Third Sunday after Pentecost June 14, 2015
In both of the short parables in today’s Gospel, Jesus says some profound things. In one sense, he tells us that the kingdom of God will be what it will be, regardless of what we do. The kingdom of God is comparable to seeds sprouting and growing, because that is what seeds do, regardless of the quality of the farmer. The parable is not about the lazy farmer, but about the seeds that will grow regardless of what the farmer does.
Then there is the well-known “The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.” Most of us have heard this parable explained in terms of the exponential increase in size of the seed growing into a shrub. But what kind of shrub does this seed grow into? The mustard plant was one of those shrubs that none of Jesus’ contemporaries wanted in their garden, because it took over and was hard to get rid of. Jesus basically said, “We can compare the kingdom of God to [insert your least favorite weed] that can and will take over your garden, no matter what you do.”
Where I grew up, we can compare this to kudzu, a vine that was widely used to control erosion in the 1920s and ’30s that has taken over entire fields and mountainsides, and is painfully difficult to remove (it can grow up to a foot a day).
That is a mighty image of God’s kingdom. It is one that employs the most undesirable among us to change the face of our world, no matter what the principalities and powers can throw at them. In these parables, we find Jesus telling us that the kingdom will be made manifest, because it just keeps going, by virtue of what it is. These are words of comfort and encouragement for a world and church full of uncertainty and fear.
Aaron Linville, pastor, Rural Hall Moravian Church, Rural Hall, North Carolina