Mark 4:26-34 (NIRV)
The Story of the Growing Seed
26Jesus also said, “Here is what God’s kingdom is like. A farmer scatters seed on the ground. 27Night and day the seed comes up and grows. It happens whether the farmer sleeps or gets up. He doesn’t know how it happens. 28All by itself the soil produces grain. First the stalk comes up. Then the head appears. Finally, the full grain appears in the head. 29Before long the grain ripens. So, the farmer cuts it down, because the harvest is ready.”
The Story of the Mustard Seed
30Again Jesus said, “What can we say God’s kingdom is like? What story can we use to explain it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32But when you plant the seed, it grows. It becomes the largest of all garden plants. Its branches are so big that birds can rest in its shade.”
33Using many stories like these, Jesus spoke the word to them. He told them as much as they could understand. 34He did not say anything to them without using a story. But when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything.
Object: Birthday cake mix and ingredients needed to make a cake or cupcakes. (This may be easier done virtually from your kitchen than in person. If you are in person, think about showing a video clip of you preparing the cake, if you have video capabilities.)
Message: Jesus used parables when he preached and taught about God. A parable is a story that uses objects that people understand. That’s why when Jesus spoke about sheep, he knew that everyone who listened knew what a sheep or shepherd was. There are parables about sheep. There are parables about farming and the soil. This parable is about a seed.
Since many of us are not farmers or shepherds here today, I want to tell you a parable that we all can understand: the parable of the cake mix. We all know what birthday cakes are, don’t we? (Allow children to respond.) We all know what they are supposed to look like. Sometimes they look like the picture on the box, but sometimes they might not turn out that way. When we start to make a cake, we need to follow the recipe; we also need to add some more ingredients than what is in the box.
A good cake needs to be mixed well with eggs and water so that when it is put in the oven, it grows. (Read and show the children other things needed before you put the cake in the oven.) When you put the cake in the oven, it takes time to bake. Waiting for the cake to bake is hard, isn’t it? (Allow children to respond.) The cake gets bigger and grows, even when no one is watching.
Baking a cake takes many ingredients. It also must be cooked for a while; sometimes it seems like a long while, in a hot oven. Baking a cake also takes patience. It takes time for the cake to bake and even longer to cool before we can frost it and eat it.
Growing as a disciple also takes many ingredients. What are some ingredients in growing as a disciple? (Let children respond.) That’s right, ingredients like going to church, reading and studying your Bible, prayer time with God, showing and telling others of God’s love are all good ingredients to add when making a disciple. You also must add God’s power. Growing doesn’t happen just because of the ingredients we put into it; it requires the often unseen power of God.
When we bake a cake for others, we usually do so because we love them. When we do this, we are also telling them that God loves them too, because we are showing God’s love to other people.
The next time you help make a cake, remember that the mix starts as this small powder, but when mixed with other ingredients and baked over time, it turns into this wonderful tasting dessert. That’s a lot like our faith. When we tell others that God loves them, we are mixing the cake of faith, and God makes that faith grow.
It is amazing to watch how a cake is made. A small box of mix can grow into a tasty cake. We may not think our faith is very big, but just like this box of cake mix, with God’s help, our faith grows. It will grow into something big and strong that can help others.
Prayer: Loving and faithful God, thank you for the gift of faith. Help us to bake cakes for others by showing your love to one another, so that you can grow the faith in their lives as well.