Posted on Sun, Jun 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
3rd Sunday after Pentecost
Gospel Text: Mark 4:26-34
The Parable of the Growing Seed
26 He also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
30 He also said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’
The Use of Parables
33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
Anthony de Mello, in his wonderful little book, “One Minute Wisdom” wrote ‘On Healing:’
To a distressed person who came to the Master for help, the Master said, “Do you really want a cure?”
“If I did not, would I bother to come to you?”
“Oh yes. Most people do.”
“Not for a cure. That’s Painful. They come for relief.”
To the disciples of the Master, the Master said, “People who want a cure, provided they can have it without pain, are like those who favor progress, provided they can have it without change.”
The opening line of Mark’s gospel announces its theme about as directly as it gets: it’s about the “good news of Jesus Christ the Son of God.”
But when the narrative turns to introducing this Jesus and his ministry, we discover that the story and its implications are not so simple. The first words out of Jesus’ mouth proclaim that the good news about God is that God’s kingdom has now drawn near and he calls for his hearers to “turn their lives around” and “live lives of trusting in the good news” (repent and believe, Mark 1:14-15). This is the core teaching of Mark, he is trying to tell the world that the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, the Savior of the Gentiles has truly come into the world, but you won’t see him, hear him, or even believe in him until we repent and turn our lives back to God.
According to Mark, Jesus is just telling us a fact that the “Kingdom of God” is here now, it is a statement of fact. The problem is that Jesus is telling us a truth that is beyond our comprehension. The Kingdom of God is not a place for us to ‘go to,’ a beautiful destination like the Aulani Hotel. Jesus IS the Kingdom of God, and he is telling the people that in just being in Jesus’ presence, they are looking upon the Kingdom of God, because they are looking at Jesus.
If we, or even Jesus, wants to teach us about the Kingdom of God, the Essence of God, the Purpose of God, that would mean teaching a concept that is “unteachable” or “inconceivable” to human minds. Teaching something so awesome, the human mind, with our limited languages and imagination, is something beyond human beings can ‘understand,’ but it is something we CAN believe… through the Holy Spirit, through faith…
What is happening in the scene is that, just by Jesus standing amongst the people, they are in the presence of blessing no human being can comprehend. If anyone could “explain” God, or the “Way to God, then there would be no need for faith. If we could describe the formula to know God and be with God for all time, what would be the purpose of Jesus’ suffering and dying on the cross? Because the grace, mercy and love of God is so far beyond our comprehension, Jesus had to be obedient to the promise of God, and go to the cross for our sake.
We like to say that God lives in us, and that is nice and true, but God is much bigger than any god that can reside in our fragile and oftentimes broken bodies. Mark is telling us that our God is, as the song says, is an awe-some God. Awe-some to the point that we can only see the results (faith, hope, love…self-control), of being in the presence and believing in Jesus as opposed to comprehending the shear awesomeness of God.
He uses parables, not explanations. Why? Again, there is no magic formula to ‘getting to God,’ the only “formula,” according to Mark, is that we are to repent, turn your life back to God and believe. From there, we begin to not only see the Kingdom of God, but we begin to live in the Kingdom of God right now.
A parable is sometimes, rather blandly defined in a dictionary as: “A ‘simple’ story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels.”
Stupid and shallow dictionary definition! “A ‘simple’ story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels???” Are they implying a parable of Jesus is a “SIMPLE?” Obviously the writer has no concept of theological mystery or the immensity of God!!!
Faith and the message of Jesus is much more exciting and mysterious than just being used to “illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels!”
A parable is a teaching of Jesus that is used to point us to the very Essence of God’s unconditional grace, hope, mercy and love. The parable is the only means Jesus has in order to teach our feeble hearts and minds about the Love of God. Why? In order to Forgive us, to Re-Create us, Re-New us, Re-Build us, Restore our hope and joy, and lead us in lives that reflect the grace and blessing of God as the Body of Christ.
Just like a seed being planted and watching it grow and bear fruit, the people listening to Jesus don’t really understand how this happens, they just could see that it did happen and the people will be fed, generation after generation after generation.
Jesus says, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’
A parable is unique because every time we may hear the same parable, we may hear it in a new way with a new meaning. What do you hear in Jesus parable?
You can take Jesus’ wonderful parable of the mustard seed and preach on all of these topics and so much more!
I like how Paul tells us the wonderful gift of a new way of seeing the world has changed with we know that the Kingdom of God is now all around us:
2 Corinthians 5:14-17
14 For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. 15 And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
We don’t know how this little seed of faith works, but we sure can feel it when we sing and pray, we can see it when we comfort, feed, serve and teach each other, we can know that we are made new again when we simply repent and hear we are forgiven.
Lastly, did you notice that Jesus did NOT say, “The Kingdom of God is like Oatmeal!” Jesus specifically chose a “mustard seed?” Tell me, if I gave you a table spook of mustard to eat straight, with nothing to drink, what would you taste? Would it be bland like oatmeal? One thing it would make you do is jump, turn read, sweat a little, make you scream and get you moving in every which way. Getting in touch with faith, and knowing that we live in the Kingdom of God is much the same. A faith-life, is not a bland boring life! Believe me! And one of the most important aspects of Jesus’ parable is that through the faith and love Jesus has given to us today and everyday, we have the privilege of planting those very same seeds of faith, hope and love Jesus was talking about. How cool is that? We many not be capable to explain the awesomeness of God, but we can sure receive it, be blown away the message and fired up to share it! Never look at a hotdog with mustard in the same way again!
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