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The Rev. William Klock: “Like a Mustard Seed” (Luke 13:10-21)

January 29, 2015

In the sermon “Like a Mustard Seed“, based on Luke 13:10-21, the Rev. William Klock of Living Word REC in British Columbia deals with the questions What does the kingdom of God look like?  And how has it or how will it come?  This certainly has its thought-provoking elements, such as when Fr. Bill talks about the woman healed by Jesus after 18 years’ suffering (Luke 13:10-13) and then addresses the Parable of the Mustard Seed:

Here’s Jesus the Messiah on his way to Jerusalem.  The people got the Son of David part.  They expected the Messiah to storm Jerusalem, to destroy the Romans, and to establish his eternal kingdom there.  The problem is that they had forgotten that the Messiah was also Isaiah’s Suffering Servant, who was to suffer and die for his people in order to establish that eternal kingdom.  And because the Suffering Servant wasn’t part of their vision, they were happy to glorify God in the healing of this woman and so many other individuals, but they just couldn’t see how these things manifested the great coming kingdom.  And this is what Jesus gets at in the two illustrations that follow.  Look at verses 18-19:

He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like?  And to what shall I compare it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

They thought the kingdom was like King David coming in his chariot and striking down the Romans with his sword.  That’s why they just couldn’t get on board with him and his vision of the kingdom.  What he describes is something completely off their radar: the kingdom is like a mustard seed.

This is where Jesus challenges us, too, and our ideas of “Christendom” as something like the Holy Roman Empire or any other empire or country or government in which we Christians somehow capture the power of Caesar to usher in the kingdom.

Maybe it wasn’t so weird for Jesus to describe the kingdom using a tree as a metaphor.  But in those terms they would have thought of the kingdom as one of the famed cedar trees of Lebanon—the ones used to make the beams of the temple and of David’s palace.  We might be tempted to think of it as being like one of the great oaks outside the windows here.  Or maybe as a mighty redwood tree, with a trunk so big a car can be driven through and top so high you’ve got to lie on your back on the ground to see it.  But that’s not how Jesus describes the kingdom.  No.  Instead it’s like a tiny mustard seed, he says.  Mustard trees—really mustard bushes—aren’t small by any means, but they aren’t particularly large either—certainly nothing like an oak or a cedar or a redwood—but that’s not Jesus’ point.  His point is that kingdom of God comes not by the sword, not by earthly power, not by intrigue and it doesn’t represent the powerful and the privileged.  No, the kingdom of God comes in these small acts that nevertheless manifest the mighty saving power of God.  The kingdom of God comes in the preaching of Good news to the poor, in the giving of sight to the blind, and in the release of captives.  The kingdom of God comes as God humbles himself, takes up our human flesh himself, and dies on a cross for the sins of his people.  The kingdom of God comes as his own people repent in humility, receive his grace, and become, not overlords, but servants—as they seek to serve those still lost in darkness—reaching out even to our enemies with the love of the Saviour.

If you’d like to listen to this message, you can do so below.

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