Jesus asked the people what can we compare the kingdom of God to. He said the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed for it starts out small but grows into a great shrub or tree that the birds of the air can nest in. This imagery is interesting and the parable tells us much about this analogy Jesus used with the people.
There are two key points to be made here. First the mustard seed is the smallest of seeds but grows into one of the largest shrubs. In this we see the dramatic transformation from something that begins small but expands into something big. If we look at this in the light of the church, it began small with just Jesus and a handful of disciples, but has grown to the point where Christianity is proclaimed and Jesus is believed upon throughout the world.
The second point is that this tree grows so large that birds of the air come and nest or take shelter in it’s branches. The tree is a place of shelter and protection from the elements and from predators. The kingdom of God is the same. When we come to Christ we find a place of rest where the Lord cares for our spiritual needs. When we are among brethren we receive teaching and assistance to learn and grow in the Lord so we can walk in his ways.
I believe there is both a personal as well as a community aspect to this parable. I covered this in some detail in a previous discussion, which can be viewed in this previous post.
The kingdom of God from a personal perspective is very much like a seed. In my last couple of posts I have looked at the parable of the sower and sowing seeds. When the seed of the word is sown into us, it germinates, sprouts and begins to grow in a spiritual sense. We water and feed the seed through study, teaching and prayer and it grows. As we learn and as the Holy Spirit works within us we are transformed into the image of Christ. And throughout this process we come into the presence and the kingdom of God.
We learn so that we can be stable in the Lord. We learn through the Spirit to discern the difference between truth and error. There is much that is taught in the name of Christ that has little or nothing to do with Christianity. These things do not exist in God’s kingdom for it is pure and unblemished by lies and errors. The challenge for us is to learn the difference, which we can do by a solid study of the word and by prayer to the Lord for insight, knowledge and wisdom as David and the prophets sought the Lord for understanding.
He will provide for us in these ways as he promised saying, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) And when he provides we see the fulfilment of this parable for the tree of life that grows within is is like the mustard seed. It provides us with protection and shelter so that we can weather the storms of life and opposition from the enemy to find peace and rest in the Lord Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God.
(Picture provided by Crossmap Arts (www.arts.crossmap.com)