We are in the midst of the long season of Sundays after Pentecost. You will see the color Green on our altar and vestments, so it could be called the Long Green Season. Throughout the summer, and into the Fall, we will hear many of the teachings of Jesus while he walked this earth with his disciples, or another word, his students. Many of them call him Rabbi, which means teacher, so you can see how the relationship is developed while he walked on this earth.
The reading from the Gospel of Mark we heard today is a familiar story. It involves seeds and the kingdom of God.
First let me say, that Jesus started by saying, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That means it is here, right now. Jesus established the kingdom of heaven on earth, which means he connected heaven and earth. This kingdom is not something in the future. Jesus established it for all time. In fact, we are living in this kingdom, and we have a King!
Back to the seeds. Many have tried to describe what Jesus was talking about. I think it is pretty simple really.
A seed, just one seed, by itself, seems very insignificant. It looks dead, really. Birds and even ants like to eat seeds. We like to eat some seeds, too. My personal favorite is the pecan. Ok, technically, that’s a nut, but if you leave it on the ground, it will sprout, and has the potential to be a tree.
Back to the mustard seed. The White Mustard plant, that has yellow leaves which produce a seed pod, makes seeds that are about 1mm to 1.5mm is diameter. Very small compared to some seeds. The seed looks very insignificant, rather worthless, but it has potential. The seed that Jesus talks about may be different, we don’t know, but his description of the potential for the plant is pretty great. It makes a great shrub, he says, with branches big enough for birds to make nests in its shade. This is great potential realized.
So, if the kingdom of heaven is like this, then lets think this through. Like the seed, it may seem very insignificant to those who do not understand it. It can be overlooked completely, like a mustard seed that has fallen to the ground. But it can be a great and wonderful thing. If you know how to see it, then you can know how great it is.
Jesus said, you must have the eyes to see. He means this in a spiritual way. Of course we have eyes on our faces to see the material world, but do our inner, spiritual eyes see the kingdom of God?
We will hear many more parables about the kingdom of God. Parables were meant to describe his vision of the kingdom to those with spiritual eyes and ears. So how do we know we are living in the kingdom? The best way is to take it on faith.
That means to believe it, accept it, and to live in it without question, putting aside skepticism and doubt.
Remember Doubting Thomas? Do you remember what Jesus said to him? Jesus said, “Do you believe because you see me? How happy are those who believe without seeing me!”
I came across a story recently of a fashion model who rejected her successful career because she realized it was degrading her self-esteem.
In an interview with the magazine Christian Today, she said. “I felt degraded, that I was never ‘perfect’ enough, and being judged only on my appearance was hurting my self-esteem. I realized I wanted more for my life. I rediscovered my faith that I had as a little girl, and it changed my life because I was passionate about using my gifts for God instead of the empty modeling industry.”
Did you hear that? She rediscovered her faith that she had as a little girl.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19)
Regarding her journey to God, this lady says she returned to the faith she had as a young girl with the help of a longtime friend named Christian. She told the interviewer, “She’s the one who planted seeds in my heart and told me ‘God has a purpose for you, he loves you.’ She really was planting the seeds of God’s love and hope in my heart.”
The friend planted the seeds in her heart. These were like the insignificant mustard seeds, that brought her into the kingdom of God. The seeds were planted in your hearts some time ago, too.
Maybe your parents planted the seeds. Maybe someone at school planted the seeds. Maybe it was some random person who said something as simple as “God bless you” at just the right time in your life.
Sometimes you just don’t know. And that’s OK, but the seed is just the beginning. If the seed falls on good ground and sprouts, and grows into a crop, “some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” (Mark 4:8)
And you in turn may have planted the seeds of God’s love and hope in the hearts of another person. Maybe it was as simple as inviting some acquaintance to church. Or maybe it was showing your Christian love by sharing of your time with someone.
Maybe it was taking food to someone who cannot get out and do for themselves. Maybe it was simply caring enough to listen to another person in pain, or who was lost.
Please never be afraid to plant seeds, my brothers and my sisters. You might make the difference in one other person’s life.
You may not see the seed sprout, and you may never see the plant or crop, but that’s OK. You did your part in the kingdom of God.
You planted a seed, as insignificant as a mustard seed, but with the potential to bring someone into the kingdom of God for wonderful, glorious, eternal life in the presence of our God and King. And that is a beautiful thing! Amen.