If a single mustard seed was sitting on the table you would miss it. However, you won’t miss the big shrub growing in your garden. The parable of the mustard seed in Mark 4 conditions us as followers of Jesus to quit underestimating the impact of the Kingdom of God as its announced and displayed in the context of our usual relationships.
30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth,32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” Mark 4:30-32
- This big shrub was not a usual garden plant. However, Jesus has it planted in the frequently visited place — the garden. So it is with the Kingdom of God, when we proclaim the Kingdom through the Gospel of Jesus, it is to be in the normal pathways of our lives. Our relationships in the normal patterns of study, work, life, and play become our “garden” for the Kingdom of God. Quit diminishing the value of your normal and usual relationships.
- The seed contains immense potential. Although the seed is not the focus of this parable it is important to note that the big “change” that is the focus of the parable starts with the seed. Mark 4 has conditioned the followers of Jesus to view the seed as the Word of God — the word of the Gospel and the Kingdom of Jesus. The Gospel story of Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection has a power of its own to bring change in the lives of people. Quit diminishing the value of the Gospel.
- The growth of the Kingdom is not only for our benefit. Jesus describes the impact of the seed’s great growth as the creation of a refuge for the birds of the air. Jesus may be drawing an allusion to the birds of the air references in Ezekiel and Daniel. The nations shall take refuge in the Kingdom of Jesus. We don’t get to choose who we are nesting beside. By design others are to benefit from the change occurring in the lives of those who take refuge in Christ. Quit diminishing the Kingdom call for open engagement with people who are “not like you;” then, we will experience the blessings of the Kingdom of God together.