Text: Mark 4:26-34
30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 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.”
There is a scene in the 1989 movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where nearing the end of his quest, Indiana, reaches an opening in a cliff but for him to continue on he must take a leap of faith to reach the other side.
As he looks out at what is before him he sees a chasm below that is seriously deep and way too far for him to reach or jump to on the other side. He has followed the directions in a book his father has given him. He faces a dilemma. What to do?
Finally as the scene climaxes and sweat pours off his face, he raises his leg, and stepping out in faith, walks off the face of the cliff. His foot lands on a solid bridge that was invisible to his sight. From his viewpoint there was no way to the other side. What we are shown as he continues across is that the perspective of the cliff face, on the other side, concealed the bridge that was right in front of him. In his leap of faith … perspective is everything.
So too in our lesson for today … Jesus had been sharing with His disciples the truth about the Kingdom of God and using parables to explain their meaning. Jesus talked about seed and the sewing of the seed and how it took root and grew or didn’t depending on the soil where it landed.
And we read in Mark Chapter 4 starting at the 4th verse:
4 Some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty fold and sixty fold and a hundredfold.”
The good soil produces an increase … growing … 30 … 60 and even 100 times the amount of seed that was planted!
The Gospel message, the good seed of the word, proclaimed and by the working of the Holy Spirit … produces fruit in you!
Jesus speaks of the kingdom of God in our text today, as if a man should scatter seed. The image is vivid in our minds … at this time of year as we plant gardens or take vacations seeing the many farms and farmers planting seed in the ground. They all hope and expect a yield come harvest time.
At the time of our Lord’s lesson in the Gospel reading for today, the blessing that we know of running water, at the turn of the tap, and hoses that get the water to the plant was far off in the distant future.
And so the man who had sown seed, sleeps and rises … night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; the earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
29 … But, when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
Jesus continues to speak in our Gospel lesson today about the kingdom of God, using the parable of the mustard seed … a seed so small that when it is sown, into the ground, is tiny … 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 leap of faith that was taken in the fictitious character in the movie Indiana Jones was staged and it was achieved by sleight of hand and movie magic … but the reality of the powerful tool of the Gospel given in word and sacrament to you by faith is still for some … no big deal.
Even here in church the seed of the word is scattered and falls upon different soil. Some falls on the path … being left where it fell for the birds to find, some on the rocky soil and it sprouts quickly in the service but upon leaving church is scorched by the sun and the cares of the day. Other seed falls among the thorns, which can be those of you who really don’t want to be here and grudgingly come, but the word gets choked and yields no grain. But, some seed falls on good soil and with you the seed of the word takes root; it sprouts and grows – very slowly at times. But, with joy you leave here, sharing the word and the love of Christ producing a yield of 30, 60 or even 100 times!
For others … You might come to church reluctantly. You might have opportunities to tell someone outside church about Jesus … and forget to. You might even at times feel like you are … well … small and insignificant.
You might feel that what you say won’t matter, or that what you say won’t have the eloquence of speech of others, or that what you say concerning Christ … won’t work to expand God’s kingdom.
The doubts you feel … many feel. But Jesus tells you in this parable that God will take your imperfect speech, He will take even the slightest and smallest witness … through your failed stuttering and muttering about Christ and His saving work and grow His kingdom 30, 60 and even 100 times. The word which has been sown will not return void!
We read in Isaiah Chapter 55
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11
Just like the tiny mustard seed … which seems at the beginning …so insignificant … God grows to unbelievable dimensions over time so that the riches of Christ reach so far out that even those that don’t want to come to church and those that don’t want to hear the message of salvation will be transformed through the word by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The word of God is power. We’re told in Romans 1, by the apostle Paul:
…For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. (Rom 1:16)
I’d like to tell you a story to illustrate my point:
You see … the story about Christ and His saving work can’t be heard … if no one tells the story. If you think that someone else, better than you, will come along to tell the story later … all that may be heard by your friend, neighbor or relative is silence. The word of God is the power and the seed that is sewn unto salvation for those that need to hear the Gospel, and by this power – God - will transform hearts and grow his kingdom now and for eternity. Sometimes it is a very slow growth but understand God is working and His church is growing.
I’m not sure if you noticed, but we have plenty of room here at church in this service and have been on a downward trend these last 15 years. It’s time to sew the seed of the word and trust that God will use the smallest, slightest and weakest witness about Himself to grow His kingdom.
He will bring the truth about Jesus by the working of the Holy Spirit and plant, in the lives of others, the seed of the word and grow the church to unbelievable yields.
He gives you the power to change lives … by His word, through the working of the Holy Spirit.
There is a poem that poses a question we all need to ask ourselves. It’s called Builders and Wreckers.
As you listen to this poem consider the work of God and the tiny mustard seed and what can be done by the power of the God’s Spirit in the lives of those who build the kingdom through our failed abilities and efforts … by God’s word and Spirit.
Builders and Wreckers (A poem to ponder)
As I watched them tear a building down
A gang of men in a busy town
With a ho-heave-ho, and a lusty yell
They swung a beam and the side wall fell
I asked the foreman, "Are these men skilled,
And the men you'd hire if you’d want to build?"
He gave a laugh and said, "No, indeed,
Just common labor’s all I need."
"I can easily wreck in a day or two,
What builders take many years to do."
And I thought to myself, as I went my way
What about me, which role do I play?
Am I a builder who works with care,
Measuring life by the rule and square?
Am I shaping my work as best I can
And patiently sharing the Master’s plan?
Or, am I a wrecker who walks to town
… Content with only tearing down?
"O Lord let my life and my labors be
God’s work, built up for eternity!"
Friend’s, the power of the gospel will build the kingdom of God. Through the weakest of speech and the slightest of skill, the power of God will use even your smallest of efforts, in proclaiming Christ to a dying world, to do His will and bring His people to faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Those that are bound in this life to sin, death and the devil are set free by the power of the Gospel message and believe. The kingdom of God is found only in Christ and His saving Gospel which is the Good News and the message of salvation for everyone who believes.
Christ takes seed in you and grows His kingdom comforting you with this truth
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit