Third Sunday After Pentecost
Sermon starts at 18:15 in the recording
Gospel: Mark 4:26-34
26 He also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’
30 He also said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32yet 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.’
33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
Afterthoughts: Planting the Seeds
Sunday’s sermon was based on Jesus’ parables in the Gospel reading from Mark.
Seeds were the focus for this week and there were two main points:
· The way seeds grow is beyond our understanding.
This point becomes clear as Jesus starts the parable:
“The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself.”
As I said on Sunday,
I am always amazed at the transformation that happens from seed to plant. Having a garden at home,
it is always mesmerizing to see growth.
In each seed planted, God has programmed them to grow,
that is, the seeds are keyed into the seasons, moisture, etc.
It is a true work of art.
The word in the Greek used here for how the seed grows is autome.
The seed grows automatically.
Again, based on God’s programming.
This parable speaks to the beauty of God’s plans for each of us
as He plants the seed within us to do great things for God’s Kingdom.
· A simple seed can grow into something quite profound.
Here, Jesus uses the mustard seed as an example.
It is a VERY small seed
(someone was nice enough to show me one this week).
From this tiny, seemingly insignificant seed comes great things.
In speaking of this, Jesus says,
“…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.”
Again, teeny, tiny seed.
Our lives can seem very insignificant.
Much like the mustard seed,
we can get lost in the vastness of this world we live in.
Through this parable, Jesus reminds us that God can do significant things through the small things in life.
I told students for years that God loves the losers.
God has this great habit of taking
the seemingly insignificant
to do big things.
And 12 misfits made apostles.
So we are encouraged to know that,
not only has God created us for good works,
but that he intends to use us for these good works we were created for.
It reminds me of the passage from Philippians chapter 2, verse 12-13,
“Therefore, … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
This is us.
If we are willing to have faith in God.
This sentiment is echoed in the 1st reading from Ezekiel this week:
Thus says the Lord God:
I myself will take a sprig
from the lofty top of a cedar;
I will set it out.
I will break off a tender one
from the topmost of its young twigs;
I myself will plant it
on a high and lofty mountain.
On the mountain height of Israel
I will plant it,
in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit,
and become a noble cedar.
Under it every kind of bird will live;
in the shade of its branches will nest
winged creatures of every kind.
All the trees of the field shall know
that I am the Lord.
I bring low the high tree,
I make high the low tree;
I dry up the green tree
and make the dry tree flourish.
I the Lord have spoken;
I will accomplish it.
In this prophecy, Ezekiel is talking about God’s plans to prosper Israel and make it a sanctuary for its neighbors.
In this imagery, God takes the top of a cedar and then the smallest of twig from that top to plant this nation and make it into a significant people.
To take a small and insignificant people,
And make them a force for change in that region.
Which makes me think about God’s Church.
And, more specifically, us.
What is it that God is doing in the midst of us?
I know we have great music.
I know we serve guests weekly that are in need.
I know we have good community together.
I know we have dedicated volunteers that serve tirelessly.
But what does God have for us now?
Caring for our community.
What will it look like?
Can we dream of it together?
Will we dare to ask big things of God for His people?
I hope so.
For your sake.