Pew Sermon – Mark 4:26-34

The Kingdom of God starts very small. This is the essence of the two parables that Jesus shares with us in today Gospel reading. The kingdom is like a seed scattered on the ground, which is tiny to start with, and appears to do nothing at first. But, if the farmer is patient, it grows into a wonderful harvest.

Or the kingdom is like an acorn, which disappears into the ground but given time and patience, grows into a huge tree.

These are familiar parables, certainly to us, but perhaps we forget the shock value that it would have had with Jesus’s listeners.

Jesus is talking about the kingdom of God, the rule of God.

If we were in first century Judea what would we expect the rule of God to look like and where would we look for it?

In our time we are not used to being ruled by an absolute monarch, but in Jesus’ time they were.

Whether they liked it or not, their king was Caesar, ruling from a distant land through governors of ruthless authority. To the Romans Caesar was the equivalent of God, and indeed at some time Caesar was worshiped. 

His power was absolute and total obedience was demanded.

He lived in luxurious palaces and was the epitome of opulence and power.

The people knew what a kingdom looked like. It was big and grand and powerful.

So, Jesus’ parables of the kingdom came as something of a surprise.

The kingdom that Jesus speaks about is quieter and smaller. It sneaks up on you like a thief in the night; it lies dormant underground waiting to produce a tiny sprout; it hides in ordinary working people, farmers, shepherds, fishermen, housewives, as they go about their everyday business.

God’s reign is present everywhere, hidden, tiny, ordinary.

It does not arrive with panache or pomp and ceremony for all to see.

If you want to find it you have to look, very carefully and very closely, at little things.

We live in a world that is fixated on size and success. Businesses have targets for growth. The growth of the national economy is carefully encouraged. Much of our world is influenced by huge multinational companies and conglomerates. 

Churches are anxious about declining numbers.

In the midst of all this, Jesus’ words encourage us to look for God at work in the little things; small acts of love and generosity that grow into warmth and community; the everyday kindness of people who serve others.

Small groups of faithful people whose prayers spread over the neighbourhood.

Sunshine and rainbows, buttercups and sparrows, small signs of God’s creative will.

It takes commitment and patience to see in these things sings of God’s reign.

But it matters that we take the time and that we look.

God’s kingdom will come, Jesu said, but it is also already here.

It is the task of His people to look for the signs, and to nurture them, until the whole world sees God’s glory and His love.