Second Sunday after Trinity Sunday 17.6.12 Mark 4.26-34

30 05 2012

Talking in Parables

We take parables for granted. As if they are merely just the way Jesus chose to get his message across. But parables are not just Jesus’ chosen way of speaking about things. They are more connected with their subject matter than that, They are, in fact, fitting. Like all good stories they are not to be explained but told, entered into, enjoyed, imagined and maybe even imitated. Parables are good listening. It is a travesty if a good parable is followed by a dull, didactic sermon.

Mark 4.26-34

Jesus also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’

English: An etching by Jan Luyken illustrating...

English: An etching by Jan Luyken illustrating Mark 4:30-32 in the Bowyer Bible, Bolton, England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

30 He also said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32yet 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.’

33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

Reflections and Questions

‘The kingdom of God is as if ..’ v26 This introduces Jesus’ priority – the kingdom of God – and the way in which he is going to speak of it – indirectly.

Why does Jesus not speak directly about the kingdom of God? Might it be because it is not actually possible?

‘It is like a mustard seed.’ v 31. It is vital not to think of mustard and cress growing in trays on the window sill. These bushes are BIG.

How does God’s kingdom grow?

‘the birds of the air can make nests in its shade’ v32 The vast bush representing the kingdom of God, is not only for its own sake. It is a hospitable kingdom.

How do you connect ‘hospitality’ and kingdom’?

‘he did not speak to them except in parables’ v34

Let us assume that this is for good reasons – that parables are somehow appropriate for spiritual teaching.

Why not have a go at writing your own parable? (Make it short. 50-75 words is plenty long enough.)