Daily Devotion – June 7, 2021 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

Mark 4:26-34
4:26 He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground,
4:27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.
4:28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head.
4:29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
4:30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it?
4:31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;
4:32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
4:33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it;
4:34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

Jesus has come to make the Kingdom of God known more clearly to humankind. He has chosen some disciples and called them to help him with his work and to carry it on once he is gone, for his personal ministry cannot last forever.

How does one make the Kingdom of God known? One can point to instances of it that are visible, and one can liken it to other things that people know well and say, “Yes, it’s a lot like this. The Father works a lot like that. The blessings are a lot like when this happens.”

Jesus must have had an ingenious way of knowing which analogies would work with his particular hearers on any given day. It is a true art form, teaching by analogy, one I have aspired to my entire life in the classroom. And when you find the right analogy, light bulbs go on all over the place. To understand what would work, Jesus must have listened well to people first. He must have watched them for their joys and their pain and then used those experiences to teach them.

Thinking of your best teachers from your childhood, or thinking about people you learn from even now, how is it that they are effective teachers? How do they help us learn rather than hammering something home to us? It is an important question, because that very activity, teaching others about God’s Kingdom, is what each of us is called to do, for the good of the neighbor. We are not called to be the sort of evangelists who hammer a point at others. We are called to meet our friends and neighbors right where they are, in the midst of their lives. How will you teach? How will you watch and listen first to a person you know who is joyful or suffering? Being there with a good word is our calling as disciples of Jesus. How will you do it?

Gracious God, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for giving us ears to listen and eyes to watch for our neighbor. Grant us the chance to speak of the Kingdom of God in such a way as to let them understand the truth.  Amen.