July 24, 2021

God’s Plan and The Kingdom of God 13-06-2021

13th June 2021 Pentecost 3 (Third Sunday after Pentecost)
God’s Plan and The Kingdom of God
(Scripture Readings: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Mark 4: 26-34)
By Heeyoung Lim

Our pride, arrogance, and self-centeredness often hinder our trust in God. Today’s text invites us to ask God to show us where our pride and self-centeredness are and repent of it so that God can use us in His service.
God had rejected Saul’s leadership because Saul had rejected the word of the Lord. Saul’s disobedience grieved God that He had made Saul the first king, but Samuel mourned for him. One day God had a special plan and job for Samuel. God said to him, “I want you to find a new king.” It was the time for Samuel to stop mourning and start new task given by God in accordance with God’s commands.
When Jesse and his sons arrived at the sacrifice, Samuel was ready to anoint the new king of Israel, but he made a mistake. Samuel was impressed and was sure this was the LORD’s anointed when he saw the tall and handsome oldest Eliab. But he was wrong. Samuel struggled to perceive God’s choice for the one who will succeed Saul in his view, but He obeyed God’s word.
The Lord rejected 7 sons of Jesse. In verse 11-12, Samuel asked Jesse, are these all the sons you have? No, there was one who was tending the sheep. God provided Israel a king for the future through a child shepherd, David. The king should be the man after the Lord’s own heart but, Samuel did not know the intent of God’s heart. Samuel’s mistake leads us to consider that faithful leaders must have the right kind of heart.
Immediately, the Lord told Samuel to arise and anoint David, Jesse’s youngest son was the one. David is selected by the Lord through Samuel as the new king of Israel. Ancient Near Eastern societies generally gave special inheritance rights and leadership roles to the firstborn son. However, God often chose those overlooked and ignored in the society and culture. Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Solomon were younger brothers whom God blessed. The young David was selected from among all Jesse’s sons to be the new king After God rejected Saul as king; God told Samuel to go and anoint a new king, one after God’s own heart. Samuel took the horn of oil and poured its contents on David’s head in the presence of his brothers. (13) David’s anointing is reported in just one verse. David had an extended period of waiting and serving before he begins the reign as king, because there was already a king named Saul. David waited until it was his turn to be king for a long time even after the anointing.
God was not concerned with height or appearance; God’s ways are not our ways. God wants us to have the right kind of heart. God looks at our heart instead of appearance; He chooses us and has plans for our lives. God’s sight does not settle for appearances but looks at the heart. Everything belongs to the Lord. I hope we can trust God’s plans and seek the Lord’s heart on all matters.
Samuel did what the Lord had commanded him. I hope we can all listen to God’s word and live out the gospel. In fulfilling the vocation God has given us, we also have a time of waiting and service, but our sight needs to focus on the reign of God in all our circumstances.
In Mark 4, Jesus tells us the beginning of God’s realm that are like mustard seeds; He teaches a fact that God’s realm grows from the smallest like mustard-seed. Great potential resides in even the smallest. As we live in faith, we are invited to look upon ourselves and the world with spiritual eyes. Trust and faith result in growth.
This story is about a parable of the automatically growing seed and the mustard seed. The parable of the mustard seed is found also in Luke 13:18–19 and Matthew 13:31–32, but the parable of the growing seed is found only in Mark. The “seed” has been defined as “the word” in verse 14 and the expression of “on the ground” occurs three times in these two parables. It is also translated with three different phrases that are “on the soil”, “on earth”, and “throughout the world”. (26, 31, 31) That is, the meaning of God’s realm is deeply connected to our lives in the world. In verse 27, the verbs “sleeps” and “rises” signify a long process, but the one who scatters seeds does not understand the process and can only wait patiently. We do not know how the seed sprouts and grows because the seed grows in secret. Sleeping and getting up in the soil are hidden between seed time and harvest. It is unseen and unobserved but exists and grows.
In today’s text, Jesus describes what the kingdom of God is like. (26) The kingdom of God will come in its fullness when God reigns over the earth. We can also remind of a Bible verse, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). Like the parable of the Sower, this story about the kingdom of God also encourages those who will be sowing God’s word. God is working when we are sowing and scattering God’s word.
Mark insists that while humans are called to “sow” or to “scatter the seed,” the growth is completely up to God. We can be sure that growth is taking place by God’s amazing grace and that his harvest will eventually bear fruit. Verse 30-32 describes what the reign of God is like. The mustard seed was the smallest of all the seeds in Palestine, but it will grow until birds can take shelter in its branches. Small beginnings can yield great outcomes in the view of the kingdom of God. Even if it is small, our faith and love will grow wherever God reigns.
We live in a blessed place where God is found and works in unexpected ways and through unlikely people. Jesus continually revealed His divine power in the Bible, but the purposes and the reasons were totally different with humans. For instance, Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God when people expected that Jesus would overcome Roman’s rule and establish His kingdom on earth. Jesus wanted us to be saved and taught us about the kingdom of God. I pray that the kingdom of God is expanding through all of us.
I believe that we can all learn to trust that all our battle and struggles belong to the Lord. In Christ, strong wind is replaced by great calm and peace in the presence of God. We can ask God for courage to overcome unexpected difficulties we face today. I believe God’s work is happening all around us wherever we can faithfully sow the seed of Christ and where we repent our pride, arrogance, and self-centeredness.
The Word of God continues its dynamic work between individuals and communities. The world sees our appearances and conditions, but God looks at our heart. We can be rejected by the world, but we are chosen by God. That is our happiness and comfort. Let us worship God who looks at the human heart and through Christ Jesus makes all things new.

Thanks be to God. Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)