Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.” (Luke 13:18-19)
The Mustard Seed Church
Jesus was a masterful teacher to show the power of His Father’s word in practical applications of life. He used familiar images that would remind the people daily of His words. The mustard tree was plentiful in the warm climate of Palestine. It grew to a large size giving shade and respite to weary travelers and a safe haven for animals. The coming of the kingdom would be realized after the death of Jesus but He taught the disciples of how the kingdom of God would change the world. Often in His teachings, Jesus illustrated the power of the new kingdom that would be established in Jerusalem. This was fulfilled when the twelve apostles preached those stirring sermons on Pentecost and three thousand devout Jews became the first disciples of the new kingdom.
In the parable of the mustard seed, Jesus taught the slow progress of the kingdom and how it would become a large entity bringing peace and safety to those who sought its protection. Mustard trees did not grow very fast and the early church began in infancy slowing gathering momentum where Paul would declare to the church at Colosse the gospel had gone into the whole world. This would be a slow process. What we enjoy today in the blessings of the church began two thousand years ago. The kingdom of God has never failed since the beginning and will endure until the coming of the Lord. It took a lot of patience and work for the church to spread throughout the whole world. Men took the gospel to every corner of the globe sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. This efforts continues as missions spread in many countries helping the lost find the peace in Jesus Christ. The church continues to grow worldwide.
The parable of the mustard seed is also an important lesson for the local congregation. A mustard seed is planted so that it will one day become a large tree offering the blessings of God’s creation. The church of the mustard seed is a group of saints in a community that seek to spread the borders of the kingdom throughout the area. Too often churches take on the form of a stagnant tree with no new growth. Vibrancy is the feeling of the mustard seed church that continues to grow in all areas of the community letting their lights shine forth in lives of godliness. A church is not a light when it becomes a night light – dim and little glow. It is a light on a hill that shines forth to all. The church of the mustard seed is a large tree in the town or city that offers the good news of peace in the limbs of God’s grace blossoming forth the joy of salvation. A mustard tree that is green is growing; a mustard tree that is brown is dying. The difference is what the members make the tree to become: a place of continued growth or a place for dying members.
Jesus told of the mustard seed becoming a large tree. His desire for the local church is for it to become a place of rest for weary souls. The roots are firmly planted in the word of God establishing a solid trunk of truth giving strength to the branches of righteousness that spread their arms toward the sun. Blossoms continually sprout covering the tree with the glory of salvation as the weary and heavy-laden come for rest under its shade. The purpose of the church in a community is to become a haven of redemption helping lost souls find shelter in the peace of God. It will begin small like a mustard seed but through continued work of prayers and blessings from God, the little church that began in the front store of Molly’s groceries will find a place of prominence in the hearts of the community because of their love for God and His word. It is not about the building but the hearts of the mustard seed saints who make up the work of God’s kingdom. Be the leaven where you are. Help the church you are a part of become a large tree in your community so that others may glorify God in their obedience to the gospel call. Be the church of the mustard seed.