"Because one who holds fast – to him more will be given: And one who does not, from him will be taken even what he has.” (Mark 4:25)Most sectarian translations actually confuse the meaning of Jesus' statement here. For example, here is the New King James version:
“For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” (Matt. 4:25 NKJV)Other sectarian translations are similar. Such a translation makes little sense. It seems to indicate that one has to have in order to be given more. Where does that leave those that don't "have?" It leaves them out in the cold, according to such a translation.
But this isn't what Jesus is saying at all. He is speaking not of those who "have" but rather, those who hold fast - those who hold tightly onto Jesus' teachings. How do we know that Jesus is speaking of his teachings? Because of his prior statement:
“Understand clearly what you hear – because the measure you use will be used to measure you – and to you who hear, more will be given." (Mark 4:24)"What you hear" is referring to hearing and understanding Jesus' teachings. The Greek word ἀκούω (akouō) not only means "to hear" but also, "to understand, perceive the sense of what is said" according to the lexicon.
So we see that those who really hear Jesus' teachings - not just the act of hearing sound, but rather, understanding his teachings - are eligible to be given more. Let's now examine Jesus' statement above carefully.
The key to understanding Jesus' statement is not just having received Jesus' teachings, but to hold on to those teachings - to hold fast. This is communicated with the Greek word ἔχω (echō), which means "to hold fast," or "to adhere or cling to," and "to be closely joined to a person or a thing."
Jesus is speaking of his students holding onto or adhering to his teachings. Why is this important?
All around us we see forgetfulness. A child might fully comprehend a subject matter in grade school - for example, a topic in geometry - and then later in life completely forget that subject. They have effectively lost and forgotten the subject. They did not hold onto the topic and thus have lost it.
We can know from Jesus' statement that spiritual knowledge can also be gained or lost. In fact, the reason most of us in the physical world don't have spiritual knowledge is because we have lost it in the past. We have not held on to it.
What makes us gain or lose spiritual knowledge?
We make that choice.
Each of us is given the free will to keep or lose spiritual knowledge, just as we are given the free will to keep or lose our relationship with the Supreme Being.
For those of us who have chosen to lose our spiritual knowledge and our relationship with God, the Supreme Being has created a temporary dimension - the physical world. Here we can take on a temporary physical body and pretend to be what we are not. This distracts us and allows us to forget.
So we take on temporary false identities and play those roles for a while. For example, a teenager might play the role of a football player in high school. Within a few years, that role is gone. Then later, that same guy might assume the role of a fireman. But just as the football player role was temporary, the fireman role is temporary. Soon this same guy will retire. All his previous roles will be gone.
Then of course, the body of this person will get old and die. All the roles he played will be wiped out.
Why? Why do we get involved in all these temporary roles in the physical world? So we can forget our relationship with God. The identities of these physical bodies effectively erase our remembrance of God.
This is why movies are so popular. A person can pay a few bucks to go into a dark room and effectively get lost within a movie. The quality of sound and robust imagery in the movie allow us to escape our "real" existence outside the movie for a while. While watching the movie, we can empathize with the movie characters, allowing us to escape. The darkness of the movie room and the brightness of the screen contrast to diminish our "real" life while we get lost in the movie.
The physical world works under the same principle. The imagery of the physical world and the robustness of our body allow us to effectively forget our real existence outside of this physical body.
This physical world covers up our spiritual knowledge, as we mistakenly identify ourselves with the temporary body, and chase the temporary forms and names of the physical world in an attempt to achieve fulfillment.
But for those who want to return to our home and relationship with God, the Supreme Being re-introduces us to His kingdom and Himself through His representative. How do we know that God utilizes His representative for this purpose? Consider Jesus' statement:
“My teaching is not mine, but comes from He who sent me." (John 7:16)Who is the "He" Jesus is referring to? It is the Supreme Being:
“If God were your LORD, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me." (John 8:42)We can thus put together this point with the point Jesus makes above about giving more to those to "hold fast" to his teachings. By holding fast to his teachings, his followers are effectively holding fast to their relationship with God. They are considering their relationship with God to be of critical importance to their lives.
Why God teaches through representatives
The Supreme Being utilizes His representative to teach to us because His representative can introduce God from the perspective of one who loves God. God's representative enjoys a loving relationship with the Supreme Being and thus the perspective from which spiritual knowledge is given comes from a foundation of love.
We might compare this to coming to know a movie star. Say a person is introduced to the movie star by reading the newspaper or watching some movies. Such an introduction and knowledge of the movie star would be muted. It wouldn't be very personal.
But if we were introduced by a family member or best friend of the movie star, the introduction and knowledge of them would be more personal. This is the because the friend or family member knows the movie star intimately.
It is the same with the Supreme Being. God sends His loving servants to the earth to introduce Him for those who desire to come to know the Supreme Being personally: For those who wish to come to love and serve the Supreme Being.
This is, in fact, our innate identity. Everyone wants to love and be loved, and lovingly serve someone who will be their best friend.
Is our dog our best friend?
So many people today own dogs or other pets and consider their pet to be their best friend. Thus they will serve the pet by feeding it, giving it a comfortable bed, taking it for a walk each day, picking up its poop and so on. People become dedicated to their pets. Why? Because we need someone to love and serve and be dedicated to. This is part of our innate identity.
What we don't realize is that the Supreme Being can be loved and served, and He is our real Best Friend. People choose to dedicate their lives to their pets because they have forgotten their real Best Friend. They are looking for someone to love and serve, yet aren't interested in coming to know the loving, personal nature of the Supreme Being.
This is partly due to the sectarian conversations about the Supreme Being - dominated by those who wish to control people and gain power over others. So they use their institutions to make people afraid of God so they can gain followers and control them through fear.
As long as people are afraid of God - and afraid of going to hell - they will come into the churches and temples and give their tithings. They will dutifully follow the institutional leaders, giving these institutional leaders power and authority over others.
This is also why sectarian institutions and their teachers will squelch and misrepresent the teachings of God's representative. They are afraid of losing their power and authority over others.
Consider, for example, Caiaphas, the high priest who ordered the arrest of Jesus and submitted him to Pilate to be tried, and then pushed to have him executed. Why did he do all this?
Because Jesus threatened his authority. Jesus was teaching his students to come to know and love the Supreme Being. He wasn't teaching his students to be afraid of the Supreme Being. And this teaching threatened the control and authority Caiaphus had over those who were following the temple and giving their tithings.
This isn't limited to Caiaphus. We find throughout history that power-hungry people have dominated sectarian institutions. They have not only squelched the teachings of God's representatives over the centuries: They have also mistranslated and misinterpreted scriptural texts in order to support their quest for control.
For example, in the Old Testament, the phrase "fear the Lord" is used many times, as is "love the Lord." How can a person fear someone they love?
The two terms are polar opposites because one of them is mistranslated. Love is to care for someone more than we care for ourselves, while fear is a self-centered emotion, based on my own safety. If I fear someone, I fear them because I am afraid they will hurt me or otherwise cause a problem for me. This fear has a foundation of self-centeredness, whereas love is the opposite.
So why does it say "fear the Lord" in the Old Testament? This is a perfect example of power-hungry sectarian institutions and their leaders wanting to control their followers through mistranslation and misinterpretation of these texts.
The word translated to "fear" in these verses is coming from the Hebrew word יָרֵא (yare'), which can also mean "to revere" "to stand in awe of" "be awed" and "to honor" and "to respect."
These are significantly different emotions than fear. A person can certainly love someone and also revere that person, or be in awe of them, or be astonished by them.
In fact, when combined with love, these emotions portray an altogether different relationship with the Supreme Being - one of loving Him but also feeling that He is simply awesome.
Yes - God is awesome. And we can love Him and serve Him in this attitude because He is also our Best Friend. He is the Perfect Person we are looking for throughout our lives. And He is someone we can give our lives to.
This knowledge and understanding - this introduction to the Supreme Being - is what Jesus is speaking of with respect to holding fast.
If a person receives an introduction to the Supreme Being by God's representative, and they take that into their hearts and act upon it by making an effort to re-establish their loving relationship with the Supreme Being, God continues to open up to that person.
This is natural in all relationships. Just imagine a boy who is introduced to a girl and then makes a sustained effort to please the girl - bringing her flowers and so forth. Soon the girl will open up to the boy and reveal more about herself. Why? Because she sees the boy is sincere, and there is an exchange of a relationship.
It is the same with the Supreme Being. He will respond to our increased sincerity by revealing Himself to us from within.
"And one who has not, from them will be taken even what he has."
You see, being introduced to the Supreme Being is not like being given a toy. It is not as if some are arbitrarily given the toy and others aren't.
Rather, God is introduced to those who sincerely desire to come to know and love the Supreme Being. It is not an arbitrary thing.
The Supreme Being knows us from within. He knows our heart and He knows our desires. And when a person sincerely desires to come to know Him and love Him, He will begin to reveal Himself.
This revealing takes place from within and without simultaneously - and often gradually.
It is not as if suddenly the Supreme Being will just appear in front of us after we ask Him to. He is not our personal genie. He is not our waiter, ready to do whatever we order.
Rather, He controls the process, and according to our level of sincerity and our level of commitment, He will gradually awaken our relationship with Him more and more.
The reason is that the Supreme Being doesn't want a whimsical, convenient relationship. He doesn't want to exchange a relationship based on us asking Him for stuff - as if He's our order-suppler. Rather, He wants a relationship of love and dedication.
Love and dedication go hand in hand, actually. Just imagine if we said we loved someone when they were around, but then when they went on a short trip somewhere we completely forgot about our relationship with them. Would this really be love? No.
So how does a person develop and hold fast onto our relationship with the Supreme Being? It is a process. It is a process of gradually changing our heart and consciousness - a process guided by the Supreme Being - which depends upon us continually holding fast onto Him.
Just as God can reveal Himself to us, He can also hide Himself from us by covering our consciousness through the illusory nature of the temporary forms and names of the physical world.
Thus we have to accept our role: He is God and we are subservient to Him. This means respectfully approaching Him in humility, and asking Him to guide us.
This is what Jesus is defining as "holding fast." It means to hold fast to the Supreme Being. It means to take shelter of Him. It means to rely on Him.
Once we take shelter of God and rely on Him we are given more. When we hold fast to Him through our life, the Supreme Being reveals Himself more and more.
In fact, to the extent we take shelter of God and rely on Him, He reveals Himself. It is a proportional process.
This instruction to hold fast to God was also communicated by Moses:
"Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him." (Deut. 30:19)