Small beginnings mark the growth of God’s reign. A tiny, seemingly insignificant mustard seed can yield a flourishing tree—a tree large enough for birds to live in, produce buds from which to multiply other trees, and provide an awning for rest. This parable reveals the workings of the kingdom of God. Thousands of tiny acts of love lead to a new kind of people who multiply into an even greater number of acts of love—all the while pointing to God.
Just like a mustard seed, the yeast seems insignificant. However, just as the mustard tree begins with a tiny seed to produce a great harvest, the yeast is “worked all through the dough” (NIV). The kingdom of God brings a “leavening” to every aspect of life.
Imagine what the Jews in Jesus’ day, who were expecting a king who would lead a political and military revolt, must have thought when Jesus presented the image of the kingdom of God as a tiny mustard seed and yeast. They must have found it difficult to comprehend how Jesus could be a king at all, let alone the Messiah.
Jesus’ teaching in these two parables, however, articulates that the reign of God works peacefully and from small and humble beginnings. Jesus will not lead a violent revolt to conquer the Romans. Instead, Jesus leads a quiet and humble movement characterized by peace, hope, and love.
Each of our specific acts of love, regardless of their seeming smallness, reveals that the kingdom of God exists and flourishes. In God’s economy, there is no rich or poor, large or small—just multisized acts of love and compassion, all of which point to God’s rule and reign.
God, help me to see that all the good I do, no matter how insignificant I may think it is, points to your reign over both the physical and spiritual world. Amen.
In the Genesis text, Jacob the trickster is tricked. Yet through a combination of patience and perseverance he ultimately wins Rachel, which sets the stage for all that follows in the story of Abraham’s family. Psalm 105 addresses a forgetful community that has lost touch with the God of the Exodus. Remembering becomes a powerful experience when it focuses on both God’s actions and God’s judgments. Romans 8 also serves as a reminder of God’s way, of God’s movements from knowledge to action, from saving grace to promised glory. The scribe of Matthew’s short parable brings out of the store- house both what is new and what is old. There is no true future without a remembrance of the past.
• Read Genesis 29:15-28. When have you experienced a setback due to poor treatment at the hands of someone you trusted? What did you learn?
• Read Psalm 105:1-11, 45b. How do you “seek God’s face”? How do you offer thanks to God?
• Read Romans 8:26-39. Consider Paul’s three questions and formulate a one- or two-sentence answer of your own.
• Read Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. How do the parables about what the kingdom of God is like surprise you? How do they shock you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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