The Parable of the Mustard Seed Part 3

  • Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew chapter 13, verses 31-32)

    Listen to the full sermon here

    Seeds are a common theme in Jesus’ teaching. There are several parables about them. There’s another side to it as well.

    In John chapter 12, Jesus was talking to his disciples and said:

    “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (Verses 23-24)

    One of the great Christian writers and debaters of the third century, Turtullian, commented on the persecutions the church had experienced when Christians were arrested by the authorities and executed, or lynched by mobs.

    He said this: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

    That has been seen time and again in history, from the mass executions of Christians by the Roman Emperor Nero in 64AD through to the explosion in growth of the Underground Church in China, today. People who are opposed to God and to the Good News try to kill it, but the kernels of wheat that fall to the ground bear a harvest beyond all reckoning.

    Jesus called us as his followers to take up our cross daily and follow him. We don’t really feel the impact of his words. He is asking us to walk into the gas chamber daily for him. He is saying that following him is like choosing to sit in the electric chair every day.

    How can he make such a demand on us? How can he expect any sane person to do that?

    In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, the Apostle Paul is explaining to his readers about the resurrection. He says:

    But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. …

    So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. (verses  35-38 & 42-44)

    This is the reason Jesus can make that claim on us. Because the perishable bodies that we all have will be raised imperishable. These flawed kernels of wheat that are sown are transformed into something beyond human knowledge and experience.

    Even if it is sown in dishonour, it will be raised in glory. Even if it is sown in weakness it will be raised in power.

    Christians talk a lot about Jesus’s death and how that changes the way we can relate to God. Jesus’ death pays the ransom to free us from the effects of sin so that we can enter a new and renewed relationship with God as a result.

    That is the essence of the Good News – the Gospel. That is the founding principle of the Kingdom of God. But living in the Kingdom of God goes beyond just that, because it is not just Jesus’ death that matters, but his resurrection.

    That is the thing on which our hope is truly founded because it authenticates everything Jesus said. It is only because of the resurrection of Jesus that we can believe with utmost certainty that our ransoms have been paid.

    It is through the resurrection that we have the assurance that death is not the end of our stories, that when our perishable bodies are sown into the earth there will come a time beyond time when we will be raised to a glorious and joyful life with our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, the Father, and the Holy Spirit.

    Missed parts 1 and 2? Read them here:

    The Parable of the Mustard Seed Part 1

    The Parable of the Mustard Seed Part 2

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