June 17th All Age Worship with Holy Communion
Main passage: Mark 4:26-34,
and also 1 Samuel 16:1-13.
Samuel arrives. He has made the trip. The new king is to be revealed. It will be one of Jesse’ sons. And so he meets them. He expects it to be obvious – here he is, it is Eliab!
No it isn’t.
And here he is…
oh no it isn’t… ”Are all your sons here?” he ask.
Bit of a daft question. I mean surely they are. But despite all that is going on – what is going on may be in his mind – Samuel has confidence – God is doing something. God sent him here. He is to anoint the new king, so where is he? And we learn – God doesn’t look on the surface but sees below. We learn the king to be – is hidden. The youngest. Jesse didn’t even think him worthy to be there – his arms are thin, what would a legendary prophet want with him. Smallest of the brothers? Insignificant. Yet. He is to become the greatest of Israel’s kings.
Davis anointing helps us reflect upon as we briefly look at Mark 4. Some observations then applications.
For help and insights into these observations – thanks to Garland, D. E. (1996). Mark (pp. 177-78). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
Jesus has been teaching on the kingdom in Mark 4. Now the Parable of the Growing Seed followed by the Parable of Mustard Seed. Both about seeds that are sown on the ground, both about the certainity of the harvest to come. One about hiddeness, another about smallness.
- Confidence. The seed will grow while the farmer works and waits. Began with sowing. Ends with a harvest. The confidence is modelled by Jesus. Jesus is sure – the kingdom is coming. The life changing moment – has come for people. He has no doubts, no lack of faith, no impatience, even apparent failures, or lack of understanding from parents, or criticism or nasty accusations from religious leadership will knock his confidence. God is working his purpose out.
- Patience. The farmer gets up he works he sleeps. Patience. The harvest will come, it is God given. So is the kingdom. It cannot be forced. There are steps for a plant – the stalk, head, then full grain – so it cannot be rushed but it will come over time. ‘God will do what God is sure to do, but it takes time.’
- Farmer cannot affect the process. The seed does not depend on the farmer’s ability, wisdom or activity. He has sown. It is now out of his hands. He waits for the harvest.
- Hiddenness. Doesn’t matter it is hidden. There is ongoing growth. It will become visible at the right time. When we consider the ocean, we see a vaste expanse of blue, and it may be empty, nothing to see. And yet we look below the water, and the amount of life that is present. The parable is teaching – the kingdom growth may be hidden but the kingdom had began to work.
- Insignificant. The mustard seed is small. It was a proverbial saying – ”as small as a mustard seed” but how this smallest of seeds can grow into a 2-3m high plant. The small seed – looks so unpromising. Yet what it will grow into? A plan that birds can rest and nest in, Jesus says. Something extraordinary. David – did Jesse see a lack of promise – and yet what did he grow into? Think of the kingdom. The core event at its heart. Jesus of Nazareth – crucified, rejected, mocked. Yet he would become the one before all knees will bow and the judge of the living and the dead.
How can this help us as believers? Applications.
(Thanks to for these application points. Garland, D. E. (1996). Mark (pp. 184-88). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House).
a) A confidence in us that dispels despair. We don’t see the results. It is hidden. We become discouraged. It is small, not what we expected. We can have a type of vision that we cannot see what God is doing in the soil. So, we are unable to believe he is at work in the soil. We cannot see triumph in what looks like nothing.
Can I suggest a comparison between Thirza and I. We had eaten a yellow pepper and she took some of the seeds, went and got a pot of the shed, got some soil from a bag in the shed, and put the seeds in and expectant that something will happen. Me, hey, at that moment, I thought – nice idea but what will happen, probably nothing? Is Thirza a picture of where some of us are? Confident in the workings of God? Others a picture like me? Do we lack confidence. In fact have we lost confidence – ?
You see, I have never grown anything in my life – my parents love gardening. Me. I can cut rose bushes and cut grass that is it. But when I was about 7, I took an apple, took the 6 seeds out, planted them into 6 pots of soil. Expecting an apple tree. And you know three pots nothing happened. But you know. In three pots, there became a stalk, then a head. So my Dad planted them into the ground. One made it to winter, then frost killed it. Second and third grew. Second one never produced fruit. But the third. Well, it is still there in parents garden. 37 years old producing apples and it is 4-5 or more m high.
So. Thirza plants. Have I lost confidence? Did I have confidence in the past?
Did we have greater confidence in God being at work, but it has been knocked or pulled down. It can happen. But can it be restored…
b) Seed’s success – does not depend on us. Success depends not on the one who preaches but on God. We bear witness we do not worry about creating responses. We don’t make the seed grow. Jesus had just taught on the parable of the sower – four types of soil – hard soil, rocky soil, thorns, good soil – he reminds us that there is power in the seed and it does not depend on our sowing alone. Paul said –
‘I Paul planted, Apollos watered but God gave the growth.’ (1 Cor 3:6).
The farmer, doesn’t know how it grows, really. Can we be busy – trying to do the work of God – we concentrate on what we need to be doing / have been accomplishing, instead of reflecting on what God is accomplishing? Trust the seed to do what the seed does in the soil.
c) Patient faith. We live in an age with instant communication. Which has many wonderful benefits.
We live in an age when we thought email was fast.
Then we moved to phones and texting. Why don’t they respond, I texted them 10 minutes ago?
To smartphones, whatsapp, I messaged you 2 minutes ago….
Kids on days like today are asking their fathers – why do microwaves take so long!
Patience the teachings remind us.
”We can want faith in a hurry. Plough the field, plant the seed, reap the harvest, thresh the grain, bake the cake, all in one worship service!” (Garland, D. E. (1996). Mark (p. 187). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.)
Not instantaneous growth within us or within others. An appointed order. Let the seed do its work. Let the word have its work within lives, ours, others. Do we need to cultivate spiritual patience? Do we expect God to work at the speed of society?
And of course, this points to the harvest, the seed has become the tree. The final consummation of the kingdom. Steps to take place. Patient faith that it will come. The kingdom will come. He will come.
Parable reminds us:
1. Confidence to overcome despair or loss of hope;
2. seeds success does not depend on our efforts;
3. patient faith in an era of impatience.
Shall we pray…