Luke 13:18-19 (NIV) Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.”
Jesus’ likening of the kingdom of God to a mustard seed is very appropriate. In Jesus’ day, the kingdom of God was extremely small. In fact, it could reasonably be argued that God’s kingdom at that point in Jesus’ ministry consisted of Jesus alone, a single seed, with hundreds of wannabes hanging around, waiting to get in.
Once Jesus died, rose again, ascended to heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the kingdom grew in an instant to 120, then the same day to over 3,000! And it just kept growing from there until it filled the earth.
Some people believe that Jesus saying that the kingdom was like a mustard seed means that it will always be a small and insignificant portion of the world’s population. But that philosophy ignores the second half of Jesus’ parable. The small size of the mustard seed before it is planted fails to convey the explosive growth potential contained inside. The seed is designed to not stay small, but to grow into a plant almost infinitely greater than its original size, producing billions of additional seeds, and drawing birds from all over to nest in its branches.
Of course, to do the work of growing and multiplying that it was designed to do, the seed cannot simply sit there, taking pride in its smallness. Instead, like a grain of wheat, it must fall to the ground and die (John 12:24). Those who embody the kingdom must lay down their own lives as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2), take up the cause of the kingdom as their life’s focus, as Jesus did, and let God use them as He wishes to grow the kingdom in their area into a massive and very fruitful tree.
Father, we forget the old saying, “Good things come in small packages.” Looking at a mustard seed, we would never be able to envision the massive tree that can spring from it. And looking at the Church in North America today, it is difficult to see how it could ever become significant, and a powerful force in our nation again. But You have packed tremendous potential into Your people that, if we allow You to work in and through us, can result in not only explosive growth, but in a powerful impact in our communities and in our nation as well. Oh, Lord, make it so! Amen.