15 October 2019Matthew 13:31-35
He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’ (vs. 31-32)
Psalm: Psalm 75:1-7
Today’s passage continues Jesus’ observation of everyday objects about which his hearers were experts. The crowd knew about seeds, shrubs, birds and mixing yeast with flour until it is leavened. Here was a Rabbi using idioms that the crowd could understand and about which they had knowledge to share. As they heard these homely stories they perhaps smiled with appreciation and nodded with recognition.
But the power of Jesus’ parables is that no sooner had the hearer become engaged with familiarity, then the story becomes complex and disorientating. What on earth can these small everyday objects have in ‘likenesses’ to the grand and eternal ideas about the ‘kingdom of heaven’? His hearers are suddenly dislodged from their familiarity of everyday life and forced to think about big ideas. What is noticeable is that Jesus does not always amplify what his parables mean. He leaves them in the air for the crowds to ponder. The nods of initial recognition have become changed to shakes of the head asking, "What on earth does that mean?"
- Do you like sermons that raise unanswered questions?
- What every day experience might inspire you to write a parable?
- Jesus speaks about the interconnectedness of birds nesting in shrubs and trees. What steps might your church take to encourage plants and birds?