“Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32
Mustard seeds are tiny. A mustard seed is so small that if you dropped it on the ground, you would probably have a hard time finding it. Yet it grows into a plant so large that birds can perch on its branches.
What does that have to do with the kingdom of God?
When Jesus started his ministry, he had no followers. It was just him. Think how lonely that would have been. Then he saw two fisherman, Peter and Andrew, and he called out to them, “Come and follow me,” They immediately followed Jesus. One by one, Jesus called more disciples until there were twelve of them. That is a pretty small beginning. Jesus sent out the twelve and they brought others to Jesus and the kingdom grew. From a small beginning, the kingdom has grown until it has spread throughout the entire world.
As I think about this parable, I am reminded of the fact that planting mustard seeds in a garden was actually forbidden in Jewish Palestine. Having spent 25 years of my life in the Atlanta area, I relate well to the analogy that mustard was the “kudzu” of the ancient world. It would grow and spread and take over anything in its path. So, by planting mustard seed, the farmer would eventually be left with a garden that was overrun by the weed and it would eventually take over the entire garden plot. Nothing could kill it. This is similar to the Christian faith – despite persecution it grew on.
The small beginning of the kingdom was not what the Jews were expecting. They were looking for a Messiah that would lead the Jewish nation to a military victory over the Romans. They were hoping to become a powerful independent nation. That wasn’t what God had planned.
God’s intent is for the kingdom of heaven was to start small and then to permeate the entire world. And, like the mustard plant that grows and spreads from one seed, so does the kingdom of God.
So take the seed and spread it everywhere you go.