031814Mark 4:26–34—Further stories

26 Jesus also said, “Here is another illustration of what the Kingdom of God is like: A farmer planted seeds in a field, 27 and then he went on with his other activities. As the days went by, the seeds sprouted and grew without the farmer’s help, 28 because the earth produces crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. 29 And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle.” 30 Jesus asked, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? 31 It is like a tiny mustard seed. Though this is one of the smallest of seeds, 32 it grows to become one of the largest of plants, with long branches where birds can come and find shelter.” 33 He used many such stories and illustrations to teach the people as much as they were able to understand. 34 In fact, in his public teaching he taught only with stories, but afterward when he was alone with his disciples, he explained the meaning to them.

Points of Interest:

  • ‘finally the grain ripens’—It takes time for a plant to grow. If we can assume that the seed signifies Jesus’ message here as it does in the previous story, then what this story teaches us is that there’s often some time between hearing Jesus’ message and that message bearing fruit in our lives. If you are hearing words from Jesus but you can’t understand how they are immediately relevant, don’t be frustrated or discouraged. Wait, and be on the lookout. God’s words have a habit of coming alive at just the right time. Days, weeks, or months from now, something you are reading today might suddenly speak to you in a new way. Be on the lookout. God too is on the lookout for when the word comes alive, and he will respond.
  • ‘where birds can come and find shelter’—The mustard seed starts out as a very tiny seed. It is basically bird feed. But if it is given the chance to grow, it becomes a nesting place. It grows from insignificant to huge. That’s the way Jesus’ good news is too. It might seem small, almost inconsequential at first. Even the steps we take to respond to it may seem small. But in time, it grows huge in our lives. It grows into a place we can find shelter. Don’t despise the small ways you are hearing and responding to Jesus’ message. This is not the end of the story.

Taking it Home:

  • For you: Reflect for a moment on your history with God’s words. What are some words that seemed small when you began but have grown huge in your life? Spend a few moments celebrating what has happened.
  • For your 6: If you can’t see immediately how Jesus’ words are taking effect in the lives of your 6, don’t be discouraged. Be on the lookout for moments when the words of Jesus suddenly break through the surface. And be ready to respond when you see something happening.
  • For our church: In this passage, we see again how Jesus speaks publicly to a larger crowd, but he follows it up with a much smaller discussion. It was in this smaller setting that the disciples really got to understand what the teaching meant for them. In our church, our small groups are meant to be that ‘when they were alone’ experience. Pray that our Life Groups would continue to grow, and that they would be places where we can really, personally unpack what Jesus is saying. If you are not in a group, consider joining one. If you are a group leader, make sure you take the opportunity to work out with one another what God has been saying to us. Contact lifegroups@journeycom.org to find out about groups.