Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? 14 The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others. 15 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. 16 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 17 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 18 The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, 19 but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. 20 And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

21 Then Jesus asked them, “Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine. 22 For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. 23 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

24 Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. 25 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” – Mark 4:13-25

Train Crane | Galveston Railroad Museum | August 2020

When I was in 6th grade I discovered a note on my desk. I don’t recall everything it said, but I do recall the last word: “ZATTD!” I don’t remember the rest of the note for it was gibberish as far as I could tell. Letters that went together to form non-words, lines of non-words with punctuation. As though someone had simply tried to confuse me. It actually made me mad.

Until a friend asked me if I had gotten his note. “Your note?! That was crazy. I threw it away.”

“You what! Where!”

I showed him the crumpled note in the classroom trash can. He got it out and told me, “It’s a code. ZATTD means HURRY! Z stands for H, A stands for U, T stands for R, and D stands for Y. ZATTED! HURRY!”

My friends were too kind, letting me in on the secret. I was supposed to figure it out myself and break the code. Look for single-letter words, see if that could fill in bits and pieces of the puzzle. Once I got it, though, I could figure out the note.

It was an invitation to be part of a secret club they had formed. The three of us, plus one or two more, would make up codes and write messages to each other. That way, if the note was intercepted by our teacher she wouldn’t be able to decipher it. It was such fun.

Jesus does not write things in code. Nor does God send secret invitations to join his club. In fact, the message of Jesus is clear and open: Repent and believe the good news: the rule and reign of God is at hand in Jesus. God is saving his people. God is calling people to himself. Jesus is the fulfillment of all of Scripture’s promises and prophecies. Look to him. Believe in him. He is the key. 

Once you have Jesus, you have the key to all of the New Testament’s teachings. Once you have Jesus, you can unlock the mysteries of God. Once you have Jesus you have forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. 

Martin Luther is to have said, “When you come to a place in the Bible you don’t understand, praise God and continue on.” That’s because Luther had Jesus, and with him is peace, joy, and life. So if you reach a point in your reading or faith walk that you don’t understand, “ZATTD” (hurry) on to the next thing. Hurry on to the next adventure of life in God’s kingdom. No decoding required.

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