Tony's Reflection 48 


 You would think I might have learned by now. But no…

Queues still frustrate me no end. We have all spent far too much time in queues, over the past year. Queueing to do even the most mundane things, from shopping at the supermarket to fetching medicine from the chemist. Have I learned patience over the past year? Afraid not.

Recently, though, I was caught in a different kind of queue. It was a queue that went indoors and out. It was showery and blustery, so we all got cold and wet. It was a long queue as well. 30 minutes’ worth of queue.

This, though, was a queue with a difference. Most of us were happy and relaxed. Far from my normal grumpy queueing face, I even managed a smile at the lady behind me and a pleasantry with the man in front.

What made the difference? This was a queue to get the Covid vaccination. I am sure we all left with a confident bounce in our step, feeling as protected as modern science can get us. That little thing - a tiny jab, all over in about 30 seconds - makes such a difference.

In today’s episode from Mark’s biography, we see another little thing which makes a huge difference - the seed.

We left off last week, with Jesus sat in a boat, addressing a huge crowd. The sun is beating down, but there is a fresh breeze coming off the lake. Despite the vast numbers there, you can hear a pin drop. The water gently laps against the shore. You hear the mesmerising voice of Jesus, weaving his spell as the crowd stand silent, hanging on every word.

Jesus has just finished telling his stories about the sower, the lamp and the measure. They went unexplained to the crowd. Mark has let us into the secret, though. Unlike the crowd, we have the clues to crack the code of these stories and the ones coming up next.

The same theme is there in all these stories. It was to the foreground in the one about the sower, in the background about the lamp and the measure. In the next two, it is to the fore again. It’s the little thing that makes such a huge difference. The seed.

Code cracked: the seed is God’s message to you. You see, God has a personal message just for you. It’s coming at you as you read these reflections. It will come for you, whenever you open a Bible or hear it explained and ask God to speak through it.

How does that message work and what will it do in you? Let’s find out. Today’s little story (
Mark 4:26-29) takes us back to seed being scattered again, just like the story of the sower.

This time, though, the seed isn’t falling among rocks and thistles, it’s only on good ground. All by itself it grows until eventually, there is a harvest.

Jesus struts around the boat again. He is scattering his seed on good soil. He is utterly and absolutely carefree. The crowd giggle as he mimes scattering the seed. Then he goes off right to the other end of the boat. What’s this? The man is leaving the seed to its own devices. He isn’t coming back to water it. He doesn’t come back to weed.

Jesus looks theatrically into the crowd. “What will happen next?” he asks. “Will this man ever get anything? He hasn’t bothered with his seed at all.” The crowd remembers the story of the sower and they are expecting weeds and birds to do their work.

“Is he going to find anything?” he asks the crowd. Jesus sets them chanting, just like a pantomime. “Oh yes he will” … “Oh no, he won’t”. The two rival groups reach a crescendo as Jesus arrives at the spot in the boat where the imaginary seed was planted.

There is a harvest! Jesus throws up his hands in huge delight. The section of the crowd chanting “Oh yes he will” cheers wildly as they have been proven right.  “How about that?! This seed has grown - all by itself!” Jesus trumpets this mini miracle and the crowd bursts into applause.

Another quirky little story and quite a “tale of the unexpected” to coin a phrase. There is a harvest after all… The seed has grown all by itself without any input or help.

As ever, there is more to this than meets the eye. Jesus has thrown in some clues, to get us questioning and going after the hidden treasure. “This is what the kingdom of heaven is like…” he says, right at the start. That is an open invitation to us to ask, “So how is the kingdom of heaven like this seed?”

Let’s get code cracking and find out. We already have the clues we need. From the story of the sower, we know the seed is God’s message to you. It has landed in good soil, which I trust is what you are. So far, so good…

The big surprise in this story is the seed growing all by itself. But then, that is what seeds do when they are in good soil.

God’s message will grow in you. That’s what his word does. So long as you are good soil, it will produce a harvest. You are reading these reflections, along with whatever else you do to take in what God has to say to you. The word is going into you. Harvest will come.

What might the harvest be? An increase in faith, as you trust more in God. An increase in love, as he becomes more precious to you and you realise how precious you have always been to him. An increase in hope, as you know God is putting his strength in you to handle whatever comes your way.
In good soil, seeds grow. In the good soil that I trust is your heart, so will God’s word.

signed Tony