World English Bible translation
4:21He said to them, "Is the lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Isn't it put on a lampstand? 4:22 For there is nothing hidden, except that it should be made known; neither was anything made secret, but that it should come to light. 4:23 If any man has ears to hear, let him hear."
This section of Mark concentrates on the teachings of Jesus. Mark probably pulls together many different occasions to make up these lists of sayings of Jesus. He began this section with the Parable of the Sower. After an explanation of that main parable, there are several parables and sayings given one after another. In this short parable, the truth, or more likely the Kingdom of God is compared to a common household lamp.
Many of the parables were memorable because they used common elements of everyday lives of the people. Some of them are told from the perspective of the simple rural lives of the people of the countryside, shepherds and farmers. Some of them are told from the perspective of people who lived in the more metropolitan areas of Galilee. Today's parable was one that anyone could understand and readily grasp.
Jesus asked His disciples, "Is the lamp brought to be put under a basket or a bed? Isn't it put on a lampstand?" No one lights a lamp in order to hide it. Rather, the lamp is lit in order to illuminate a room or area. Jesus told them that things that were hidden would be made known and things that were secret would come to light. But, in this parable, what does the lamp represent and what are the things being hidden?
The nature of parable is such that it is open to many interpretations. The lamp in this case may be thought to possibly mean several things. The lamp might represent truth, the Kingdom of God or perhaps even Christ Himself. It may be best in this case to not even interpret this particular parable in an allegorical way. From this perspective, Jesus did not mean the lamp to represent any other concept. Jesus simply uses the concept of a lamp to express to His disciples that God is bringing the light of truth into the darkness of the world.
Jesus often uses metaphors of light and darkness in His teaching. One of the basic themes is that God is revealing something new to the world through the teaching of Jesus. This revelation comes to the people as the light of the sun dawns for a new day. God's revelation is available to all, though some are blind to its arrival.
What did Jesus mean to tell His disciples when He expressed that the things that are secret will be made known and the things that are hidden will be brought into the light? One of the common themes of all the gospels is that the disciples were largely ignorant of the ramifications of the teachings of Jesus before His death. Many of them did not anticipate that He would be crucified. Though there seemed to be foreshadowing from the very beginning, the disciples were shocked when the end came.
Jesus on the other hand, in every gospel, anticipates and prepares His disciples for His own death. The meaning of His death and His subsequent resurrection are the ultimate secret that will be revealed. In the light of this great truth, many minor realities will also be brought to light. The nature of the Son and His relationship with the Father will be made known. The need for a new covenant between man and God will be revealed. And most of all, the grace and compassion of God for His lost creation will be expressed in the willing sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, "If any man had ears to hear, let him hear." It is not enough to simply be born with ears. We must be willing to listen. We must be ready to hear. Are you willing to hear what God is saying? Are willing to hear, and OBEY, the Son of God?
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