First of a three-part study on Mark 4:21-23
“Also He said to them, ‘Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand?” (Mark 4:21).
Jesus has just taught the multitudes the Parable of the Sower following which He explains its meaning privately to His apostles. This parable emphasizes the importance of receiving the word with a ready mind.
Then, in this verse, He uses a “lamp” as a symbol of the word or more specifically of the gospel, which gives light to the World. And He uses a “basket” and a “bed” to represent suppression of the gospel.
So, even though the world is not yet ready to receive all of the gospel message, Jesus teaches His apostles here that they will become a beacon—a lampstand—whose purpose will be to transmit this spiritual light to the world.
Light is not meant to be hidden; rather, it is meant to be placed in a prominent position so that it can be seen by everyone, implying that the gospel message is to be known and understood by all.
“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22).
Caring for others and having love for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ have been a central part of Christianity since the very beginning of Christianity. In fact, even in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus includes the idea of brotherly love in His teaching.
If love is an integral part of the fabric of Christianity, then our hearts will be in the right place and our actions will demonstrate the love that is there. Peter teaches that our love is to be pure: that is, our hearts, our thinking, and our motivations must be in the right place if we are to be faithful children.
Peter joins the ranks of not only Jesus but also other New Testament writers in emphasizing the importance of the love Christians are to have for one another. But none of these writers ever failed to place equal emphasis on “obeying the truth.” Love never displaces obedience to God’s divine will; but, rather, the two work hand in hand as we conduct our lives as God would have us to.
“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (2 Peter 2:1-2).
Nothing is more important in our lives than growth—physical and spiritual growth. Physically, we understand the concept of growth: with proper soil, planting, and tending, plants grow; with proper nutrition and exercise, children grow; and the same is true for animals.
From a spiritual perspective, growth is a central theme in the New Testament. In fact, twenty-four passages insist that we are to grow up in Christ. Scholars define the words “grow up” as follows: “increase in power and strength; bring up to manhood; increase in size; to grow up in union with Christ.”
As well, the writings of the New Testament issue an imperative—not an option—that we grow up in every way as a Christian: in our relationship with Jesus, in living lives that resemble the kind of life that Jesus lived, in our union with Him, and in our dedication to Him.
Fulfilling this mandate requires that we immerse ourselves in His word, beginning with a proper understanding of the basic elements (the pure milk) and moving on to more complex issues (the meat). Only then can we mature into the kind of Christian He wants us to be.