Mark places the parable of the mustard seed at the end of a series of parables that compare the word of God to a seed. Parables come in various forms, some have a developed plot, others take the form of an analogy or similitude. The mustard seed parable is a similitude. When Jesus was teaching about the kingdom of God he was not usually teaching of something that we have to wait for beyond death. He was teaching about the kingdom of God in the present. Life may be perfected in heaven but we are to experience his kingdom now as he transforms our lives, as the Spirit is at work in the present. He establishes his kingdom and kingship through his death, resurrection and ascension.
At the core of his kingdom is the word of God. The word of God is like the mustard seed, it may seem small and without power but it is very powerful and causes incredible growth increasing the kingdom. As members of the kingdom of God we need to learn to trust in the word as an agent of the kingdom’s growth.
The word of God brings about faith and new birth.
Paul tells us it is the word of God that brings about the growth of faith which is why Christianity Explored concentrates on looking in depth at a complete gospel, the gospel of Mark. ‘So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.’ Romans 10:17 Peter tells us it is the living word of God generating new birth and abides in us as we continue our life in the kingdom bringing about a growth in holiness and love. ‘Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.[a] 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.’ 1 Peter 1:22-23
The word of God convicts us of our sin and God’s righteousness.
Hebrews describes how the word of God penetrates our conscience with, ‘For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.’ Hebrews 4:12 Paul when writing to Timothy is less poetic and more down to earth in expressing similar sentiments, ‘All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.’ 1 Timothy 3:16
The word of God is life sustaining for those in the kingdom of God.
It was Jesus himself who compared the word of God to staple food, essential for healthy spiritual life, as he rebuked the devil. ‘But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’ Mathew 4:4 Jeremiah expressed how God’s word was a constant source of joy in his life. ‘Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.’ Jeremiah 15:16
The word of God causes the kingdom to multiply.
The Acts of the Apostles is an extended account of how the early church continued to grow in numbers and across the world. It did so as the early Christians devoted themselves to the ministry of the word of God. It started with Peter’s first sermon as he described how the whole of the Old Testament pointed to the coming of Jesus and how the hearers should repent and believe in Jesus for their salvation. This continued throughout Acts. In Ephesus Paul spent two years, three months preaching, teaching and debating. Many were healed and alongside this great opposition arose following when some Jews who practised sorcery repented and destroyed their valuable scrolls used in sorcery. Luke records, ‘So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.’ Acts 19.20
How much do we value and include the word of God in our life?
Have we seen the word of God cause ourselves to grow and flourish?
How devoted is our church to the ministry of the word?
Amy Grant – Thy Word