Jesus spoke to the people in parables about the reign of God. He compared it to the plant life that was all around them, to wheat fields and mustard plants. The growth of the reign of God in the world is like a plant that may start out small but can grow and become a magnificent place for shelter. It happens like the farmer who plants the seed but the growth comes when he is not looking. He participates in it but he doesn't know how it actually happens. The growth comes and he participates in and enjoys the result, but he does not control it, nor can he make it happen on his own.
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Oscar Wilde penned a powerful story about behaviors and definitions and justice called The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian was a handsome young man, a model of physical beauty and moral virtue. People complimented him on his good graces. Parents pointed to him as an example to their youth. One artist even painted an exquisite portrait of him.
"Have you seen it?" whispered the Barbie doll to her next door neighbour.
The next Barbie doll in line was instantly alert. There were five different Barbie dolls, who lived jumbled together in the toy cupboard but who were so jealous of each other that they rarely spoke. "Seen what?" asked the second Barbie doll, blue eyes darting all round the room.
"The Princess," replied the first Barbie with glee. "Caitlin's done her hair and it looks terrible!"
These verses from Mark's gospel are a call to commitment, a call to sacrifice, and a call to give up everything of earthly value in life. To say these are difficult verses is truly an understatement. It is pretty clear that the disciples are not at all ready for what Jesus is saying. They are not ready for Jesus to die and they certainly are not ready to die themselves.