They say that the sun never sets on the British Empire. It's the largest empire that the world has ever known, and it covered 13.71 million square miles of land at its height in 1920. There's a reason they said that the sun never set on the empire; there was so much land under the empire's dominion that the sun would set in one territory and rise in another. However, the British Empire's dominion in some areas did not last forever. The United States of America is an example. While the British Empire is still the largest Empire the world has ever known, it is not a kingdom that will last into eternity.
However, it is an earthly shadow of a kingdom that will endure forever. We've been focusing on this kingdom for the past week, and I'm learning more about the kingdom while writing about it. One day, God's kingdom will have a far greater reach and dominion that the British Empire, but it started very small.
Jesus spent time teaching the disciples about the kingdom of God with parables. In one such parable, he compares the kingdom to a grain of mustard seed:
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
There is something so beautiful about the image of a tiny mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds, being planted and eventually growing to be larger than all the garden plants. This little seed, that looks tiny and weak, actually grows into something far greater. Jesus uses this seed very intentionally to make a comparison to God's Kingdom.
The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed; it began small with Jesus and the disciples, and then it grew larger, and one day it will grow larger than all of the garden plants (kingdoms). Just like the birds in the tree, many people will come and find refuge in the kingdom.
The kingdom starts off with humble beginnings and then will grow to a worldwide size, which many will find shelter in.
At the same time, there's something that most people don't know about mustard trees. Pliny the Elder writes about it in his Natural History, which was published around 78 AD:
"Mustard…is extremely beneficial for the health. It grows entirely wild, though it is improved by being transplanted: but on the other hand when it has once been sown it is scarcely possible to get the place free of it, as the seed when it falls germinates at once."
Mustard grows like a weed. When the seed falls, it germinates and grows at once. Once a mustard tree is fully grown, it is nearly impossible to get rid of it, and it continues releasing seeds that germinate. To the average gardener, the mustard tree is a pesky plant whose growth, once begun, is near impossible to stop.
How true is that of the kingdom of God? When a gospel seed is sown in a person's heart, the seed begins to grow. Something so small, a little seed of faith, grows into a large rooted tree that spreads other seeds, which germinate and grow. It spreads and grows quickly. As well, It becomes a shelter to some and obnoxious to those that try to root it out. But there is no stopping the growth of the mustard seed, just like there is no way to stop the growth of the kingdom of God in the hearts of people.
God's kingdom is like a mustard seed, and one day it will grow to be the largest kingdom that the world has ever known.
This post is part of a 31 day series called Seeking the Kingdom.
You can view the rest of the posts from the series here.
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