The Mustard Seed

What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden; and it grew and became a tree; and the birds of the air nested it its branches. Luke 13.18-19

The parable of the mustard seed is a part of a group called the “Kingdom Parables.” Its purpose is to illustrate the nature of the growth of the kingdom – the church.

Small Beginnings

One of the greatest lessons of the parable is the importance of little things. We live in a “mega” world; things have to be big to be of any value. But Jesus taught that was not necessarily so. He cautioned us to pay attention to small things – like the mustard seed that produces a plant far greater than its size would suggest.

The parable emphasizes the consequences of small beginnings. Most things start out small. Huge buildings begin with just a few bricks. Great symphonies begin with just a few notes. Every piece of literature ever written – book, essay, or poem – is composed of just a few simple letters from an alphabet.

Bricks, notes, and letters by themselves are of little value. However, stack the bricks together by course and bond, and you have a strong shelter. Put the notes together in harmony and rhythm and you have music. Arrange the letters into words, then sentences, and you have communication. Each part, no matter how small, is significant.

Such is the Kingdom of God, the church of our Lord. Christianity is history’s greatest movement, but it began with a baby in a manger. The growth of the first century church continues to amaze us. How, in the space of just a few years, did those early disciples “turn the world upside down” with the message of Christ?

The Relevant Gospel

Certainly there are differences between that time and now. But the Gospel is always relevant – it does not change; nor does human nature. Sin has always been sin. What was sin then is still sin now. There are no old sins that have changed into non-sins. Neither are there any new sins for which new remedies must be designed.

The Gospel, from the first time it was ever preached has been the one and only solution for sin. It was that simple message of salvation that our first century brethren preached throughout the world. They were not intimidated by the task ahead of them. They needed no catchy slogans or gaudy gimmicks to capture the attention of the masses. They felt no need to re-organize the church so that each member was involved in some sort of interaction social group. They were already involved in the great work of evangelism. They had heard the simple message of the Gospel, responded to its call, and then became teachers themselves. They knew what it meant to be “doers of the word and not hearers only” (James 1.22)

When everyone does his or her part, though it may not be spectacular, though it may seem very small and insignificant like the mustard seed, nonetheless it vitally contributes to the whole. It is God, then, who gives the increase. It is God who is glorified.

– Bill