July 28, 2021

Hearing and Believing

July 28, 2021


Psalm 65:8-13

Mark 4:30-34


Parables can be hard to understand, sometimes. The Gospel accounts note, on several occasions, that even those hearing them from Jesus, live and in person, had trouble understanding sometimes. And yet, this is how Jesus chose to teach the crowds—with stories and obscure examples, not necessarily hard facts or systematic theology.

Why would Jesus teach like this? Ben Witherington, in his commentary on Mark’s gospel, reminds us that “there was not an impermeable boundary between outsiders and insiders, but rather, the outsiders who heard and heeded the word would become insiders. Indeed, this was the goal, and the purpose of the parables was not obfuscation but revelation.” (Witherington, 173)

Jesus told stories because when people really got the stories, they changed their lives. This is why it’s so essential for God’s people to regularly hear the stories of Jesus in worship. We could learn systematic theology in a classroom all day and have our heads filled with knowledge, but until we fill our hearts with the stories of Jesus, our lives will never change. And life change is the goal.

– Ben Witherington, The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Eerdmans)


  • What stories have changed the way you live your life?
  • How often are you listening to the stories of Jesus—in scripture? In worship?


  • Which parable of Jesus is your favorite?


Almighty God, as your people we long to be a part of your story of redemption. We long to be characters in the ongoing story of your grace and love in the world. Through Jesus we pray, Amen.