Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.” Jesus used many similar stories and illustrations to teach the people as much as they could understand. In fact, in his public ministry he never taught without using parables; but afterward, when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them. Mark 4:30-34(NLT)
Even the universe was tiny at one time. The big bang theory suggests[ii] that part of the universe we know, with all the planets, stars and other heavenly bodies, was merely the size of an atom before God said to it: Get a move-on! Then the explosion began and, scientists tell us, the cosmos has been expanding ever since at the rate of about 41 miles per second. So the universe gets bigger by the length of about 700 football fields laid end to end every time you draw a breath.
Scientific string theory was not yet common knowledge when Jesus taught his disciples about the Kingdom; I’m glad…I think I can understand a mustard seed growing into a shade tree with bird’s nests…I think!
If you noticed the (almost) throwaway line at the end of Mark’s text, you see that Jesus explained everything to the disciples at the end of the day when they were alone. I’m glad the disciples were like me, with Jesus having to draw pictures so they’d understand. To tell you the truth, my mind hurts when I go deeper into theories and systems. Elizabeth and I watched a mini-series on the life of Albert Einstein this spring; even that TV show badgered my sensibilities with the complicated dialogue of physicists throwing technical terms and concepts back and forth at each other like intelligence missiles.
So…keeping it simple (like Jesus did)…the mustard seed is also very small. It also grows really fast, and really big – big enough for a bird to build a nest.
If the Kingdom of God is like that, we can begin to understand why, from a small gathering of Jesus-followers in an upper room there blossomed a church of 3,000+ on the Day of Pentecost, and it spread all over the East and West, until the Gospel is now being preached in every corner of the world.
That’s the promise of the parable.
If the soil receives a mustard seed, it will turn into a tree; a really big tree.
If a human being embraces the Kingdom of God within the soil of his own life, think what growth can take place like an atom exploding to become a universe!