“To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.” Mark 4:30-32
In the fall of 1984, when the school year at Cedar Lake Academy commenced, Peter was the shortest student on campus. Shorter than all the guys and, yes, shorter than all the girls. I didn’t make any effort to keep track of his growth rate so I couldn’t tell you how his height compared to everyone else until two years later when we were to begin our 11th grade year. Over that summer Pete had grown several inches and now stood just over 6 feet tall. This didn’t make him the tallest student on campus, Larry, at 6 feet, 8 inches, held that distinction. Still Peter was taller than most other students, including myself.
It’s easy to discount someone or something because of how it appears in the beginning.
A natural question, after reading the focus text is, “How small is the mustard seed?” When I was in college we were studying one of the texts that mention the mustard seed and the teacher brought to class a small glass jar with mustard seeds in it. He’d filled his wife’s thimble with the seeds and them taken the time to carefully count the number of seeds. More that 500 had been required to fill the thimble.
“The Kingdom of God…is like a mustard seed.”
The kingdom of God, when it enters into any persons life is no more than a few words that someone has heard over the course of a few minutes or perhaps an hour. When compared to the volume of conversations and the measure of time that the person will experience in his or her lifetime the amount is negligible. Yet, those few words and minutes have the capacity to completely alter the life, character and person of the one who hears them. The wicked becomes righteousness, the promiscuous becomes pure and self-controlled, the uncaring becomes kind, and the thoughtless become thoughtful.
Sometimes, the change is so great that it’s hard to believe it’s the same person. But all that potential lies within the tiny seed. The gospel, which begins with just a few words, which has the power to transform your life and mine, has the potential to transform the world. And that same gospel is the tool that God is using to change the way all the universe thinks about God and understands his love.