He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32
I’m not much of a plant person. I like plants, but I haven’t mastered the skill of keeping them alive. In spite of that, we have an orchid in our living room. My husband is the one to keep it alive, so every now and then, when I glance over in the plant’s direction, I’m shocked at how much it’s grown! What started out as a tiny shoot is, little by little, growing into a flowering plant almost without me noticing.
In two sentences, Jesus gives us a similar picture of the unstoppable growth of the Kingdom with the parable of the mustard seed. A mustard seed is only one or two millimeters in size. Smaller than small. Yet that tiny seed grows into a tree! The small size of the initial seed doesn’t stop the growth, and it doesn’t dictate the effectiveness of the growth. And even more than that, it provides something useful and beautiful: space for new life to flourish.
Planting the seed does more than grow something just for the sake of growing something. The results are a beautiful tree that benefits other creatures. So, too, the Kingdom of God doesn’t just exist for the sake of existing. The Kingdom is the manifestation of God drawing all things to himself and reconciling them to him. It’s renewal and restoration. Each of us being a part of the Kingdom isn’t just for us to claim our citizenship; it’s to represent the Kingdom and the King, bearing active witness to the renewal and restoration that represents the Kingdom and inviting others to participate in the Kingdom themselves.
Where have you seen the growth of the Kingdom becoming good for the world? Think about examples in your own heart, in church history, or in our church and community. Thank God for the amazing growth that can come from small beginnings!
By Jessica Rust