18 December Luke 13: 18–21
Opposite the tomb of Lazarus in Bethany was a stall selling three little pots – frankincense, myrrh and what appeared to be dried currants – labelled as mustard seed. Much larger that the mustard seed grown on blotting paper at school all those years ago. I couldn’t see why Jesus labelled this as the smallest of seeds – until much later I moved my purchase from my shelf. In the bottom of the plastic pot was grey dust.
Suddenly I realised – these were the mustard seeds. The ‘currants’ were actually shells containing uncountable seeds. Jesus’ parable did make sense. There were enough seeds there to cover my entire garden with shrubs big enough for birds to shelter. A local farmer warned that you don’t plant this on a windy day!
Luke then introduces the comparison with yeast. Who would dream that just a teaspoonful is needed for a whole loaf. Jesus and his followers were such a small group. Who would think that from such a tiny, seemingly unimportant beginning, the world wide church and all the Christian influence down through the centuries would develop? There was though, something unique here which we continue to celebrate today.
Was the crucifixion of Jesus something like the shattering into countless fragments of his Spirit-filled life? Transformed by God and scattered far and wide by the wind of the Spirit those fragments became myriads of tiny seeds of faith which grew and continue to grow into the world-wide movement we call the church, as indestructible through human wickedness as that God-filled life which continues to inspire us?
It is so true that God’s apparent foolishness and weakness are infinitely stronger than human wisdom and strength. Thanks be to God!