Summary: "There is nothing that we do that God could not accomplish Himself." (Unseen Realm-Michael Heiser) But we are to sow the seeds of the Gospel, tell the story of Jesus.. it is a partnership with the Holy Spirit.
In Jesus Holy Name June 21, 2021
Text: Mark 4:31 Pentecost III Redeemer
“A Story About Seeds”
We have a garden. Many of you probably have gardens as well. Some of you may even start your plants in a hot house. But most of us buy our garden plants and vegetables in small pots ready to be planted. Have you noticed how small a tomato seed is? It takes a long time to spout. I have been trying to plant . Zin-ni-as. This is my third planting. They are very small seeds, yet when they sprout the flowers are beautiful.
When Jesus began His ministry, He announced, “The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.” "The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15). What is the "kingdom of God"? I always have to stop and think about that phrase. My immediate thought is a geographical territory with borders. Professor James Voelz of Concordia Seminary says that the "reign of God ….. is the rule of God, which is not geographical.
John Ruemann in his Book “Jesus in the Church’s Gospels” writes: The words of Jesus, “The kingdom of God”, “ does not mean a geographical kingdom like Great Britain. It is not a territorial or political organization set up for the purpose of government. It has no capital city, no parliament building, no royal trappings. The “Kingdom of God” is God’s rule on the earth” through Jesus and through the on going ministry of the “church” as we partner with God through the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. (p.142-152)
For generations the Christian church has sung the liturgical Te Deum, “Jesus has opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers”. Each Sunday we ask, “may Your kingdom come”, every time we speak the Lord’s Prayer.
Jesus told memorable stories about extravagant wedding banquets, and lost sheep, and tiny seeds that earn a thousand-percent return on investment. He did not write a book but His stories have been speaking to people for generations. His stories are normally called "parables." A parable is a story that aims to say something true about life or about God.
“The kingdom of God” is like a grain of mustard seed, which when it's sewn on the ground is the smallest of all the seeds on the ground. Yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants. And it sends out great branches so that the birds of the air can find shelter in its shade."
When a teacher tells a story, it's common for the student to ask, "What's the point?" Because that's what teachers do. They tell stories to make a point, an illustration of some topic or theme or lesson. But with the New Testament parables, it's Jesus Himself. He's the point.
He is the lamp on the stand that gives light to the house. He's the farmer out in the field. He is the Word, “the seed” that is sewn into the ground to die so that He can rise and send out His branches, so that we might find shelter in His shade.
The parable of the mustard seed is the first in a list of seven stories Jesus told in Mark 4. The Jewish leaders had accused Christ of working miracles by the power of the devil (Mark 3). The die was now cast; the religious leaders had made their choice. They will do whatever it takes to cancel Jesus.
Jesus is an unknown Rabbi in a small piece of land far from the center of Roman power. He has 12 followers. Some are fishermen, others are women who have been healed of various illnesses. When He was dying on a cross, people laughed and made sport. On that day one might have asked this question: Will the message of Jesus about God’s salvation, God’s offer of forgiveness and eternal life ever take root? Will His words die with His death on the cross?
In response Jesus tells this parable of the mustard seed. The seed is the word of God and the ministry of Jesus. It may seem small. It may seem insignificant. But it is God who will give the growth. (see the story in Acts 5:29-41 the words of Gamaliel) You and I possess the promises of Jesus. We are like the farmer. “ every farmer knows, not all the seeds you plant end up yielding crops or beautiful flowers. I am on my 3rd planning of Zinnia seeds, some have sprouted.
Our responsibility is to imitate Jesus. We are to be salt and light in a culture that wants to reject the ten commandments… but we are to keep them so that people will see the difference. We are to tell the story of God’s offer of eternal life. That’s it…as we tell the story of Jesus, as we offer love, care or servanthood, as we sow the seeds of the gospel….. like my zinnia seed, some will take root and grow and produce beautiful flowers… God created the seed. He gives growth. Gods’ kingdom works like the mustard seed. It begins small. Some people will scorn the message. Others will be receptive. God’s kingdom will grow and give shade to the sick, the poor, the imprisoned, the unloved.