June 14, 2009
Proper 6 (B)
?In the summer of 1837, the American ship Morrison sailed into Yedo Bay, Japan. On board were three men hoping to be the first Christian missionaries to Japan. But the powerful Satsuma Clan opened fire on the western ship and drove it away. Not until 1859 and after a treaty with Japan were missionaries allowed to enter the country. That year seven missionaries representing four mission societies began their work. I wonder if any of them knew how God would bless their work so that now Japan sends many Christian missionaries to other lands including America.
Our text features two parables. Their essential features are the same. In one, the farmer scatters his seed and goes about his business day and night while the seed sprouts and grows whether he is awake or asleep. In the other, the tiny mustard seed grows to become the largest herb in the garden. It grows to the size of a tree that would attract birds to come and build their nest and feed and rest there. The message of these two parables centers around the same wonderful truth. There is a mysterious power in the kingdom of God, and it will inevitably prevail.
I. There is a mysterious power in God’s kingdom (
The kingdom is God’s kingdom, and the power of the kingdom is God’s power. God may use man to plant the seed, but after that there is not much to do but wait. As James said, “Be patient, then, brothers … See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains” (
Helmut Thielicke, the outstanding German theologian and preacher cut to the heart of our text. “The one fixed pole in all the bewildering confusion is the faithfulness and dependability of God.” When your work seems too large for you to handle, when your burdens seem too many and your resources seem too few, it is wonderful to remember that there is Someone at work in this world who is infinitely larger than you and all your problems.
II. It is a power that will inevitably prevail (
In the first parable, grain is broadcast in the field. In this second one, a single tiny seed is planted in the garden. In either case the power of the growth is in the seed not in the planter. “When planted, it grows” (
A hungry child in the Orient watches in disbelief as his father broadcasts the last bag of grain in their flooded fields. Mother could make bread with that grain! But it grows. God will see to it. The seed will poke a stalk out of the mud and break the surface of the water. That stem will reach for the sun. In time a head will form and a cluster of kernels will fatten. Leave it alone. In God’s time it will ripen to harvest.
Like a child, we stare at a tree and say, “I don’t see it growing.”
“Never mind that,” God says, “It grows.”