Monday, March 19, 2012



In the 13th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew Jesus shifts gears in His teaching style. He begins teaching by the use of short stories with a point. They are called parables.
He made this shift after the major rejection of Him and His message by the religious leadership. Jesus was riding high for a while. Those who were following Him believed their "candidate" for King and His Kingdom were going to win out. Now, they were hoping His Kingdom was going to put an end to the Roman domination. With this massive rejection of Jesus, His followers were concerned about the momentum of the Jesus movement being stifled. So, they were asking the question, "What will happen to the Kingdom now, with this rejection?"

By the use of 8 parables Jesus answers this question and gives them some sense of what the Kingdom is going to look like from now on. The heart of these parables that describe the Kingdom are the sower and the soils, the mustard seed and the leaven.

The sower and the soils demonstrate the primary activity of the Kingdom and that is the sowing of the seed. Jesus defines four different soil samples and gives a great visual to how the seed either becomes fruitful or not.

With the mustard seed, the smallest of seeds, Jesus expresses how a small seed is able to grow into a large and strong bush. This will be the nature of the Kingdom's incredible, almost invisible growth. He explains how a woman can introduce a little bit of yeast or leaven into a large lump of dough and the entire lump is permeated. With this visual Jesus is showing how irreversible the growth of the Kingdom is.

Out of all 8 of the parables in this teaching of Jesus about the Kingdom, there really is only one activity. That activity is the sowing of the seed. So, what is the seed and who is doing the sowing?

In the 8th chapter of the Gospel of Luke Jesus says, "The seed is the word of God." In the Matthew 13 passage Jesus says, "Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When people hear the message about the Kingdom." So far, Jesus is saying that the seed is the word of God and that word is equal to the message about the Kingdom.

In the 4th chapter of the Gospel of Mark Jesus speaks about the sowing of the seed on the four soil samples: "The word is sown beside the road. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop-some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown." This passage reinforces the sowing of the word of God as the seed.

Now check out later in Matthew 13: Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom." Now note what Jesus does here. Jesus, the Son of Man, is the sower of the seed. AND, the seed stands for the people of the Kingdom-those who are the Kingdom kids-the followers of the King-the followers of Jesus!

Here's what I want to stress! The four ways of being and making disciples we have articulated over the last two sessions is all part of the sowing of the seed in the world. Jesus is the sower and the word of God-the message of the Kingdom-the people of the Kingdom-represent the seed that He is sowing into the world.
So, embracing the Jesus lifestyle, loving one another, meeting the needs of the needy and disenfranchised, and loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself all are part of the sowing activity in the Kingdom today.

The takeaway for me is this: DON'T SHARE OR EXPLAIN THE GOSPEL. JESUS IS THE GOSPEL! Jesus says that you are the salt of the earth-the light of the world! And now Jesus is saying that you are the Good News He is sowing into this world. This is all part of the plan of you being in Jesus and Jesus being in you. So, as you go and make disciples of all nations, be the Gospel wherever you go! Be Jesus as you touch the world around you! Can you think of anything more thrilling or meaningful than to be united with Jesus, the best Good News there is in such a bad news world?