Monday, September 27, 2010

Refuge in the Kingdom

He presented another parable to them: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It's the smallest of all the seeds, but when grown, it's taller than the vegetables and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches."

-Matthew 13:31-32

Jesus told many parables to his disciples to explain to them the nature of the Kingdom. We are all familiar with the parable of the mustard seed. Mustard, in first century Palestine, was a terribly annoying weed. Much like our dandelions, it would easily spread, plaguing an entire landscape with its yellow-flower presence. The mustard that Jesus mentions is no ordinary mustard. Jesus says that the Kingdom is like a small mustard seed that grows into a gigantic tree! Now, normally mustard only grows up to be a small bush of a flower -no where near a tree! But that’s the point. The Kingdom grows up in ways that, from a worldly perspective, are simply impossible. Another interesting thing about this tree is that the birds of the air have come to rest in it. It was recently pointed out to me that birds can be mustard seeds number one enemy. We don’ t often think of seed as being hunted and having predators -but seed is hunted and by birds! So, in this parable the thing that seems to be the biggest threat to the Kingdom ends up finding refuge and shelter in its branches. These birds could represent countless perceived “threats”. People that we may label as dangerous, having a rough background, or different world views than our own, you name it. Jesus is saying here that it is the nature of the Kingdom to become a refuge for what was once seen as a threat. There are people all around us that need to find their place of refuge within God’s Kingdom. May we be sure to extend branches to the people that are in our own lives.

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