Mark 4 v 21 - 25

Here are some very familiar sayings and perhaps their familiarity might prevent us from true observing them as lasting gems. Mark has decided to collect these sayings, whereas Matthew drops them into different areas of his Gospel. So, we must not seek to connect them up. We can, however, take from these verses that, firstly, Jesus said things which stuck in the memory: short, pithy and powerful and also memorable. Secondly, just like Martin Luther King's ''I have a dream'' Jesus would have repeated these sayings as He moved from place to place.

Let's look at these sayings:

1. Obviously, when a light is put on the intention is for it to give light to the room! Jesus is saying that truth is meant to be seen and our Christian faith is intended to be known. There is no place for a 'private' or secret faith in Jesus.

2. Jesus declared that what we receive is determined by what we give. The way to Christian growth is through giving: so often the ones who give themselves in service within the church or outside of it are the ones who grow and go deeper in their faith. The one who thinks only of receiving is the one who remains a baby Christian. If we want others to love us, we must first love them.

3. Jesus gives a hard truth in verse 25. The more we know, the more capable we are of knowing; the more physical strength we have, the more we can acquire; the more we develop skills or crafts, the more we are able to develop them. If we neglect them then very soon we find that we can lose them altogether.

4. The more responsibility we take on, the more we are able to bear. There is the saying: ''If you want something done, ask a busy person''. If we shirk responsibility then we become unfit and unable to take any even reasonable decisions.

Throughout the teaching of Jesus-in His parables and His pithy sayings-there is the assumption that the reward of good work is to be given more work. The reverse is also clear: if we are not prepared to make the effort, we will lose even that which once we had won. Listening to the reading by Kate on Sunday of the parable of the talents reminded me that the servant given one talent had demonstrated his potential to use that one talent- worth today many thousands of pounds-and yet he chose not to use it, but to bury it in the ground. I ask myself and you: ''Are we burying the talents we have in the ground?''

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