Sunday, June 6, 2021

Proper 6 - Series B

Proper 6 Series B notes

Proper 6 - Series B
Study Notes
Mark 4:26-34
Ezekiel 17:22-24
Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15 (12)
2 Corinthians 5:6-10 [11-13] 14-17
13 June. 2021 -

Prayer of the Day
God, you are the tree of life, offering shelter to all the world. Graft us into yourself and nurture our growth, that we may bear your truth and love to those in need, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Rev. Dr. Daniel J Brege 

“[The kingdom of God] is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 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.” Mark 4:31-32                                                                        

Though the parables of Jesus were different from those spoken by other Rabbis of His day, yet there were similarities in the use of certain “stock” illustrations in such parables.  The following are recognized as some of the stock illustrations found in rabbinic parables in the first century:  A king represented God; harvest represented judgment; marriage represented the Messianic Age; a field represented the world; birds represented gentiles or evil beings. Jesus added His own “stock” illustrations, probably the most notable being the sowing of seed, which represented the spread of the Kingdom through preaching.

Unlike other rabbis, Jesus rarely gave interpretations to His parables; He fully expected people to wrestle with them, seeking interpretations consistent with the Old Testament and with what Christ had revealed to His Apostles.  Those who rejected the guidance of the Holy Spirit and thus would not wrestle with Christ’s parables, who just brushed them off as practically useless, are those who hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand [Mt 13:13].   

An obvious point being made by the parable of the mustard seed, is that Christ’s kingdom will start as a very small seed, but it will ultimately grow into a towering tree.  We who can look back on the progress of the Church can clearly see this reality; the Church started so small it seemed ready to perish because of poverty and persecution, but it has since grown to tower over every continent.  This has happened not because of clever planning, nor because of shrewd business models, nor because of charismatic church leaders through the centuries, nor because the message has been “adapted” to fit every culture and era.  It has happened because the message of the Gospel—the good news of Christ’s saving death and His life-guaranteeing resurrection—continues to change people by the Holy Spirit who works thereby.  People are not only thus born anew in Christ Jesus, but simultaneously they are changed and empowered to produce the God-pleasing, Christ-like fruit of love. 

This brings us to a secondary point made by the parable.  When Christ’s kingdom has thus grown into a monumental tree, its branches are able to provide a place for the birds.  In Mark’s record of the parable, the birds nest in the Kingdom’s shade, and in Matthew’s account, the birds nest in the Kingdom’s branches. Christ’s parable thus portrays how the Church is a blessing to the “birds” which rest/nest in its shady branches.  As the “birds” were gentiles in rabbinic parables, and as Jesus would use “birds” in another parable to illustrate demons snatching God’s seed, so now in this parable one can readily recognize the “birds” to be the non-Christians of the world.  Indeed Christ’s Church is and has been a blessing even to unbelievers!  On every continent the Church has become the source of previously unknown wisdom and love. In his book, How Christianity Changed the World, Alvin Schmidt has shown how Christ’s kingdom has been THE positive influence on the world’s charitable attitudes.  Before the Church of Christ, there were no hospitals, no adoption agencies and no charities to help the poor and elderly. Christianity has elevated marriage, sexuality and children. It has given women dignity and worth like never before. In summary, Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection have given heretofore unknown value to fallen people. When Christians—that is, those re-born to be in and like Christ—permeate a godless society, the godless “birds” are unknowingly blessed.    

Of course God’s goal is not simply to graciously bestow blessings on unbelievers (“birds”), yet it shows the love of Christ, a love Christians do not withhold from unbelievers.  God’s desire is that all people come to the knowledge of the truth—that they also become members of Christ’s body, the Church.

Greek Text (NA27)

The Parable of the Seed Growing in Secret- Vv. 26-29

Note Only Mark records this parable.

Whereas the parable of the sower stresses the importance of proper soil for the growth of seed and the success of the harvest, here the mysterious power of the seed itself is emphasized. The gospel message contains its own power. 

Some see this parable chiefly as a parable of contrast. As seedtime is followed in due time by harvest, so will the present hiddenness and ambiguousness of the kingdom of God be succeeded by its glorious manifestation. This parable conveys both a warning and a word of encouragement to Jesus’ disciples. However important their role may be (21–25), they are not to imagine that the Kingdom is their kingdom or its triumph their triumph;the Kingdom remains God’s mysteriously creative work. He is “Lord of the harvest” (Mark 9:38). This serves for encouragement also; however slow and unspectacular the “progress” of the Kingdom may be, the outcome is in the sure hands of the Creator. Men may pray, “Thy kingdom come,” with patience and confidence.

26Καὶ ἔλεγεν, Οὕτωςἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦθεοῦὡςἄνθρωπος βάλῃτὸν σπόρον ἐπὶ τῆςγῆς
And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 

27καὶ καθεύδῃ καὶ ἐγείρηται νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν, καὶ ὁ σπόρος βλαστᾷ καὶ μηκύνηται ὡςοὐκοἶδεν αὐτός.
He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.

οἶδεν (oiden|knows/understands) – 

At first there may be little to show for the sowing of the seed, and a skeptical observer might think that nothing is happening. But there is an inner dynamic in the message which will in due time produce its effect, even if human insight cannot fathom how the process works (ὡςοὐκοἶδεν αὐτός). In the meantime the wise disciple will wait in confidence for God's work to be accomplished in God's way. The kingdom of God, then, does not depend on human effort to achieve it, and human insight will not be able to explain it.

28αὐτομάτη ἡ γῆ καρποφορεῖ, πρῶτονχόρτον, εἶτα στάχυν, εἶτα πλήρη[ς] σῖτονἐντῷστάχυϊ.
The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 

29ὅταν δὲ παραδοῖ ὁ καρπός, εὐθὺς ἀποστέλλειτὸδρέπανον, ὅτι παρέστηκεν ὁ θερισμός.
But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” 

The Parable of the Mustard Seed 30-34
The main point of this parable is that the kingdom of God seemingly had insignificant beginnings. It was introduced by the despised and rejected Jesus and his 12 unimpressive disciples. But a day will come when its true greatness and power will be seen by the entire world. See also Matthew 13:31–33; Luke 13:18-f. This is another parable of contrasts, but the contrast may not be, as is sometimes thought, between the Church's insignificant beginnings and the wide spread, powerful organization it was to become: it is rather between the present veiled-ness of the Kingdom of God and its future glorious manifestation at the Parousia.

30Καὶ ἔλεγεν, Πῶςὁμοιωσωμεντὴν βασιλείαν τοῦθεοῦ, ἢ ἐντίνι αὐτὴνπαραβολῇθῶμεν; 
And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?  

31ὡς κόκκῳσινάπεως, ὃςὅταν σπαρῇ ἐπὶ τῆςγῆς, μικρότερονὂν πάντωντῶν σπερμάτωντῶν ἐπὶ τῆςγῆς, 
It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 

32καὶ ὅταν σπαρῇ, ἀναβαίνει καὶ γίνεται μεῖζον πάντωντῶν λαχάνων καὶ ποιεῖκλάδουςμεγάλους, ὥστεδύνασθαι ὑπὸ τὴνσκιὰν αὐτοῦτὰ πετεινὰτοῦοὐρανοῦ κατασκηνοῦν.
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.” 

κατασκηνοῦν (kataskenoun|to nest/live/dwell) – See also Ezekiel 17:23; 31:6; Daniel 4:12,14,21. When at last he comes in his glory, who is himself the Kingdom (1:15), he will be not only the Judge of all men, but also the one under whose shadow all who have truly trusted in him will find shelter. Drawing attention to these same OT texts and particularly to 'all great nations' in Ezekiel 31:6, the allusion here may be intended to indicate the future wide scope of the kingdom of God, within which many nations (not only Israel) will find their place. Of this and the parable of the growth of the kingdom in verses 26-29, the two parables of verses 26-32 thus both warn against underestimating the significance of the proclamation of the kingdom of God, however unimpressive its initial impact may seem. What has begun in the Galilean ministry of Jesus will, by the power of God, one day prove to be of ultimate significance. If for the time being its power is hidden, it is not for that reason any less certain, and its growth will be spectacular.

33Καὶ τοιαύταις παραβολαῖς πολλαῖς ἐλάλει αὐτοῖςτὸνλόγον, καθωςἠδύναντο ἀκούειν·
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. 

34χωρὶς δὲ παραβολῆςοὐκἐλάλει αὐτοῖς, κατ• ἰδίαν δὲτοῖςἰδίοις μαθηταῖς ἐπέλυεν πάντα.
He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

χωρὶςδὲ παραβολῆςοὐκἐλάλει αὐτοῖς - (choris de parabolesoukelaleiautois|apart but from parables not he was speaking) 

- Jesus used parables to illustrate truths, stimulate thinking and awaken spiritual perception. The people in general were not ready for the full truth of the gospel. When alone with his disciples Jesus taught more specifically, but even they usually needed to have things explained.

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