Lamps, Mustard Seeds & Birds of the Air

And Jesus said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? 22 For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. 34 He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.  Mark 4:21-34


This is no mustard tree, but these are birds of the air nesting in the branches of this tree at Brazos Bend State Park. Photo taken January 2017

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape. You don’t curse in front of your grandmother. You don’t pick a fight with someone who is bigger than you. You don’t buy a new car just because your old one runs out of gas. What would you add to that list? Jesus asks, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand?” The obvious answer is, “No.” There are things you just don’t do.

So why would anyone keep quiet about God’s work in their life? Why would a person not shout it from the mountaintops if Jesus has healed, saved, transformed or changed his or her world? Furthermore God deeply wants to shape your life and give you the joy of bearing fruit.

The greatest fruit we can bear is that of passing along the Good News of God’s love in Jesus so that another lost soul believes and is saved. The most wonderful way we can honor God is by declaring before others what he has done for us. When we sow such seeds of praise, love, and witness, we are opening up the rule and reign of God to others whom God will call into his eternal glory.

Why wouldn’t we do that? It may be that we are embarrassed; we don’t want to call attention to ourselves, or look like a fool because of God’s work in our lives. It could be that we really don’t want others to horn in on our territory – re-shaping our way of think and doing church or anything else. It may be that we believe only certain kinds of people ought to be under the rule and reign of Christ.

Jesus, however, speaks of a growing realm from the tiniest of seeds to a large mustard tree in which the birds of the air make their nests. That is a symbol of the expansive reach of God’s grace, the breadth of his love, and the life-changing nature of his rule and reign in our hearts. There is a celebration in heaven whenever a sinner repents. That truth is worth considering, seeking to understand, and applying to our lives day by day.

  1. Tevan said:

    That is a great state part! I have been there, but it’s been a number of years. When I was still working at the Criminal Courthouse downtown, I met an older African-American defense lawyer originally from southern Louisiana in the cafeteria (I would treat myself on Fridays to a breakfast taco). He was divorced and his adult daughter was gone. So he said he had spent many a Friday night at this state park, staying overnight, watching nature. He said it really helped him to reconnect with God after a crazy workweek downtown talking with crazy defendants who didn’t want to take his advice.

  2. dlbpandp said:

    Thanks Tevan! Hope you get to enjoy it some time soon.

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