Formations lesson for March 2: The Gospel and Storytelling
February 14 2003 by David Stratton , Mark 4:26-32

Formations lesson for March 2: The Gospel and Storytelling | Friday, Feb. 14, 2003

Friday, Feb. 14, 2003

Formations lesson for March 2: The Gospel and Storytelling

By David Stratton Mark 4:26-32

The kingdom of God is like a boy eating breakfast. The cereal and the juice cause his body to grow. He does not know how all of this works but he'll be back for lunch.

The kingdom of God is like tiny electrons we cannot see. Yet these invisible particles wind their way through strands of copper to light our homes, televisions, computers and microwaves.

Jesus never really gave a dictionary definition of the kingdom of God. Instead, he taught His followers the nature of the rule of God by telling stories that are called parables.

A study of the life of Jesus would not be complete without an examination of His stories and His storytelling. Just beyond our passage is a verse stating that Jesus never said anything to His followers without using parables (Mark 4:34). Certainly we must strive to learn the lessons of Jesus' stories. Beyond this, should we not also follow the storytelling example of our Lord?

A very large crowd gathered to listen to Jesus according to the opening verses of Mark 4. Verse 2 tells us that Jesus chose to teach that great mass of people through storytelling. This lesson is taken from the last two parables recorded in the chapter.

A story of action and mystery

The parable of Mark 4:26-29, which is the only one unique to this gospel, presents a mystery sandwiched between two pictures of action. A farmer sows seed and later harvests the crop - actions belonging to the nature of that vocation. Between these two acts the farmer witnesses the wonder of plants sprouting and growing and bearing a harvest. Whether sleeping or waking the growth continues as if someone unseen were helping the farmer to achieve the goal.

In verse 27 Jesus is specific in saying that the farmer does not understand how all of this works. Yet, unanswered questions do not cause this agriculturalist to leave the seed and the sickle in the barn. The farmer gets involved and receives a blessing even though there remains much mystery.

A story of the smallest taking over

The parable of Mark 4:30-32 is a glimpse into the way the rule of God works. Jesus indicates that the kingdom works like the mustard seed that was considered the smallest seed commonly planted in the gardens of that culture. Yet, that tiny seed slowly grew into the largest plant in the garden.

The kingdom of God is not like a bulldozer clanking along on heavy tracks, noisily and quickly uprooting trees. Rather it is like a tiny seed that can barely be seen that slowly and silently becomes the plant that towers over the garden. The kingdom of God does not advance through power plays. Rather it achieves its goal through far more lowly and subtle means.

Telling the stories

of a surprising kingdom

Jesus' stories describe a kingdom far different from the kingdoms of this world. Rulers of business and government tend to rally the people by saying that they have the answers.

Jesus, on the other hand, told the story of a kingdom in which subjects witness a wonderful mystery as they get involved in kingdom work.

Rulers of business and government tend to get their way by wielding their power. Yet Jesus told the story of a kingdom that reveals its transforming power through humble and understated means.

In his book Spirit, Word and Story, Calvin Miller wrote: "The whole world loves a story ... and a storyteller" (p. 175). Our love of the storyteller named Jesus leads us to do more than allow His stories to transform our own lives. We must also tell others the stories of His surprising kingdom.

Miller stated: "In the wake of Christ's great once upon a time, no man or woman will be left the same. Earth will be made better, heaven will be populated by His story, and, glory of glory, we are called to be its tellers. We shall be heralds of hope in a day of cultural desperation, sentinels who reply to the emptiness of our time" (p. 193).

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2/14/2003 12:00:00 AM by David Stratton , Mark 4:26-32 | with 0 comments
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