Seeding The Kingdom

SUFFERING KING: THE BOOK OF MARK:
Seeding The Kingdom: Mark 4:30-34
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday April 19, 2020

Lets go back, so that we can go forward, lets zoom out on Jesus’ teaching here in Mark 4. He’s leaning into parables here:

1: The Parable of the Sower, Seed is sewn it falls on different ground and different growth happens. The seed here is the Word, each reaction to the shared word is different and results in different growth depending on the different ground it lands on.

2: The Parable of a lamp under a basket, Jesus is the light that came into the world and is to be shared, not hidden or obscured, why – so that what is learned can be shared

3: The Parable of seed growing, Jesus sews the seed, God brings the growth of the Kingdom, finally today – the mustard seed (what is the kingdom). The word and the soil, the light and the truth, and now the Kingdom of God –

Jesus is sharing basic and important truths with his fledgling church, these are the humble beginnings.

We’re in parabolic teaching. Meaning, this is teaching that starts from the familiar, what will my hearers know from daily life, that I can extract truth from.

How can I make this truth, more within reach?

How does the creator and sustainer of all things get us to really hone in on something – parables.

If they were the good soil of parable 1, they’d bear fruit 30, 60, 100 fold fruit. If the put the light of Christ up for all to see – what they heard and how they used it would be magnified, and now they’d learn about the humble beginnings of The Kingdom of God in this parable of the mustard seed – and I wonder what THEY thought when they heard it…

And that’s the question here, what did THEY think, what did THEY hear. If we tackle this passage and ask, God what are you saying to me here – it can be tough because it’s not to you – you have to step into the time of the disciples he was talking to knowing it’s was preserved for us to catch the same truth – but given to them and so that’s how we approach the passage, what were they learning, what was Jesus teaching, and what’s left for us?

I mean, when is the last time you grew some mustard (aside from possibly Scarlett) some of y’all haven’t ever grown anything, so all these seed references are missing you.

So lets jump in and ask the right question, what was he saying to THEM, then we can ask, OK, so what does that mean for me, why God have you preserved it, and what God does this do for me tomorrow, this week, and this year.

Mark 4:30–34 (ESV)
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?

Jesus has an agenda – it’s not hidden it’s fairly plain but people will often only see what they want to. Maybe you know that, maybe you’ve experienced it. Its easy to read the Bible and see the flawed people step back and say, …pffft, stupid people with a hidden agenda… but what about you.

So Jesus starts with a question.

Lemme ask you something – how many questions do you think Jesus has that you can help Him answer? Does Jesus need Harold and Tonya, or John Nicholas, or Jason to answer questions for Him…. No – His questions cause us to think, to lean in, and to explore further but the truth is in Him, not in us. It is ours to discover, but not author.

Jesus asks with what can we compare the Kingdom of God. If the word is the seed, and Jesus is the light/truth, what is the kingdom….

He want’s them to step outside themselves and their purposes. That’d be a struggle for them, and if were honest it is probably a struggle for us too. In fact His followers would as, things like:

Mark 10:35 (ESV)
The Request of James and John
35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”

Acts 1:6 (ESV)
The Ascension
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

So not, “what is the Kingdom of God according to me” but how can you know what the Kingdom of God is?

They’re, perhaps, thinking selfishly. Jesus walks them through, growth coming from the word, truth coming from Him, and God bringing growth in people – now He shows them what all that individual growth makes, the kingdom of God – His Kingdom, God’s kingdom – not theirs to serve their purposes, but his to serve His purposes. We’re seeing the humble beginnings of The Kingdom of God

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.”

OK I just want to quick point something out – Imagine with me for a moment you’re a successful mustard farmer. You know like da man when it comes to mustard. Like you walk in a room and the folks over at French’s even take notice, and you KNOW they know some mustard.

And someone said, hey so… how’s the mustard crop this year, you say man my plants have gotten so big (aren’t they supposed to be a bush), that even the birds sit in there? And you walk away – the folks at French’s may think you’re crazy – nothing about the mustard yield, you’re talking about branches and birds?

Go back to the beginning..

“With what can we compare the kingdom of God” – what if we compared it to a plant with one purpose, that grew into another purpose, and grew large and into a wholly selfless and unfulfilling purpose?

Then Mark, who’s lovingly and painstakingly captured the explanation on everything says…. I’m out.

33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it.

34 He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

And now you know the parable like they did.

Jesus leaving you to think about the humble beginnings of The Kingdom of God.

This one draws my mind to another odd plant based story. The fig tree. Maybe you’re familiar maybe not, so I’ll give you the summary – Mark 11:12-13 Jesus comes from Bethany and being hungry sees a leafy fig tree (bingo Jesus thinks, fig newtons) He comes up and nothing is on it so he says, may no one ever eat fruit from you again. The text gives a small clue saying “it was not the season for figs”. Now Jesus being the creator and sustainer I think knew that.

Mark 11:12-13 (ESV)

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry.

13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.

Next he cleanses the temple (Mark 11:15-19) a temple full of people with a false religion being practiced for selfish gain, crooked people leveraging God, faith, and religion for gain; then verses 20-25 they say, wait Jesus slow up there, what just happened. Jesus answers (without answering) and says: guys have faith.

Mark 11:15-25 (ESV)

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.

16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.

17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”

18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city.

The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree

20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots.

21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”

22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.

23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.

24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

We can try to look fruitful and bushy, but have no depth and no purpose, Jesus wanted them to learn to rely on God for their growth and their purpose, there is a LOT more going on in that story and we’ll get in to that some time in December – but Jesus purposes are much more kingdom aligned than ours – how can we realign to Jesus? The parable leaves us with questions, and questions make us rely on God.

SO what were they learning, what was Jesus teaching, and what’s left for us?

It’s not about the big things you can do, it’s about the big things God IS doing! What’s your part? Grow (like the seed, without your ability to control it) how, because Jesus sewed the seed on good soil, why to share Jesus’ truth, to build His kingdom for His purposes. He is always preparing His disciples, for a purpose outside themselves …

1. What does that mean for me,

For what purpose is God growing you? What if it is JUST to live faithfully in your community and circle of friends. Trusting Him to grow you, desiring to know God more, and living faithfully? Are you OK with the humble beginnings of The Kingdom of God?

2. Why have you preserved it,

So that we too would take a selfless view of the kingdom, trust with the faith of a mustard seed which frankly lays on the ground without much expectation for its self – and I’d add perhaps not much expectation from anyone else either…. Are you OK with the humble beginnings of The Kingdom of God

3. and what does this do for me tomorrow, this week, and this year,.

I hope it encourages you to be a) selfless b) excited to participate in the Kingdom of God, and 3) expectant to be used by God in His Kingdom. Are you OK with the humble beginnings of The Kingdom of God?

That is the Christian life – Jesus asks stroking His beard…. Lets see with what shall we compare the kingdom of God, scanning the landscape perhaps finds the wild mustard bush maybe with a bird sitting on it’s branch……. That TREE Over there, from the smallest seed, and now provides a home for the birds, that’s the kingdom of God, growing, trusting, serving – that’s you church.

Perhaps there is supposed to be some mystery here, Jesus has been working to explain the role of the word, His own role as messiah, and now how the kingdom functions. Often after a parable, Jesus says, ok ok ok, I’ll tell you, it’s this… here. Not so much, so what is the Kingdom, have faith without all the information and experience it.

So off we go, I hope expectantly, into our week to see what Kingdom works God will do through us – a mustard tree – providing home to birds – go Christian and confound the world. 1 Corinthians 1:27 we’re seeing the humble beginnings of the Kingdom of God in Jesus ministry – we get to see the outcome. So, would we not trust the process that built Jesus’ kingdom? Trust God faithfully with the sprouting, with the growth, AND with purpose.

We can sometimes define in our heads what our purpose is, and when we don’t reach it be discouraged – what if you were wrong all along? Trust with faith, that God will align you to your purpose, this IS the Kingdom of God.

“We all want a sense of Meaning. But, boy, is it hard work creating one. By contrast, the loving Creator God says to us, Stop trying to create meaning.  I’ve given you a glorious one.” – Matt Fuller

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