Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Ruth 2 – Boaz is a relative of Elimelech and a rich man as well. Ruth goes to glean in his fields behind the reapers. Women with no man to whom they were attached had to glean like the poor, taking the remnants of the harvested grain. Boaz inquires about her and learns she has been gleaning for long hours. He talks to her, tells her to stay in his fields, that he has instructed his people not to bother her. Ruth prostrates herself before him and asks why he is being kind. He tells her he has heard her story, of her loyalty and good treatment of Naomi: “May the Lord reward you for your deeds, and may you have a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!” (2:12)
Mark 4:20-35 - The parable of the lamp. People don’t use lamps or light to hide things. Light is meant to open things to people. So the wisdom Jesus’ is offering us is not meant to be a secret or hidden “lamp” but is meant to shine in the open (4:21-25).
And the standards we use to judge things, the “measure” we use will be used to measure us as well (4:24-25).
Then Jesus compares the “kingdom of God” to a man scattering seed on the ground. He may scatter the seed, but as for how it grows, how it gives forth fruit, this is not something he can understand or control. It all depends on the soil. It happens “of its own accord” (4:28). He comes in again only to harvest what has come of his labor.
Jesus used a lot of “seed” parables. He tells one about the mustard seed as a way of explaining what the kingdom of God is like. It is tiny when sown, but once it is in the ground, it sprouts in ways we cannot fathom (as in the previous parable) and becomes a large plant – sounds a little evolutionary to me. He tells the parable in a public way but explains it in private to his disciples.
Crossing the Sea of Galilee that evening, there is a storm that threatens the boat. Jesus was asleep in the stern. They awake him in a panic, and he calms the storm by his word. “They were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?’” (4:41)
The question of who exactly Jesus IS will form a central motif throughout the gospel accounts—it is this question that drives his disciples and ultimately us as well into the OT matrix, and it is only through that matrix, fully mined and integrated that we come to an answer to that question. A prominent motif of Mark’s gospel is the contrast between the huge, pressing crowds that follow Jesus wherever he goes (15 references to them so far) and the need he has to be alone, or anonymous.