There is an advertising campaign on television that has been running for a while using the phrase, “from little things big things grow.” They are selling superannuation and the fact that by investing a little now it will grow significantly into a nest egg you will be able to retire on with comfort in later years.
Today’s scripture follows a similar line, but is far, far better in its outcome than mere superannuation because we see here the planting of something small will lead you into the Kingdom of God.
Jesus begins by talking about a grain of mustard seed. Elsewhere he says that a mustard seed is one of the smallest of seeds, but it grows into the largest of bushes.
Jesus uses the analogy of a seed many times in his parables. For example in the well known parable of the sower we see the sower go out and sow the seed, which is the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
In today’s parable the seed also is the teachings about the Kingdom of God that is sown in the hearts of men and women. It begins as a first inkling of what Jesus and the Gospel are all about. It starts as a grain of faith that is planted like a mustard seed into the heart of a person, which then germinates and begins to grow.
What will Grow?
There are two perspectives that can be drawn from this parable. The first is an analogy about an individual and the second about the church.
Over time as a person learns to follow Jesus the mustard seed of faith planted in their hearts begins to grow. It enlarges and expands eventually becoming a fully grown tree, which will be a strong and abiding faith that can withstand storms, troubles and so on, just as a tree can stand in the adversity of the elements.
Again, the parable could be talking about the church. It too started as the smallest of congregations with a handful of disciples following the Lord, but it has grown to the point where Christianity in one form or another fills the earth and is the major religion of the world.
How does it Grow?
In both examples it begins as a very small thing and with teaching and time it grows into something large and strong. In the parable we see that the birds of the air come and nest in the branches of the mustard tree when it is grown. If we think about that for a moment we see another dimension to the parable.
Why do birds nest in trees? They do so for comfort and protection. Protection from predators and the adversity of the elements and as a home where they can raise their young with some degree of safety and stability.
Likewise we see that if we look at this in the the context of the church, it too is a place of sanctuary where people can come to praise and worship the Lord. It is a place where they can learn and have fellowship and find joy and the teachings of God’s Kingdom that will lead to peace, security and righteousness.
Similarly from an individual perspective, when we have this grain of mustard seed grow within us it too becomes a stronghold which can withstand the attacks of Satan. We come to the Lord for protection through the Holy Spirit and prayer so that we can find comfort, peace and security just as the birds find security and a home in the tree.
A Home in Heaven
The promise of this parable is that there will be a home in the Kingdom of God for those who seek and obtain this mustard seed of faith. When they allow it to grow through nourishing and watering it with the words of the Lord and the teachings of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus, then it grows into a tree that will be a home for us in the Kingdom of Heaven, both now and in the future.
The Kingdom of God is a spiritual place as Jesus showed elsewhere saying, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:20-21) Thus we have the ability to enter it now if we accept this grain of mustard seed of faith and let the Gospel work in our lives. When it does we shall receive a home in heaven and truly see “from little things big things grow” that will be vastly better than superannuation for it will lead us to a home with God.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/ taken by Dominic Morel)