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January 23 | Matthew 13:31-35


 

DAILY READING



 

REFLECTION


The Kingdom is Like

by Dan Kidd


When his disciples addressed Jesus, they'd often do so by calling him "Rabbi." Rabbi: an itinerant teacher or scholar, especially in Jewish faith and law. One of the primary ways Jesus' people related to him was as their teacher. We see the evidence of Jesus' teaching shot throughout the Gospels. Jesus is constantly instructing through sermons, practical and object lessons, and through parables.


The more I study the parables, the more fascinated I am by Jesus' use of them. Whereas I used to think Jesus intended to use parables to explain complex moral lessons in simple illustrations, I now don't think that's quite right. Instead, it seems that Jesus chose to teach in parables as a strategy to grow the Kingdom's citizenry on a firm and deeply-rooted foundation. In other words, instead of teaching complex morality in simple illustrations, Jesus taught about himself, his ministry, and the Kingdom of God in something like a riddle, and he trusted those with "ears to hear" to interpret him. In fact, the Hebrew word translated "parable" (mashal) is elsewhere translated proverb or riddle. Understood this way, it makes sense that the disciples would ask Jesus why he spoke to the people in parables in Matthew 13:10. They were, I imagine, as confused as I would be that, when Jesus had the opportunity to teach to the crowds, he spoke in riddles or proverbs rather than saying plainly what he meant. Jesus wanted his disciples to be curious, to meditate on his words, and to seek out understanding through and from him.


As we read the parables in today's passage, we pray that the Lord would give us ears to hear them. Notice how Jesus describes the Kingdom in these two parables. First, it starts as tiny as a mustard seed, and then, like the spreading of the reign of King Jesus over the earth, it grows into a large tree, where birds perch amongst the branches. The Kingdom that Jesus said was near, even in his own ministry grew and thrives today. And like the yeast the woman kneaded into her dough, God's Kingdom, subtly permeates and transforms what would be flat and thin into something risen and full.


And isn't that the way of Jesus' Kingdom mission? It began small, with only a few followers, then more, then crowds, then the early Church, and now, centuries later, with multitudes of Kingdom citizens joined together. This is also the way the Kingdom grows in our own lives. Beginning with a small faith, a hint of the aroma of the peace of Paradise, and it grows in us and around us until we long to see the Kingdom everywhere. The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed; like yeast kneaded into dough.


PRAYER

Let it be, Lord, that we would continue to have ears to hear your Word in all its forms. That your Spirit would give us the wisdom to understand you and that our hearts would seek you to know you. Lead us, Lord, to marvel at your Kingdom, and how in its small and unassuming ways it grows, expands, and overcomes the world. And, let that Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us eyes to see that. Thank you, God, for this Kingdom you're cultivating even now.







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1 Comment


robin.lorms
Jan 23

Good morning, Dan. I love parables and often thought what a great way to teach kids about life. I regret as a father not thinking about parables to teach our kids important life lessons. Teacher's roles, among other things, is to make their students think and solve problems. Parables are a wonderful technique and the Master showed us the way.

Thank you for your comments this morning.


Robin Lorms

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