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Lenten Devotion

March 7, 2023

All Day

Mark 4:31-34

31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

This is the last of several parables Jesus told while teaching the multitude gathered by the Sea of Galilee. Jesus spoke in parables to the people, but to his disciples he later explained them. After Jesus concludes his teaching he sets off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. While at sea, a mighty storm arises, Jesus is asleep, but the disciples are frightened and wake him. He immediately calms the storm.

According to the ESV Bible, the mustard seed was the smallest agricultural seed in ancient Palestine. Jesus even calls it the smallest of all seeds on earth. It appears small, weak and insignificant. Yet, given the right conditions it will grow into a large and mighty tree that offers shelter to many birds.

Likewise, the beginnings of the kingdom of God may seem small and insignificant. Jesus was born into a simple family and even falsely considered Mary’s illegitimate son (Mark 6:3). He wasn’t born into a palace but was placed in a manger. (Luke 2:7) Many Jews expected the Messiah to come and immediately establish Israel as a strong military and political power. Yet this is not what God intended.

In Mark 1:15, Jesus started by preaching the following: “‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’”

The kingdom has come and it starts with Jesus preaching to and healing common people. What is more, Jesus is killed and many of his followers wonder if his kingdom has come to an end. But three days later Jesus rises from the dead, proving his victory over sin and death. One day Jesus will come back and the glory of the kingdom of God will be visible to all, just like the mustard tree that grows into the largest of all garden plants. While on earth, Jesus only had a few hundred followers, but at the end of time “every knee will bow, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Philippians 2:10-11)

Prayer: Thank you Jesus for your Word. God, we stand in awe before your grand plan to reconcile us with you and we marvel at the humble beginnings. Thank you for promising to come back and to establish your glorious kingdom. Thank you for giving us the Holy Spirit who leads, comforts and encourages us. Reign in us and be our Lord, Jesus. Fill us with joy as we eagerly await your return and the completion of your kingdom.

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