Devotion for June 21, 2018

“The kingdom of God – is like a grain of mustard seed – ” Mark 4:30, 31

If we were to write a story about how God in his great and mighty way
was going to rescue his special people and destroy all his enemies, our
version of the story would never read like the New Testament.
We like big and impressive heroes who live larger than life. We like
obvious winners. We like decisive victories. And we like the glory that
goes with all of that. If we were writing a story about God, it would
probably not look or sound like anything from the Bible. It certainly
wouldn’t involve planting little, unimpressive mustard seeds. But in the
parable of the mustard seed, Jesus is making the point that God’s ways
are not our ways.

Jesus is teaching us that despite appearances, what He was doing while
on earth was going to have a dramatic outcome. From one little Rabbi
from Nazareth along with His band of twelve motley men, would come
something big enough to change the world forever.

Jesus had come to bring the reign of God into the world. And in many
ways it did not look very effective or important. But it was how God
planned to bring people into His kingdom. Who would have thought
that God would arrive as a helpless baby in a manger? Who would have
thought that a ragtag group of men would be hand-selected to carry the
kingdom of God to the very ends of the earth? Who would have
thought that God’s kingdom would include turning the other cheek and
loving one’s enemies? Who would have thought that God’s own Son
would lead by suffering and dying a shameful death on a cross in order
to restore all things–to fight death with death?

The answer? No one but God would have done things this way. And
yet, through this unimpressive ministry of Jesus, God’s reign has grown
into the most powerful kingdom ever–a kingdom where the sins of the
sinful are forgiven, mercy is shown to the merciless, and the poor in
Spirit are made rich in the undeserved grace of God.

The little mustard seed is truly unimpressive at first. And perhaps your
faith and our churches are just as unimpressive today. But just as the
little mustard seed will grow into a large plant, so will God’s “little”
kingdom grow into the all-encompassing rule and reign of God Almighty.
With repentance and faith wrought by the Holy Spirit, you have been
brought into this kingly reign of Jesus. Your faith and your life may feel
as little and insignificant as a tiny mustard seed. But God promises that
it will all change in the future. This parable invites you to live with faith
and hope until the Day that Christ returns to make all things new. Only
on that Last and glorious Day will the fullness of God’s reign be seen.
Until then, trust in the seemingly unimpressive works of God in your
life: baptism, confession and absolution, the Lord’s Supper, hearing the
Word of God through sermons and Bible Studies. These are all signs
that the best is yet to come.

Prayer: Grant me faith, O Lord, to trust your ways and not my
own, until you come again; through Jesus Christ, Amen.