Summary: Jesus uses a living illustration to tell us about being productive in the Kingdom.
Over 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to find the source of the Missouri River, and from there to discover a relatively easy water route west to the Pacific. Such a waterway, they discovered, doesn't exist. But they did succeed in mapping the Northwest and, 15 months after they began pushing themselves upstream, they found, near today's Montana-Idaho border, the source of the mighty Missouri.
Lewis's journal records that on August 12, 1805, a member of the expedition, Private Hugh McNeal, "exultingly stood with a foot on each side of this little rivulet and thanked his God that he had lived to bestride the mighty and heretofore deemed endless Missouri."
The Missouri at its source looks a lot different than the powerful current that flows into the Mississippi River near St. Louis!
And in the Kingdom, too, many great things start out small.
Mar 4:30 And he said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?
• Notice Jesus’ cautious and loving interaction with his audience.
• He poses the question, “what can we compare?”
• Such wording included the listener into the puzzle of the teacher.
• The teacher partners with the students and says, let’s do this together.
• “What parable can we all agree to use?”
• A teacher involves the students in the learning and decision making process.
• This is hard for some of us to do. Others, it is natural.
• Once the student is sitting on the front of the chair, listening with bated breath,
• The lesson is presented.
Mar 4:31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."
• The mustard seed was the smallest of the domestic seeds used in the area.
• It grew rapidly into a tree.
• Despite being an annual tree, it grew very large in one season.
• The tree can grow to 12-15 feet in a year.
• It was popular with the birds because of the mustard seeds and the shade.
• It went from the smallest seed to the largest garden plant or tree.
• The tree was a marvel to the farmers and observers of that day.
• Thus, it’s comparison to the kingdom of God.
• When the bible refers to the Kingdom of God, it is typically not speaking about Church.
• The Kingdom of God is far larger than the Church.
• But the beginning of the reign of Christ is common with the Church.
• That is the discussion here.
• Out of nowhere, it seemed, a single man began to walk the land around Jerusalem and Canaan.
• He began to teach and heal. His popularity grew, but only temporarily.
• He selected 12 men to help Him start a work.
• It was truly a humble beginning.
• That beginning was not managed like we would have managed it.
• Often, when Jesus could have been raising crowds or funds, he chose to associate with the few.
• Zacchaeus, a tax collector named Matthew; a woman at the well, or running everyone out of the temple except one caught in adultery and speaking with her…
• Jesus never worried about humble beginnings.
• He was born in a manger, not a castle.
• He lived as a laborer, not a prince.
• He spoke the truth of His own authority, not quoting notable authors.
• He focused on the individual, not the crowd.
• Yet, someday, He will assume reign over all, physically.
• The Jewish people had a passion for a king.
• In the early days, they wanted a king to be like other nations.
• They wanted someone to fight their battles, manage their economy, administer their justice.
• 1Sa 8:7 And the LORD said to Samuel, "Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.
• 1Sa 8:10-20 So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, "These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day." 19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, "No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles."