April 26, 2015
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
Parables of the Growing Seed and the Mustard Seed give us insights into the Kingdom of God (Mark 4:26-34). “This is what the kingdom of God is like.”(Mark 4:26) Jesus is following up his warning earlier from Mark 4:21-25, to be certain to keep our hearts softened toward God, with encouragement in these two stories about seeds.
As Christians, we need just such encouragement as we sometimes feel alone and discouraged that our faith is small, powerless, inconsequential.
Observations about God’s Kingdom:
1. God’s Kingdom grows to remarkable proportions.
Earlier in the Old Testament, in a parable about a cedar tree, God had been trying to teach Israel that His kingdom would be so huge that all the Gentiles would benefit from it (Ezekiel 17). Now in Mark 4:26-34, Jesus taught through the seed parables that God’s Kingdom would grow to remarkable proportion from the original seed.
Indeed, Christianity is now the largest religion on this planet, and by 2025, the Bible will be translated into all the world’s languages. Christianity continues to expand, and even though other religions may rise against us, Christians know that victory is inevitable. The war is already won by Jesus’ death and resurrection over death and sin. Prophecies will be fulfilled; the Prince of Peace will reign. Even injustice and death will give way to God’s Kingdom.
2. God’s Kingdom grows without our effort or understanding.
“Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.”(Mark 4:27).
As Christians, we have to scatter seed (with our words) for the Kingdom to grow, but once scattered, the seed grows without effort or understanding. The Kingdom of God is like this: strokes of the Gospel message moving from nation to nation, spreading often even by conflict or persecution. We serve a big God who uses strange circumstances (often unasked for, unconventional means) and ordinary people to spread the Gospel. God in His Mercy wants others to know the Good News, His Truth.
Some of us find ourselves in confusing circumstances of life, e.g.. in our jobs, our schools, our families, our relationships. In all areas of life, take Jesus with you; scatter seed by bearing witness to the Gospel; and let God grow His Kingdom.
3. God’s Kingdom grows despite its small beginnings.
The main point of the Mustard Seed Parable (Mark 4:30-32) is the smallness at the beginning of the seed, not the hugeness of the plant at the end.
From the tiny area of Israel/Judea, Christianity would spread throughout the world. From only twelve ordinary disciples with small faith, Christianity would be carried to the world. Contrary to our normal thinking, God intentionally starts with the unimpressive, the foolish, the weak, the powerless, even the despised. God does not see things the way we do; He sees the seed that will grow.
Our individual faith might often seem small and inconsequential, but God can use it to move mountains and even flood the whole earth with His glory. Christ followers: take heart, be encouraged. His Kingdom will grow from small, bungling disciples, like you or me, to take Christ’s Gospel wherever we go.
Prayer: Father, may we be a transforming church, taking the love, truth, mercy, and power of Jesus wherever we go.