Matthew 13:31-32 (NIV) He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.
In the days when the exiles returned from Babylon and laid the foundation of the new temple, many were dismayed, because it seemed so insignificant compared to the grandeur of Solomon’s temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians (Haggai 2:3). But God promised His people that glory of the temple that they were building would greatly exceed the glory of the former one (Haggai 2:9). At around the same time, God told His people that they were to not despise the day of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10 KJV) with regard to the new temple. It is impossible to look at the start of something and to see the greatness that God can produce from it.
A mustard seed is a perfectly apt analogy for this. Even though a mustard seed looks insignificant compared to other seeds, such as corn or wheat, the plant that grows from it can be many times larger than those that grow from the larger seeds, and can easily produce many times more seeds than they can.
Jesus used this analogy for the kingdom of God. At the time that Jesus left the world, He only had about 120 devoted followers (cf. Acts 1:15) whom He tasked with taking the gospel of the kingdom to the whole world. Compared to the task, the beginnings of the Church seemed woefully inadequate.
But one should never look at the beginnings, and then determine what is possible Just a few days later, on the day of Pentecost, God accomplished a mighty miracle, and in a single day, the Church grew to more than 3,120 people. From such small beginnings, great things were already starting to happen.
In God’s kingdom, a single person can be the catalyst for dozens, hundred, or even thousands of changed lives. And that person doesn’t have to be a pastor or a PhD theologian. God can work through the great and the lowly, through the rich and the poor, through the weak and the powerful to accomplish great things. All that it requires is for a person to place themselves entirely in His hands, to live their lives for Him in the power of the Holy Spirit, and amazing, even miraculous things can be done through them to grow God’s kingdom, until it fills the whole earth.
Father, we do often look at ourselves, and instantly discount what can be accomplished through us for Your kingdom. We make the excuse that the world is so large, and I am only one person. But we forget Jesus’ illustration about the mustard seed. Help me, Lord, to have faith, not in what I can do, but what You can do in and through me to grow Your kingdom, and to reach more people with the good news. Amen.