THE GIFT OF THE MUSTARD SEED Mark 4:30-32 ...And Jesus said, “With what can we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet, when it is sown, it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.... Questions for Consideration and Discussion A) “The Kingdom of God....” - What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase, “the kingdom of God”? Is it everything everywhere, or just all people, or just some of the people, or perhaps heaven? Do you think of your congregation as “the kingdom of God”? What if your congregation was the only part of the kingdom of God that some people ever came to know? How well does it represent that title? What about it makes it at least a part of the visible “kingdom of God” on earth? In what way is the “kingdom of God” within you, as an individual Christian? B) “...What parable shall we use for it?” - A “parable” is defined as a teaching story that has one main point (although the term is used more broadly throughout the Gospels). What do you think is the one main point that Jesus is trying to make about the Kingdom of God in this parable? (You may need to consider the time and circumstances in which this parable was given and written down.) C) “...A grain of mustard seed...” - Have you ever seen a mustard seed? It is similar in size to a poppy seed. When you hear the term “mustard seed”, what do you think of? What things within your congregation seem like little mustard seeds to you? What things in your own life seem like mustard seeds? How could you use something that seems small, weak, or of little value to do great things in the Kingdom of God? Do you ever feel that your congregation is a kind of mustard seed in your community? In what way? Can you think of an instance in which your congregation has “planted a mustard seed” of some sort, and seen it grow and flourish into something much larger than you ever imagined? D) “...the greatest of all shrubs...” - In the Holy Land, mustard bushes have been known to grow to as much as 25-30 feet in height. What idea was Jesus trying to get across by mentioning that birds can come and make their nests in it? What one thing needs to happen first, in order for the mustard seed to grow into a large mustard bush? As noted by Jesus in other parables, a seed has to be “buried” and “die” for something greater to come out of it, such as when he was speaking of His own death and burial. Before they are “buried,” mustard seeds are brimming with life and potential, but it is not fully realized until it is buried in the ground. Then great things can begin to happen. Think of your mustard seeds in life. What is happening to the potential for life and mission that God has given to you in the “seed” of your money and possessions? What will happen to
it when you are buried? Will it simply die with you, or will it grow in ways beyond your imagining to give life to the Kingdom of God in your congregation, your church body, your world? Will others be able to give thanks to God for you, because of the mustard seeds you have planted? r.e.n .