KINGDOM OF GOD: Short talk version
Reading: Mark 4: 26-34
The Parable of the Growing Seed
He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”
With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
WHAT DO YOU IMAGINE THE KINGDOM OF GOD/HEAVEN (on earth) IS LIKE?
- Perhaps you see it in the creative power of God…the Maker of Heaven and Earth…the One who sustains all things… the One who can flood the earth at a word…who can cause time to stand still …the One who can cause the dead to rise
- Perhaps you see it in God’s authority …the word that is spoken that can tear down strongholds, reduce nations to dust, cause people to flee into caves and cry out for the mountains to fall on them
- Perhaps you see it in terms of spiritual warfare between good and evil forces… weapons clashing, noise echoing, thunder and lightning, cries of victory and tormented wailing…
BUT JESUS SPEAKS RATHER DIFFERENTLY
- He introduced this apparently crazy idea that the Kingdom was not like a conquering king or a powerful body or a huge army…but like a seed!
- Seeds have to be buried and die before they can grow
…Burial that speaks of the end of self
…Death that fully identifies us with Christ… and his resurrection
- All life begins as a seed of some sort
- Here are some seeds (some large; some too small to see)
(Take conker, acorn and seed head of poppy/grass seed)
- You know the parable about the seeds
- The seed is God’s word
- The ground is what you and I do with it!
A Christian went back to visit the cabin in which he had lived as a child 35 years before. It was in a very rural area and the cabin was in poor condition. As he gazed around, he suddenly remembered something he had done as a child.
He had once collected walnut seeds and taken them home. Some of them he had eventually buried near a small stream a little way from the house. Others, he had put in a dark corner of the attic to use on another occasion.
He wondered what had happened to the seeds, so he carefully went into the loft and, after a few moments searching, came across the small box that was still on top of the beam where he had left them all those years before. The seeds were little more than dust.
Sadly, he wandered down towards the stream where he had played as a boy…and was amazed and delighted to find that, where once there had been a barren space, there were now at least a dozen strong walnut trees swaying tall and strong in the breeze.
SO A SEED MUST BE PLANTED, DIE AND BE RESURRECTED. Water from the stream had fed the plants, which were now producing their own fruit.
But there are other seeds…
As Jesus warns us in Matthew 13:38-40…
“The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age…”
Weeds also produce seeds
- I saw some little weeds growing in the hedgerow… so sweet!
- But a few weeks later, I went back and… they were GIANTS!
- We have to make sure that we only accept the GOOD seed of God’s Word
- Beware of saying “Just this once”
There’s another danger… of receiving the good seed… of growing well and blooming… but then becoming detached from the roots
- Unless we stay rooted in God’s word, we become like cut flowers… blooming for a time but slowly fading and shrivelling
Jesus says to us: “Abide with/in me”
- Unfortunately, the NIV has replaced “abide” with “remains”
And there is only one sure way of abiding in Him… as we read in John 6: 55-57
For My flesh is food indeed (or “true food and true drink”) and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. (New King James Version)
And Jesus had something equally profound to say in John 12: 23-25
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life (or “lets it go” or “gives it up”) in this world will keep it for eternal life
Jesus himself sets the example of dying to self, so that in his resurrection he might produce ‘much fruit’ for eternal life… you and me and all those who are willing to “die to self in this world”