- Sermon Notes
Christ Must Increase
January 24, 2021
1. One of my favorite testimonies regarding Jesus Christ comes from John the Baptist.
2. God anointed John to prepare the way for the coming of Messiah in fulfillment of the prophecies found in Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6.
3. People traveled great distances to hear John teach and to be baptized by him. His ministry experienced explosive growth.
4. But there came a time of transition.
5. After John had baptized Jesus and testified that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” a shift occurred.
6. The people began to flock to Jesus while the crowds began to dwindle for John.
7. Some might have had their feelings hurt or their noses bent out of joint, but not John.
8. When some of his disciples questioned if it was better to be baptized by Jesus or John, John the Baptist, put the question to rest.
9. In fact, I believe, John uttered words which should be inscribed on the hearts of us all because his words capture the essence of who Jesus is and the priority His person and words should have in our lives.
John 3:27-30, A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, “I am not the Christ,” but, “I have been sent ahead of Him.” He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this
joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease.
10. Likewise, Jesus Christ must increase, but we must decrease. How?
11. This evening as we study Mark 4:21-29, we will uncover the answer to this mystery by looking to some parables taught by Jesus.
12. From Jesus we will learn why Christ Must Increase along with the blessing that comes to those who invite Him to increase in their lives.
1. When we arrive at Mark 4, Jesus’ ministry has exploded onto the scene in Israel and the ripple effects have been felt ever since.
a. At this time in His ministry, many were in awe of Jesus and followed Him joyfully, hanging on His every word, watching His every move.
b. At the same time, there was growing animosity towards Jesus. The Jewish leaders felt threatened by His powerful teaching and His command over demons and disease.
c. Jesus was a polarizing figure. It was true then as it is today.
2. In fact, when we come to Mark 4, another major shift has occurred but this time it had to do with Jesus’ teaching approach; He began to teach parables to the crowds who followed Him.
a. First, we will define what a parable is.
b. Second, we will determine why Jesus taught parables.
3. First, what is a parable? The word parable comes from two Greek words, para and ballō which together means “to throw alongside.”
4. A parable, like a story or an illustration, makes a comparison between a known truth and an unknown truth; it “throws them alongside” each other.
5. A parable teaches one main truth, though there might be many parts or different characters used to develop the main truth further.
6. Jesus used familiar things like sowing seed to reveal spiritual truths that had never been revealed to Israel in the Old Testament, truths about the kingdom of God.
7. Because parables use something familiar in story-form to make a point, the parable draws the listener into the story in order to bring them to a point of decision.
8. Second, why did Jesus shift His teaching approach and use parables?
9. Context is helpful to answer this question.
a. In Mark 3:20-30 (c.f. Matthew 12), the scribes and Pharisees accused Jesus of using Satanic powers to heal people and deliver demoniacs from evil spirits.
b. Their accusation was an official rejection of Jesus by the religious establishment.
c. In essence, they declared that Jesus was not Israel’s Messiah because He was from hell.
10. Now, their final rejection occurred when the Jewish leaders asked Pontius Pilate to release Barabbas so that Jesus could be crucified (Matthew 27:20-22).
11. Nevertheless, the lines were drawn in Mark 3 because Israel had officially rejected their King.
12. This background information helps us understand what Jesus meant in Mark 4:10-12, when He gave two reasons for using parables:
a. First, parables reveal spiritual truth about the kingdom of God to those who earnestly seek it. But parables also conceal spiritual truth from those who do not. Therefore, parables reveal and conceal spiritual truth.
b. Second, by using parables, Jesus fulfilled Messianic prophecy.
Psalm 78:2, I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old. . .
Transition – With this context in mind, let’s look at the parable found in verses 21-23. Here we will discover the first reason for why Jesus Christ must increase. . .
I. Jesus is God’s Special Revelation to Us
• What do I mean when I say, “Jesus is God’s special revelation to us?”
• First, I mean God is love and He loves us.
1 John 4:16, We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love. . .
• Second, love communicates its intentions. It is true for marriages, families, and friendships, love communicates.
• Well, how has God primarily chosen to communicate His intentions to us?
• There are two main categories: 1.) General Revelation, and 2.) Special Revelation.
• Through General Revelation God has communicated to all creation that He exists.
• That fact of God’s existence is seen through His creation and our conscience.
• In fact, the Apostle Paul declared that God has said so much about Himself through His creation and our consciences that we have been left without an excuse; we must conclude that God exists and is worthy of our loyalty and humble adoration.
Romans 1:20, For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
Transition – But is General Revelation enough to bring us into a personal, intimate relationship with the God of all creation? The answer is “No!”
• So God communicated specifically through messengers such as angels and prophets to record His inspired, inerrant written Word, the Bible, a Special Revelation.
• But the ultimate Special Revelation is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Hebrews 1:1-3, God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.
APPL – Through God’s Word and through His Son, Jesus Christ, God has communicated how we may enjoy a life-transforming and an eternity securing relationship with Him.
• God has made His loving intentions known.
• God will never leave Himself without a witness.
Transition – This is the point of Jesus parable in verses 21-23.
A. Jesus is the Light of the world
1. Jesus explained what we all know by experience, when you want to see in the dark you turn on a light; or light a lamp.
ILLUS – Driving on a dark, rainy night.
2. Jesus’ enemies wanted to hide Jesus by labeling His teachings as heresy and by claiming His miracles were demonically empowered.
3. But Jesus is the Light of the world and the truth of His person and purpose cannot be hidden.
4. Which bring us to verse 22. Jesus said, “For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light.”
5. What does this verse mean?
6. In the OT there are prophesies concerning Messiah like Micah 5:2 which declares the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
7. And there are types which point to facets of Messiah’s person, purpose, and ministry such as the Passover Lamb in Exodus 12.
8. But the OT saints did not fully grasp the meaning of these Messianic prophecies or types because they were hidden from them, like a mystery, waiting to be revealed at the proper time.
9. So in verse 22, Jesus was declaring the mystery about Messiah is no longer a mystery because He, the Messiah, has come.
a. Jesus will fulfill all Messianic prophecies.
b. And He was confirmed by His miracles, teachings, and the testimonies of those like John the Baptist.
c. But ultimately, it is the resurrection which confirms Jesus is Messiah.
10. Jesus is the Light of the world and He has shattered the darkness with His very presence.
a. His glorious presence will never be diminished.
b. His glorious truth will never be darkened or destroyed.
John 8:12, I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.
APPL – This is good news because we are living in dark days.
• Jesus must and will increase.
• Jesus must and will shine.
Transition – How does Jesus shine today? Through His Word and through His people, the Church.
B. Let Christ’s light shine through you
1. Immediately before this parable of the lamp Jesus taught the parable of the Four Soils.
2. The parable of the Four Soils describes the four different responses to the Gospel, the seed.
a. First Soil: Satan immediately snatches away the seed that is sown so that the unbelieving remain unbelievers. (15)
b. Second Soil: Seed that fell on the rocky places represents those who hear the Gospel and respond with joy but because they have no firm root in themselves, immediately fall away when affliction or persecution arises. (16-17)
c. Third Soil: Seed sown among the thorns are those who hear the Gospel but the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things chokes out the Gospel, making it unfruitful. (18-19)
d. Fourth Soil: Seed falls on the good soil represents those who hear the Gospel and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold. (20)
3. Why would Jesus share a parable about a bright-shining lamp right after He explained a parable about the four responses to the Gospel?
4. Because Jesus, the Sower of the seed and the Light of the world, wants all to see the connection between bearing fruit by letting the Gospel shine through you. Let Christ’s light shine through you.
Matthew 5:14-16, You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
APPL – How do we let Christ’s light shine through us? Have an honest relationship with God by letting His light shine upon you.
1 John 1:5-7, This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
• God is light so do not pretend you are walking with God if you are living in darkness.
• Own your mistakes. Be honest with God and have your fellowship with Him restored.
• Walk in the light and let His light shine upon you and through you.
Transition – How important is this? Jesus said, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” (23)
• Literally, Jesus said, “If anyone has ears to hear, he had better listen!”
• Meaning. . .
II. Guard Your Heart with All Diligence
• If you want to maintain the soil of your heart. . .
• If you want to protect the good seed that has been planted in your soul. . .
• If you want Christ to shine through you. . .
• Then guard your heart with all diligence.
Proverbs 4:23, Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (NIV)
A. A teachable heart is a blessed heart
1. Jesus said, “Take care what you listen to.”
2. That is a good word for us today. “Take care what you listen to.” (24)
ILLUS – Our world is filled with a lot of noise.
APPL – Our souls were made for better listening, better words, words which are true, that will edify us, strengthen us, heal us, and give us peace.
Philippians 4:8, Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
3. Jesus was saying that He is true and His words are truth.
4. If you receive His words, the seed of the Gospel, and accept it, more will be given to you. (24)
a. Both in this life and in the life to come.
b. More will be given to you because God is generous.
c. When people are hungry for Him and His truth, He gives abundantly, pressed down and overflowing. They are satisfied.
Matthew 5:6, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
5. But if you reject Jesus and His words, then what has been shared with you along with the blessings that have been offered to you will be taken away when this life is over. (25)
ILLUS – Tune into Jesus. Set the dial and all the presets to Jesus.
• Jesus is life and His words are life.
• Jesus is our Light and our life.
John 1:4, In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
• Christ must increase.
B. The Holy Spirit will bring the increase
1. In verses 26-29, Jesus spoke a farmer who sows the seed and it grows.
2. How the seed grows the farmer does not know.
3. But it does and when the seed is ready, the farmer immediately harvests the seed.
4. What truth was Jesus communicating through this parable?
5. That the Gospel spreads from person to person and within a person by the Holy Spirit.
6. Christ will increase from person to person and within each Christian because of the work of the Holy Spirit.
7. Paul spoke of the Gospel spreading person to person in 1 Corinthians 3:6.
1 Corinthians 3:6, I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.
APPL – Would you like to hear some good news?
• The Gospel will never be chained, thwarted, darkened, defeated, or stopped.
• The Holy Spirit is at work, on the move, and He is changing lives. Christ will increase.
Galatians 6:9, Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
APPL – Let Christ increase in you and through you.
• Walk in the Light and let Christ’s Light shine upon you and through you.
• Guard your heart. Listen to Jesus and bear good fruit.
Ephesians 5:8, 15-16, for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light. . . Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
21 And He was saying to them, “A lamp is not brought to be put under a [a]basket, or under a bed, is it? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand? 22 For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, [b]let him hear.” 24 And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. [c]By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides. 25 For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”
26 And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; 27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up daily, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. 28 The soil produces crops by itself; first the stalk, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. 29 Now when the crop permits, he immediately [d]puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”