Mustard Seed

“He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32)

We have now looked at the first two Parables in our study and it is easy to conclude that the disciples may have found them to be a little discouraging. In the first Parable “The Parable of the Sower” we saw that only one in four soils will receive the Word that was sown. In the second the “Wheat and the Tares” we learned that Satan will use every means to undermine the efforts of the sower. An early commentator whose name is Chrysostom suggested that the next two Parables were told in order to encourage Jesus’ disciples. These Parables are “The Mustard Seed” and “The Leaven.” These two Parables tell us that the Kingdom of God is destined for remarkable growth.

This week we will look at the Parable of the Mustard Seed. The Mustard Plant has several species and they produce a seed that is used as a spice. The seed of the mustard plant is grounded and mixed with water, vinegar and it creates a condiment known as prepared mustard. The seeds can also be pressed to make mustard oil and the leaves can be eaten as mustard greens. The mustard seed is generally the smallest seed but can grow to ten or fifteen feet in height. The branches of the mustard plant produces rigid branches and is a shelter for birds. (Wikipedia)

The use of the mustard seed was to describe anything that was small at it beginning and would become large at its maturity. Latter in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus used the mustard seed as a measure of one’s faith. (Matthew 17:20)

Jesus used the mustard seed to signify that the Kingdom of Heaven would have a small beginning and would become the final Kingdom on earth and be everlasting through eternity. This is in fulfillment of prophecy from the Old Testament Prophets. Concerning Jesus the Messiah, “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.” (Isaiah 11:1) And the everlasting Kingdom. “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.” (Daniel 2:44)

Jesus had humble beginnings in the small town of Nazareth from where nothing of good came out of. (John 1:46) Jesus was the small stone that we see in the prophecy of Daniel that became the great mountain which filled the whole earth. “Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” (Daniel 2:35)

The rapid growth of the early Church confirms the truth of this Parable. From the upper room came 120 disciple of Jesus and in one day their number grew to over 3000. (Acts 2:41-21) By the time of the Apostle Peter’s second sermon the numbers grew by another 5000, (Acts 4:4) continued to grow daily in Jerusalem, (Acts 6:7) in the areas of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. (Acts 9:31) Today throughout the world there are myriads of Christians who are Ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus spoke of how the birds of the air would come to nest in the branches of the Mustard Plant. Unlike the two previous Parables Jesus did not explain His meaning. Birds take refuge in the branches of trees and the Church is a place of refuge for God’s people. The Birds of the air could also refer to the saints of His Church. In other places of Scripture God’s children are referred to particular birds. The saints have been called eagles, doves, and sparrows. Birds are seen as weak and defenseless and are exposed to many dangers. Birds wander and go astray but when they take refuge in the branches of the Church they sing songs to their God and Redeemer. Birds are destined for the heavens, as they are heaven born souls, the day will come when their Lord will call them and meet them in the heavens to take them to their home in the Kingdom.

While they are nesting in the branches of the Church they are enjoying the righteousness of their Lord and the peace of His Holy Spirit. “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17) The branches of the Church is a place where the invitation is made for the weary souls of the world to come and find rest in His Kingdom. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

This Parable of Jesus is a great encouragement to the disciples of Jesus Christ. As Christians we too are part of something that will grow continually and be a blessing to all the world.

We have today the same seed. The same seed that the sower planted over two thousand years ago as He walked throughout the Holy Land. The seed of the Kingdom, the Word of God. it is the same seed that started the Church, has grown the Church, will sustain the Church, and will endure forever. This seed is incorruptible that lives and saves lives and will abide with us for eternity. “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All flesh is like grass, And all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, And the flower falls off, But the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word which was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:23-25) It is the power of God’s Word in us that will accomplish His good work for mankind. His Word cannot be defeated and will not return to Him without achieving the purpose for which it was sent forth. “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11) In spite of the rejection of men His Kingdom will continue to grow and is eternal.

The Kingdom of Heaven will continue to grow as the Christians who abide in Christ and walk in the power of His Holy Spirit continue to accomplish this continued growth by the power that He has given them. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

This Parable is our encouragement as we are assured of greater things to come, as our Church fathers started with something small and throughout the ages it will continue to grow as we abide in Him and produce much spiritual fruit for His Kingdom. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Let us invite all that will choose to rest their weary wings in the branches of His Church and rest in the saving knowledge of Jesus our King of kings. That they at the end of their journey may abide in the tree called the Kingdom of Heaven. “Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3-5)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, October 23, 2016

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