Jesus Talks in Parables!
Tim: Let’s talk about parables this week.
Shea: Ah, yes, Jesus loves to tell parables. What’s the deal with these?
Tim: Well, they’re more than stories or anecdotes. Whereas many people see them as reversals, I think they’re more than that?
Shea: What do you mean?
Tim: Parables don’t simply reverse the social order; they do so while also establishing that reversal as the new norm. In this way, they are a dis-course, that is, meant to set us off one course and on another!
Shea: Interesting. Can we try one? Let’s do the Parable of the Mustard Seed from Mark 4:30-34.
Tim: Of course. Here Jesus is telling a parable about the message of the Kingdom of God (gospel) as the mustard seed. It begins with a tiny seed, but it grows to be large, and, most importantly, it offers shade and refuge for the birds of the air.
Shea: Okay, but it’s a plant, not a tree. It’s certainly not the largest, right?
Tim: Exactly! You can see something is up here. One of the interesting things about mustard plants is they can grow in a weed-like manner. In other words, when the mustard seed is planted, it grows and takes over. For that reason, planting them was *illegal*. So Jesus is intimating how the gospel message will grow (and take over) by using an illegal practice as his example. Others may think that the mustard seed yields a weed, but Jesus sees what it will be: a tree.
Shea: And what about the whole birds/refuge part?
Tim: I’m glad you asked! This is a continuation of the theme in the Hebrew Bible about the limitless reach of God’s kingdom. Like a tree, God’s kingdom gives refuge, shade, sustenance. If we think about how planting mustard seeds was illegal, then we can begin to see what Jesus is getting at. Farmers have an antagonistic relationship with birds; they typically come in and wreak havoc in the garden. Yet, it is the birds of the air that are welcomed to rest in the “shade” this parable. Thus, God’s kingdom is a shelter for those that are normally driven away (i.e., unwelcomed). Here, once again, we find radical inclusivity!
Shea: Wow, all of that packed into this one short parable? What a timely parable for us today…
Tim: Yes. And this is just one of many! We will be talking about another popular parable this week in our study Thursday night.
Shea: I cannot wait!
Join us this Thursday at L!VE Café, 163 S. Oak Park Avenue in Oak Park. Doors open at 7:00p, the study begins at 7:30p. If you can’t be with us in person, join us via Facebook Live.
We need your help!
As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
Summer is the perfect time for a “walking tour” of Mark’s Gospel. The oldest and shortest of the Gospels, Mark is full of amazing details that capture the life and ministry of Jesus in fascinating ways. Mark’s Jesus is a man on a mission without much patience for folks who can’t keep up. He says exactly what’s on his mind. And the writer tells the Jesus story in an action-packed style overflowing with mysterious touches. Why is there no Christmas chapter? Why is Jesus so tough on the disciples? Why can’t they see who he really is? Why are the women afraid to tell the news of the Risen Christ? And what’s up with that naked man in Gethsemane (among other peculiarities)?
Join us every Thursday from June 7-August 30, as we spend the summer touring Mark’s Gospel. It will be a trip well worth taking!
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.