The Kingdom of God and a Mustard Seed
“18 Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” Luke 13:18-19 NIV
I’ve read this before and wondered. Why didn’t Jesus choose something else to compare to the Kingdom of God? Why a mustard seed? Why not a ketchup seed – after all, I like ketchup better? Just kidding!
The mustard plant was one of the less desirable plants to the Jews. It was a considered a nuisance type plant of the day. It wasn’t highly sought after. It wasn’t stately or attractive. It was a shrub or a weed. The mustard seed was one of the smallest seeds known to the people of Israel. I’ve read that it was about the size of a pinhead or the same size as a speck of dust! Why all this talk about mustard? Jesus used a mustard seed to compare to the Kingdom of God!
C’mon Jesus, really? Comparing the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed? We are talking about the Kingdom of God! Maybe it should be compared to a giant Oak, Cedar, or Redwood tree. What is the reason for a mustard seed? It doesn’t seem to make sense. Or does it? Here are some parallels about a mustard seed and the Kingdom of God.
The mustard seed, like the Kingdom of God, was hidden in plain sight.
The mustard seed and plant were common in Israel and so anyone had access to a mustard plant. Because it was considered a shrub or weed, not everyone wanted access to it.
I heard about a guy named Joshua Bell who walked out of the Washington DC Metro one day and positioned himself against a wall. He was a young white man in blue jeans, a long sleeve t-shirt, and a baseball cap. Out of a small case he removed a violin. He placed the case at his feet and threw in a few dollars in pocket change to be seed money. For the next 45 minutes in the DC metro, on January 12, 2007, Bell played Mozart and Schubert as over 1,000 people walked by without taking notice. If they did stop to take notice, they might have noticed that Bell is a world renowned violinist, and the violin he played was a rare Stradivari, worth over $3,000,000! It was a project arranged by the Washington Post. It was an “experiment in context perception and priorities as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste.”
3 days earlier, Joshua Bell sold out the Boston Symphony Hall with ordinary seats going for $100. In the Subway he gathered $32 from the 27 people who stopped long enough to give a donation. The world famous violinist Joshua Bell was playing a $3,000,000 dollar Stradivari, outside the Washington DC Metro where he was mostly unnoticed and completely unrecognized. Often the Kingdom of God can be all around us and growing, but go mostly unnoticed and completely unrecognized! Like the growing mustard plant, Bell was hidden in plain sight. By the way, that is how Jesus walked around in Jerusalem as well; hidden in plain sight.
Here is the point. The Kingdom of God is alive and active around us all the time, but like Joshua Bell, needs to be recognized to be appreciated.
The mustard seed, like the Kingdom of God, grew exponentially to reach its potential.
I heard a Christian speaker talking about a number of different quotes on Christian t-shirts.
Faithbook – Jesus wants you to be in His book. Do you accept?
AllFaith – Providing the best life insurance since the birth of Jesus Christ
Mr. Clean – The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (with a picture of Jesus with His arms crossed like Mr. Clean)
God wants Utube saved
AirJesus – The ultimate high
Can you find the common theme behind these last 4 quotes?
Without Jesus you’re toast
Don’t be caught dead without Jesus
Don’t croak without Jesus
For your place in eternity, do you prefer smoking or non-smoking?
The most common message we talk about is how to get into Heaven. We get the idea that Christianity is all about us discovering “where we are going when we die.”
The mustard seed in Jesus’ time was like a weed that people wouldn’t dare plant it in their gardens because it would grow exponentially and when it was grown, it would crowd out all of the other plants and take over the garden!
The message that Jesus preached throughout His ministry was NOT about getting people to trust God so that they go to heaven when they die. His message was not about us going to heaven, but about heaven coming to us!
I am learning these days that living the Christian life is not just about getting into Heaven when I die. It is all about getting Heaven into me right now, so I can be empowered to live!
It is about allowing the seed of God’s Word come in, grow exponentially in me, and letting it take over completely (like the mustard seed would the garden)!
Lord Jesus may I remember that living the Christian life is all about allowing Heaven to invade me and take over every part! Amen.