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Faith in Action: Be the Church
Small Acts Can Make a Big Difference
Look at this week’s passage. Luke 13:18–21 “Jesus said therefore, ‘What is the Kingdom of God like?And to what shall I compare it?19 It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden,and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.’20 And again He said, ‘To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God?21 It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened’”ESV.
As we read this passage we hear Jesus ask a question: “What is the Kingdom of God like?” The reality is: No one had ever seen the “Kingdom of God” Jesus was describing. He never even defined it. He just told stories and gave comparisons to help people, as they tried to, understand and visualize what it was like.
In His first example, Jesus says that Gods working is like, “a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” The mustard seed is very, very small. The black mustard seed was the smallest seed ever sown by a first-century farmer in that part of the world.
Because of its size the mustard seed was used proverbially for anything that was small and insignificant. Today we would say that someone had a “pea brain;” but, if we lived in Jesus’ time, we would have said they had a “mustard seed brain.”
However, even though the mustard seed was small, it grew to be the largest of the herbs grown in that area. It typically grew to be 12 feet — two feet taller than a basketball hoop. It was big, and it was bushy enough for birds to nest in it.
Let me share with you a segment of an article I read that talks about this parable and specifically mustard. Some have identified a “subversive and scandalous” element to this parable, in that the fast-growing nature of the mustard plant makes it a “malignant weed” with “dangerous takeover properties” Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History (published around AD 78) writes that “mustard… is extremely beneficial for the health. It grows entirely wild, though it is improved by being transplanted: but on the other hand when it has once been sown it is scarcely possible to get the place free of it, as the seed when it falls germinates at once.”
And, it is noted, that Jesus could have chosen a genuine tree for the parable, and that the mustard plant demonstrates that “Though the dominion appeared small like a seed during Jesus’ ministry, it would inexorably grow into something large and firmly rooted, which some would find shelter in and others would find obnoxious and try to root out.”
In His second illustration, Jesus says that God’s working is like… “…yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.” As a boy, Jesus undoubtedly had watched His mother make the daily bread. She would have used yeast to make it rise. She wouldn’t have used dry yeast used today; rather, it was a very small lump of dough taken from the previous day’s making of bread. She would take that lump of dough and knead it in to the new flour mixture and eventually that yeast would permeate and influence the entire batch.
Medication: A Merry Heart
The young man ahead of my father at the flower shop was taking an unusually long time to place his order.
When the clerk asked how she could help, he explained that his girlfriend was turning 19 and he couldn't decide whether to give her a dozen roses or 19 roses -- one for each year of her life.
The woman put aside her business judgment and advised, "She may be your 19-year-old girlfriend now, but someday she could be your 50-year-old wife."
The young man bought a dozen roses.
St Mark’s Community Church, Janesville
New Beginnings Church, New Ulm
Verse of the Week: 1 John 3:9 ESV
Today’s readings: Deuteronomy 5 – 7