Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed

01 October 2019 | Reflections | Anthony Luxton

Jesus said: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32)

Since Jesus taught this parable, mustard seeds have been used as a staple illustration in churches. The miniscule mustard seed, which is around 1 to 2 millimetres in diameter, grows into a tree typically six to seven metres in height. The seed illustrates a timeless truth that Christian growth and transformation begins with the smallest seed of faith and when nurtured grows into the largest plant in the garden. Amazingly it doesn’t stop there. The birds come and they make nests in the branches, that is, they call the tree home. The birds do not just settle in the tree, they become a part of its ecosystem, an essential component in spreading its many seeds. Jesus encourages us that even if we have the smallest faith God will transform that into something unexpected and astounding. It is no wonder that this message has continued to encourage Christians across the centuries.

Last Sunday Alan continued his series on the gospel of Luke, in particular, that underscoring the gospel is a belief that the good news of Jesus’ Kingdom is for anyone.(i) Like a sower spreading seeds (Matt 13:18-23), Jesus has spread the gospel message throughout the land, he has not excluded anyone. Sadly, the soil is not always fertile and the seeds do not always last long. On poor ground the seeds are snatched away; the roots cannot go deep; the saplings are strangled by the thorns and weeds. The seed is not guaranteed to grow, it requires cultivation, it requires a gardener.

Is there anybody in your life that you are feeling called to cultivate? Are they being strangled by hopelessness and fear? Is their foundation too shallow for roots to dig deep? It is during times of crisis that our lives are stripped bare and we recognise how precarious life can be. Like a gale blowing across a high summit, we are stripped clean of everything other than the things which have the deepest roots and the rigor to face adversity. As Christ’s church, led by the Spirit, we are being called to cultivate the land in preparation for the Kingdom of Heaven. During times of adversity let us not forget what is important.

I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6-7)

i. I prefer to hold the distinction that the good news of the gospel is for “anyone” rather than “everyone.” That is, anyone who believes that Jesus Christ is their Saviour and Lord.

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