The Seed of the Kingdom
I love oak trees - big, giant oak trees. They grow up to 70 feet in height and up to 9 feet in width (the trunk). Their branches can create a canopy 135 feet wide. They are beautiful, noble, living, pictures of strength and resilience. What's both inspiring and difficult to wrap our minds around is that all of that oak glory comes from one small acorn.
Seeds are powerful because they create a multiplying effect. One oak can produce 2,000 acorns every year. Many oaks live 200 years, which means that in a lifetime, one oak tree might produce 400,000 acorns. Wow!
But it's also important that oak trees are very productive in producing seeds, because only one acorn in 10,000 will become a tree. Most acorns never reproduce, they never produce trees and are therefore unfruitful.
In Luke 8:4-15, Jesus told a parable about a sower who sows seed. Out of all the seed sown, only that which falls in good soil produces fruit. The problem is not the seed - the seed is the Word of God (Luke 8:11). The difference between fruitfulness and no fruit is the condition of the soil. And the soil represents our hearts.
- Some hearts are resistant to God's word, like seeds that never penetrate the ground, it just sits on hard ground and bears no fruit.
- Some hearts seem receptive, but this is superficial: they embrace God's word to a degree but don't let it in to the deep places where it can take root and bring transformation.
- Some hearts receive the seed of the word but also receive other seeds - the seeds of weeds that grow up and choke the word and kill it. Jesus describes these weeds as the cares of this life, pleasure, and riches. The word ends up dying because of all the competition.
- Finally, there is good soil that receives the seed and lets its roots go deep.
The seed - the word of God's kingdom - is life-changing, if we receive it and let it go deep in our hearts. Jesus tells us in Luke 8:15 that the right response to the word is to hear it, receive it and hold it fast, patiently letting it work in our lives.
In Luke 8:1 we learn that this message - the seed Jesus was sowing - was called the gospel of the kingdom. Jesus preached good news that anyone could come into God's kingdom if they repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:14-15).
God's vision for our lives is that we grow strong like an oak tree. That happens when we make room for the seed - the word of the kingdom - and let it take root in our lives and grow. Rather than being dominated by the cares of life, the pursuit of pleasure, or the acquisition of stuff, Jesus invites us to prioritise his kingdom. We do that by receiving his word and submitting to his Lordship.
The good news for us is that we don't receive the kingdom as a whole, we receive it by giving the seed a place in our hearts. You can't swallow an oak tree, but you can eat an acorn. In the same way, prioritise the seed of God's word in your life and see what happens!