Scripture: Mark 4:24-30
A BIG Bush From a TINY Seed
About ten years ago, the youth director of a church told this riddle. Then he went out of town on a camping trip for a week and told no one the answer to the riddle. He told the pastor “oh yeah, only 17% of Stanford graduates figured out this riddles, but 80% of kindergartners knew the answer.” And then he left. The pastor wanted to strangle him!
But here is the riddle: “What is stronger than God, more evil than the devil, poor people have it, rich people don’t need it,and if you eat it you’ll die?”
The answer is: “Nothing.” The pastor said: “I knew I should have gone to Stanford!” (1)
Literally, the word parable means “a riddle.” They are stories that leave the listener with the responsibility of figuring out just what they mean. Jesus told more than 40 parables during his ministry, and he only explained one of them to his disciples.
No wonder the disciples always seemed confused. They had a lot of figuring out to do. Jesus took the answers with him when he ascended into heaven. Now some 2000 years later, here we are still pondering what Jesus must have meant when he told stories like The Good Samaritan, or the Dishonest Steward, or the following parable.
What is 10-12 ft high, home to birds and other creatures, yet grows from a tiny seed? Something we put on hamburgers and hot dogs comes from this seed. Everyone that has grown up in the church has at one time or another heard the story of the tiny seed that grew into a BIG bush.
Yes it is the famous mustard seed. Most of us who are of a certain age can remember a grandmother, mother, or aunt who had a necklace, bracelet or pin that had a glass bubble on it and inside the glass bubble was a mustard seed. The parable of the mustard seed in the Gospel according to Mark. That’s the riddle but what does it mean.
Jesus never defines the “kingdom” of God but instead describes it. It seems to me that Jesus is using the comparison of size and potential to describe what the kin-dom of God is like. What starts out tiny can become huge, what starts out weak can become strong, what starts out unimportant can become very important.(2)
Of course not every small thing grows into something much larger but the potential is there for that to happen. We cannot cast aside anyone or anything because of their size. No person is so weak that they cannot become strong. No act is so unimportant that it can’t be life-saving. We may never know the outcome of the seeds we have planted. We just plant the seeds and God takes over from there. It is the mystery of God that is at work.
Now we don’t identify closely with a mustard seed. So what ordinary small thing that we could identify with be used a a substitute for the mustard seed.
What about a grain of sand. It can be so small you may not even see it. But boy you know its presence if it gets in your eye.
Or the reign of God is like a small pebble. A pebble doesn’t seem significant. It certainly can make its presence felt if it gets in your shoe. It can stop the strongest man in his tracks.
We all know about wasps perhaps they could help enlighten us as to what the kin-dom of God is like. It is a small insect that can be crushed with a fist, therefore you wouldn’t think of it as being strong. But just let one into a crowed room and see how disruptive it can become.
I’m sure you could come up with some examples of your own that would probably be even better. That’s because the kin-dom of God is extraordinarily ordinary.
Let’s look at three essential elements of a mustard seed faith.
One: small actions can lead to major accomplishments.
Through out the Bible we hear of God using ordinary people to do extraordinary things. God is creating opportunities for good right now, right here.
If we overlook the smaller good works we can do, the little kindnesses or encouragements or hope we can offer, if we overlook the little ways we can shine God’s light in the world, then we will not be ready for the bigger opportunities God puts before us.
God doesn’t use earthquakes, tornadoes, or hurricanes to get our attention for some piece of work God wants done. No God plants a tiny seed and then waits.
Let me ask you. Do you think God is waiting for us? God has placed the power of his kin-dom inside each of us. God has placed the vision of the kin-dom inside of us. Now God is waiting for us to do our part in establishing God’s kin-dom on this earth. Focus on the little things, little circumstances, little opportunities where we can share God’s compassion, love, and faithfulness each day. A mustard seed faith, first of all claims that major accomplishments grow out of small actions.
Two: mustard seed faith rejoices in the importance of attitude to accomplishment.
Where there is faith in God there is peace, joy, and hope. Faith is a positive force. Faith is an active force.
We must trust in God. Trust that the work God has given us to do is the right one, even if we can’t see the progress Carrying out our assignments faithfully will bring results. We need to know that everyone is on the same page and working toward a common goal God has set before us. It might mean forsaking our natural instincts no matter how things look and trust that God is in charge. That’s living by faith!
Trusting God is key to a positive attitude that is effective. God’s plan is to establish Heaven on Earth, God’s kin-dom of holiness, love, peace and justice. It is our mission to do our part as partners with God.
Three: God’s presence and power determines our success.
A very important feature of a mustard seed faith is the fact that we are not alone. Our abilities are not capable of establishing God’s kin-dom on earth. It is God’s power working through our obedience that establishes the kin-dom of God on earth.
When God calls us to do do something God also supplies the way to achieve it.
Once we “see that this is God’s world, that God is working through ordinary people and ordinary circumstances, that God’s love is greater than any kingdom or political system or threat the world could hold, it becomes hard to see anything else. God is at work everywhere around us. God’s plan will succeed. But mustard seed faith results in action.” So is God waiting for us to take the next step?(3)
- Little Start, Big Finish Dean Feldmeyer https//sermons.com/sermons/print-content/2237067?print