Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:10-17, 31-32
Jesus is talking to the crowds, but His words are really meant for the disciples. He is telling stories which may have meant something to the people, with common enough references and familiar contexts. But the secrets of the kingdom, the truth within those stories, are given to those whose eyes could see and whose ears could hear.
Each picture, each story must have given the disciples yet another glimpse of the Kingdom; but they must have been confusing too. The Kingdom that Jesus was bringing was probably not what they were expecting. Little did the disciples understand that Jesus’ Kingdom, begun through ministry and established through the cross, would change their world. Even more, it would turn their world upside down. And, amazingly, in that chaos of change, would be reconciliation and peace.
The parable of the mustard seed is as small as the seed itself; like the seed, this little parable is full of potential for growth. And like the mustard seed, growth happens for a purpose. The mustard tree may not be the biggest, but it is a plant with a purpose. The listeners’ first thought might have been about how the tree is good (with its oil, spice and healing properties), but Jesus focuses on the birds. The birds perch in the shade of the tree. They are drawn to it. The tree is a place of blessing and safety for the birds. Like the tree, God’s Kingdom is about community and peace.
And like the mustard seed, the Kingdom is created from the small and insignificant. It is almost counter-intuitive to expect a large tree from a tiny seed. But the tree from the mustard seed was more like a weed, forbidden in the gardens of Palestine because it could easily overtake an entire garden.
A mustard plant makes sense, though. Why would Jesus compare His Kingdom to a something like mighty oak when Jesus Himself is its foot- washing, donkey-riding leader, who told secrets to fishermen and hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors? Yet through His death and triumphant resurrection, Jesus ushers peace into this Kingdom of chaos, and creates a new culture of a kingdom that just doesn’t fit with expectations or the culture of that day.
If, as Jesus says, the tiny mustard seed is like the Kingdom, it needs a sower, someone who believes in the potential of the small, insignificant and ordinary. Together, sower and seed and the Holy Spirit work to grow a Kingdom that is communal, counter-cultural and created through the insignificant.
Deacons, in your corner of the Kingdom, you are called to be the sower. A mustard seed reveals its potency when crushed; joining God in building this Kingdom will not be easy. But it can bring the peace and shalom of community, and it can create a powerful vision of something different that the world has rarely sees –something the world desperately needs.
It starts with the insignificant: a phone call, a “hand up,” a partnership. So deacons, sow your seed. And bring the peace of Christ in your corner of the Kingdom.