Friday, June 12, 2015

Proper 6

Proper 6
14 June 2015
Mark 4:26-34
“The Kingdom of the Mustard Seed”

Jesus tells us, “The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed” (v 31). That doesn’t seem to make sense. A mustard seed? An insignificant, unimpressive seed, quite obviously incapable of doing anything great.

But that’s what Jesus teaches. The Kingdom of God, like a Mustard Seed, Merely Appears Insignificant, Unimpressive, Incapable of Doing Anything Great.

The Kingdom, Jesus Himself, did appear insignificant. Jesus often appeared insignificant, unimpressive, incapable of doing anything great. Shortly after Pentecost, the apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest… Luke records what took place… But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while.  Then he addressed the Sanhedrin:

“Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 

 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if, their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:33-39)  

All outward signs rejected Jesus rejected by the leadership. Even His own family considered him senseless. When He was arrested, His followers deserted and scattered.

This Kingdom included the least desirable people, sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors. You might as well just invite anyone into it—and He did. Some Kingdom. Insignificant, unimpressive, and by all appearances, it seemed incapable of doing anything great.

The Kingdom among us today – Jesus in Word and Sacrament still appears unimpressive. The Kingdom merely appears insignificant, unimpressive, and incapable of doing anything great. Jesus said that while the mustard seed is the smallest of the seeds, when it’s planted it grows and becomes the largest plant in the garden. (Perhaps as high as ten feet.) With such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade. Though human wisdom and logic can never believe it, the eyes of faith behold it.

And, yes, sins are forgiven. My sins, your sins, are paid for in the death of our Savior, Jesus. Pronounced to us in absolution, received by us in the Supper of Christ’s body and blood. Guilt is replaced by peace. Death is replaced by life. As Luther so simply put it in the Small Catechism, “where there is forgiveness of sins there is life and salvation.” And through all these gifts, the Holy Spirit is at work strengthening faith and love toward God, and He moves us to love our neighbor. That’s the mustard seed growing, and that, by the power of the Spirit, is what happens here.

Faith sees great things, like rejoicing in heaven, happening in the Kingdom. In faith, we see things as they are. Every Sunday morning, the seed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is sown. People hear. In faith, you repent. And in that very moment, the host of heavenly angels is rejoicing. A thrill goes through heaven above at something that took place down here among us.

Remember the mustard seed and rejoice in what you do in Jesus’ name. A simple invitation extended to someone to come to church, where the gifts of Jesus are given. It won’t make the nightly news, but it causes rejoicing in heaven.

Our own lives in the Kingdom have a hidden significance that is great indeed. Like those birds, seeking shelter in the shade of a mustard plant, we live by faith within the shelter of this kingdom of grace, where Christ’s righteousness covers all our sin. And then, when the Lord returns, we and all the world, believer and unbeliever alike, will see just how great the kingdom of the mustard seed is.

It’s just as Jesus said in the other parable in our text, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come” (Vv. 26–29). That’s what the farmer does. That’s what you do. And what a harvest!

Rarely, if ever, will someone esteem us or praise us for living by faith in Christ. Your Sunday paper or evening news won’t report this. And it’s not their job. But for you and me, who own this glorious mystery, it is our job. The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. And don’t forget it. Behold it in faith, and then live in its grace. Invite people to come to this place, where the precious seed is sown. And let us pray that God will make it grow among us all.

Passive Sentences -15%
Readability -75%
Reading Level-5.

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