Daily office commentary, Mark 4:3-32; the generous abundance of the Kingdom

3-8 “Listen. What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled among the weeds and nothing came of it. Some fell on good earth and came up with a flourish, producing a harvest exceeding his wildest dreams. …

24-25 “Listen carefully to what I am saying—and be wary of the shrewd advice that tells you how to get ahead in the world on your own. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes.”

26-29 Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reapsharvest time!

30-32 “How can we picture God’s kingdom? What kind of story can we use? It’s like a pine nut. When it lands on the ground it is quite small as seeds go, yet once it is planted it grows into a huge pine tree with thick branches. Eagles nest in it.”

Mark 4:3-25, The Message Bible

While I have read these parables many times before, this time through I noticed the frequent usage of words that bring to mind images of… bigness, expansiveness, generosity, liberality, abundance, overflowing. I bolded these words in the passage above.

Many theological stories and images may lead one to think that God is “stingy” (v. 25), withholding blessings and love on conditions of righteousness, behavioral rectitude, moral purity, worthiness, etc.

Here, though Jesus teaches us that the Kingdom can be characterized by images that point to just the opposite: the Kingdom is one of abundance, of flourishing, of dreaming, of harvesting, of giving, of sprouting, of growing into ever-increasing love, goodness, compassion, and oneness.

How might we practice the Kingdom in our lives? How might we be an agent for overflowing expansiveness, of liberal abundance?

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