Vacation Bible School is in session in June for many churches. One of many lessons given to children is the power of the mustard seed; of having faith in Jesus that can grow into a mighty tree. It is a good and proper message.
But there is more to it. Ezekiel gives us the depth we need to understand the fullness of the mustard seed.
Adonai Elohim says, ‘From the top of this tall cedar, from its highest branch, I will take a shoot and plant it myself on a high and prominent mountain. CJB FIRST: God will do the heavy lifting. We Americans have read too many “pull myself up by my bootstraps” stories. We believe God chose us to be bigger, smarter, stronger and richer than others. We believe “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
Why should God pluck that one small sprig from the top of the tree when an American could just as easily climb the tree and get it for Him?
The tree God is growing has no room for gung-ho American can-do attitude. It is the tree of mercy for those who will give up all that attitude; for those who cannot do it themselves; for those who are lost and hopeless.
I will plant it on the highest mountain in Isra’el, where it will put out branches, bear fruit, and become a noble cedar. CJB It is the tree of Israel, the tree we have been invited to join, to be grafted onto and into. God alone does the grafting. There is nothing I can do to earn it. I am a walking worthless lump of dirt. But….
Under it will live all kinds of birds; winged creatures of every description will live there in the shadow of its branches. CJB For reasons we will probably never understand, God wants us, even as we disappoint Him. All he asks in exchange is to accept His Gift, His Mercy upon us.
Good news for the gung-ho, once we are grafted to the tree, God’s tree, we will want to do those things God asked us to do. We will smile for those who are sad, visit those who are lonely, touch the untouchable, seek those who are lost, feed the hungry, care for the wounded, shelter the homeless. We will not be able to help ourselves, we will follow Jesus wherever he goes.
Then all the trees of the field will know that I, Adonai, bring down the tall tree and raise up the low tree, wither the green tree and make the withered tree bear fruit. I, Adonai, have spoken; and I will do it. CJB Jesus put it bluntly in Mark 9:34-35: They were silent, for on the way they had been arguing about who should be the greatest. Jesus sat down and called the twelve, and said to them, “If any man wants to be first, he must be last and servant of all.” Phillips To be a branch on the tree, I must give up my plush American life and become a slave to all.
Be righteous and do good.