and the blood.  You know that’s not normal?  Is that just me?

OK, so some seed fell along the path and the birds came and devoured it.  Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, right?  So hello, Phoenix!  When you dig down far enough, you’re going to hit a rock, right?  So rocky ground where it didn’t have much.  But since the soil was shallow, when the sun came up, the seedling was scorched.  Since it had no root — notice, no root — it withered away.  Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it didn’t produce.  Just notice right notice, now we’ve got three types of soil.  Is it different seed or the same seed?  Same.

What’s different about all three of these?  The soil, right?  Notice that none of them produced fruit, right?  Some of them withered away. Some of them grew up but didn’t produce fruit.  Still other seeds fell on good ground and grew up producing what?  The yield increased 30, 60 and 100 times.

Then He said, let anyone who ears has ears to hear do what?  Listen, right?  Anyone who has ears to hear, listen.  I read that and I’m thinking “What is going on here?  What are we talking about?”   Can you guys see the imagery in your mind?  That’s not hard to understand, right?  The actual illustration is not hard to understand.  It’s a person out in the field, sowing seed and there are different types of ground.  The question is “So what?”  What’s the point?

You guys are there with me, aren’t you, OK?

When He was alone those around Him asked about the parables.  Of course they did!  Because they’re just like us.  We’re thinking,” What’s the point?”  He answered them that the secret of the Kingdom of God …***TV time out

*** If you rewind the tape back to the first time we started this study, do you remember that Jesus came proclaiming the gospel of the good news?  Jesus continually throughout the Gospel of Mark talks about a Kingdom, a Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of God that is coming through Him.  Jesus even says when people are around Him, they are near the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God has come near.  It’s right here.  It’s imminent.  And here now we’re learning the secrets of what? We’re learning the secrets of the Kingdom of God. ***

What does the Kingdom of God have to do with do with the sower?  I’m glad you asked.  The Kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those who are outside, everything comes in parables.  So that they may indeed look and yet not perceive.  Now he’s riffing on Isaiah, a prophet in the Old Testament.  They may indeed listen and yet not understand.  Otherwise, they might turn back and be forgiven.

Then He said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable?”  We’re just like the disciples.  OK, Jesus.  That sounds really harsh.  Didn’t Jesus sound harsh right there?  And isn’t that a little bit disturbing?  Isn’t that one of the things that parables do?   OK, so it might be working.  OK, so we’re a little bit disturbed.  Don’t you understand this parable?  No, I don’t.  How then will you understand all the parables?  I don’t know.   Help us out, Jesus.

And now we get the commentary.  Watch this.  The sower sows.  So now He’s going to explain it to us.  But just notice that throughout the Gospel of Mark, He doesn’t always do this.  In fact, it’s rare for Him to explain.  Jesus seems to lay out these parables with the expectation that they’re going to get in our minds and we’re going to mull around them for a while — that it’s going to do things like refine and disturb and confront.

The sower sows the Word …  So notice now it’s not a seed anymore.   It’s the Word about a Kingdom, right?  But so far, just put yourself in the room.  So far you’re hearing this.  How has He defined the Word?  OK, so now it’s getting more complex, but we’re just going to go with him ’cause He’s Jesus and He loves us and we think He’s pretty smart.   Now the metaphor gets switched.  It’s not the seed that gets planted, it’s the Word that gets heard.

Satan comes and takes away the Word sown in them.  Is that disturbing?  Yeah, and I’m not gonna make it easy for you.  I’m just gonna keep going.  And others are like seed sown on rocky ground when they hear the Word immediately.  There’s immediately again.  They receive it with joy, but they have no root.  They are short-lived.

Is that disturbing?  Yeah, it’s disturbing.  When distress or persecution comes because of the Word, they immediately fall away.  Others are like seeds sown among the thorns.  These are the ones who hear the word, but the worries of this age, the deceitfulness of wealth — hello, Americans — and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word.  Hello, individualistic capitalistic society.  The desires for other things enter in and choke the word and it becomes what?  Here we are again – unfruitful.  Notice the metaphor didn’t change.  He kept “unfruitful.”  Do you remember that the seed sown in the soil with the thorns was unfruitful?  And here He uses the same word, unfruitful, right?  He doesn’t change it.  And those like seeds sown on good ground, hear the word and welcome it and produce fruit.  A little or a lot?  Well, like 30, 60 and 100 times.  That’s lots of fruit.

Notice the text.  I know that there were four types of soil, but there were really only two — fruitful and unfruitful.  Right now, Jesus seems to be saying that the soil is people.  He seems to be saying people are dirt. Have you guys ever heard the words “ashes to ashes” or “dust to dust?”  I don’t think he’s barking up a crazy tree right now.  He seems to be saying people are like dirt, and actually people are kind of like plants.  They kind of grow, right?  So what’s He doing?

He says imagine the sower is sowing the seed and the seed is the Word and the Word lands on different types of soil.  The birds come.  Are the birds good guys or bad guys?  Yeah, like Satan, bad guys.  When you plant winter rye, Satan is coming.  And then there’s fruitful soil.

I just want to notice something for those of you who are maybe this is your first time ever reading the Bible.  I’m so glad you’re here.  For those of you who have studied the Bible before, maybe you’re familiar with this.   Let’s do a little pop quiz.  Is fruit in the Bible, a physical or spiritual thing?  It’s both.  But then it’s used as a metaphor to describe what is produced within our lives — like the thing in Galatians, the fruits of the spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness.  Jesus seems to be saying, “When the Word is sown in some dirt it doesn’t produce anything, and in other dirt it produces fruit.”

I think that in the Scripture the fruit that comes out of hearing the good news of the Kingdom of God and living the Kingdom of God values.  To put it in another way, in the Lord’s Prayer, when the disciples go to Jesus, and ask Him to teach them to pray, Jesus says “Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy Kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth as it is in the Kingdom of God.”

We know that in the Kingdom of God, kids get clean water.  And so if there are places where kids don’t get clean water, we get to be a people who bear fruit and provide clean water.  And we’re actually doing that right now.  We’re partnering with World Vision to provide clean water.  Lindsay Boss is leading the team, and I’m going to have her come up here in just a minute.  We’re fundraising to provide clean water because we believe that it’s part of the fruit of living out the Kingdom.  I want to give you guys a chance to get caught up if you haven’t heard about it already.  So take a look at this video.  (Video starts.)

“Charu has no choice.  She and millions like her must walk miles every day for dirty water.  But together we can end their walk by providing clean water close by.  Instead of spending hours walking to get water that makes them sick, girls can be in a classroom that expands their minds.  Moms will gain back time to care for their families.  Sons and daughters can grow up strong, finally free of sickness caused by dirty water.  At World Vision, care about clean water runs deep.  Every child, every person, everywhere deserves clean water and a chance to rise to their full potential.  When you just add water, you change the life.  Learn more at Worldvision.org.”

I’m here with Lindsay Boss, who is definitely boss status.  Lindsay, tell us what you’re up to.

“So hi.  I’m the team captain for the DSBC World Vision team and we have some of our team members here.  So we just ask that you either stand or wave — whatever you feel most comfortable.  Yeah, give them a round of applause.

These brave souls are training for a half-marathon, which is 13 .1 miles.  They’ve been working so hard since October in order to train for the race as well as raise money so that children can drop their Jerry cans and go to school.  The race will be about two weeks from now, which is February 12th.  If you’re interested in donating and helping to get these kids to drop their jerrycans and go to school, you can either talk to one of the team members individually, go out in the lobby afterwards.    We also have a link on our DSBC website under events.  Every $50 will give a lifetime of life-changing clean water for one person, so it is so impactful.

World Vision is the largest non-governmental organization providing water throughout the whole world.   It makes a huge difference in people’s lives.  In a lot of these African villages, the closest water source is three miles away — a dirty river.   Everyday people are carrying these Jerry cans or whatever they can carry.  The little kids can’t carry a Jerry can, so they’re carrying whatever they can find to go down to a dirty river.  And they have to drink it. There’s no other option.  There’s no other water source.

But then the Kingdom of God shows up.  It arrives in the middle of the despair and darkness and just radically transforms these villages.  World Vision shows up.  It’s a Christian humanitarian organization and says, ”We can build a well and pipelines right in the middle of the village.  We can make it so that your children no longer have to walk hours for water.  We can make it so that your people no longer have to drink dirty, disease-infested water.  We can make it so that your people can drink life-changing clean water.

It’s an expression of the Kingdom of God.   You know that everything we do at DSBC it comes down to our mission of transforming people to have an impact in their world for Christ.  It is just such a such a beautiful expression of God’s Kingdom, and I just want to invite you guys, all of you guys to be a part of what we’re doing.  The goal is to raise $40,000.  I checked this morning and we’re just under $16000.   If you all want to get on board with this and sponsor these runners, you can check in with one of our runners if you’re in the room.  There’s also a link for those of you who are online.   We’d love to have you guys participate.”

(Back to Caleb.)  This is awesome.  This is one of many expressions of bearing fruit, right?  What we’re going to do now is we’re going to kind of skip over a couple of the other parables, primarily because of time.  They are amazing and I would love to frustrate you even further by reading them out loud.  But what I’d like to do is get us to verse 30.  Yeah, the parable of the mustard seed.

We’ve been talking about the mystery of what?  The mystery of the Kingdom of God, right?  The Word of the Kingdom of God.  Jesus is saying things in parables to describe the Kingdom of God.  Notice in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus never comes out and says, this is exactly what the Kingdom of God is.  He speaks in parables.

With what can we compare the Kingdom of God?  I love that question.   Or what parable can we use to describe it?   “I don’t know, you tell us.”  Once you get to that space, you’re listening to Jesus. You’re asking, “Jesus, talk to us about the Kingdom of God.  What’s the mystery of the Kingdom of God?  Tell us more please about the Kingdom that you’ve been proclaiming good news about.  What are we talking about?  Kingdom what?”

You’ve heard of these before.   What would be like an empire you’ve heard of before — the British Empire?  Anybody else?  Rome?  Babylon, Persia – right, empires.  And when you think of empires, do you think of things that are weak and small, or do you think about things that are big and mighty?

What are some of the animals that they use to represent empires?  If you’ve been to Washington DC, you’ll see these animals.  An elephant, right?  A horse and rider.  Do you ever see like bunny rabbits?  Imagine it — “Welcome to Rome.  This is our iconic hamster. “  No, it’s always big.

What kind of trees or plants would you use to describe a mighty Kingdom?  A Redwood or a mighty oak.  Are you guys primed for what’s about to happen next?  What happens next is Jesus tells a joke.  Because what has He been talking about?  The Kingdom, right?  So we’re all primed for cedars, horses and eagles.   Jesus, to what should we compare the Kingdom of God?  Obviously, it’s going to be something big and mighty.

It’s like a mustard seed.  Wait, wait. wait.  The Kingdom of like God is like a what now?  What did He say?  A mustard seed.  This must be a joke.  It’s like a mustard seed that when sown upon the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on the ground.  But when sown it comes up and grows taller than all the other garden plants and produces large branches so that the birds of the sky can nest in its shade.

The King of God is like what now?  You tell me.  So the next time one of your friends says, “Hey, I heard you follow Jesus.  What’s that like?”   And you go to your fridge and you pull out the yellow jar.  “Do you want to come to church next week?”  Right isn’t it strange, right?  Isn’t this weird?  What Jesus is doing here is confronting.  He is reminding.  He’s provoking.  He’s disturbing.  And He is refining.  Because our expectation for the Kingdom is big and mighty and a show of force.  Is that how a mustard plant grows?

This is phenomenal to me.  One of the things that the ancients around Jesus thought about mustard seeds is that it had medicinal purposes.  So it was kind of a curative plant, it.  It brought healing.  In the ancient mind, there’s something else about mustard seeds or mustard plants.  They can be cultivated.   So when you sow a mustard seed, you do it with intent, right?  That’s not wild, that’s intentional.

Jesus knows the mustard can be cultivated.  But another thing we also know is that mustard is that it propagates in the wild.  Once you get it in your garden, it’s very difficult to get it out.  It’s like Bermuda grass.  There’s something going on, but you oftentimes don’t see it ’cause it’s under the surface, right?  That’s the way that the mustard plant grows.  It’s not only medicinal according to the ancient minds, but also anyone can get it.  Usually in Jesus’s day it was primarily the wealthy and the powerful who had gardens.   And yet anyone could walk up and take of the mustard, this curative plant.


Now I’m not trying to make any points.  Not trying to give any application, I’m just trying to notice that what Jesus might be doing here subverts the common view of how kingdoms grow.  Because kingdoms in Jesus Day and in our day grow at the edge of a bloodied sword.  And yet in Jesus Kingdom, it’s something that’s like a seed and you don’t actually see it working.

This is one of the funny things about plants.  You plant the seed and unless you’ve got one of those clear cases with the soil in it, you don’t get to see what’s going on.  That’s interesting, because it means that the Kingdom of God could be at work, even if I can’t see it.  For me this has been a helpful corrective because I tend to think the bigger the better.  Right, a big wow.  A big boom.   But according to Jesus talking about the Kingdom of God, God seems to be at work in like quiet, subtle ways.  It’s available to all, and even oftentimes growing in ways that I can’t see.  I think what Jesus might be calling us to do faithful things for God.  And sometimes being faithful means that the work is just quiet and under the surface.  It’s for the healing of people.  It’s for blessing, but it may not be big.

The joke about this is that even when the mustard plant is fully grown, especially in and around Jerusalem in the Galilean area, it’s still not very big.  It’s kind of scrubby.  It’s not really super attractive on outward appearances.  The medicinal value is when you receive it, not how it looks on the outside, not how majestic it is, but in the reception.

“So I’m not going to make any application points,” he says, coyly.  But I would just ask you to consider the dirt of your heart — the soil that’s inside.  As you hear the word of Jesus and as you as you watch Jesus throughout this study and on your own study, will it be with a heart that’s ready to receive what Jesus has for us?  A heart that receives what Jesus has for us and then produces good fruit — even if the producing of that fruit is kind of under the radar and not really super awe-inspiring and attractive — but for the blessing and service of others.

I just encourage you to meditate on that his week.  Let these parables roll around in your mind.  Next time you see a bunch of dirt, think about Jesus.  Next time you drive through Home Depot’s Garden section and you see the little seeds, just look for the mustard seed and think about the Kingdom of God.  See if that doesn’t impact or change your life.

Let me pray for us.  Lord, we love you.  We see in our study of the Gospel of Mark that you love us.  And we want to be receptive to the good news of your Kingdom.  We want to be a people who are receptive to the words — that it would be not only planted within us, but also that it would produce much good fruit.  Lord, would you continue to refine us, confront us, challenge us, provoke us and disturb us.  As we consider your teachings as we consider your life, Jesus, and as we follow you, we ask these things, Lord, knowing that you love us and You’re powerful to bring them about, and so we entrust ourselves to You.  Amen. Amen.

Church family, I love you.  More importantly, Jesus loves you more than you can ever imagine.  Let us go and live in light of this truth.   We’ll see you next time. ###