What is this “kingdom” that Jesus speaks of so often, usually in parables? (If you aren’t reading the comments, click here to read Eddy Efaw’s comment yesterday on the power of parables still today in our image-rich culture — it’s worth the extra minute.)
- The kingdom is a message that varies in effect based on the heart-soil of the hearer (4:1-20)
- The kingdom is meant to be shown to everyone around, like a lamp on a stand (4:21-22)
- The kingdom is a system of infinite generosity, if you will be a conduit of blessing (4:24-25a)
- The kingdom has within itself the power to grow without human aid, if simply planted and received (4:26-29)
- The kingdom can grow from the smallest of beginnings to the greatest harbor of life and protection (4:30-32)
Note that once again this kingdom is described as a here-and-now reality, at least in its beginning.
As with most teachers I know, my favorite verses of all in this chapter are the following:
Once upon a time a man sowed seed on the ground. Every night he went to bed; every day he got up; and the seed sprouted and grew without him knowing how it did it. (4:26b-27)
I think for those of us who teach — school, Sunday School, or our own children — these words are both humbling and reassuring. Spiritual growth ultimately does not depend completely upon us. Thankfully.