There’s a famous mention of a mustard seed in the Bible that most believers can quote to you in an instant. That verse is about faith and how just a little bit of it can do mighty things. As I studied the book of Luke, I was surprised to find that Jesus used the mustard seed to illustrate something else, too.
Luke 13:18-19 Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? 19 It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.”
I think the reason I love this verse so much is that it puts a very relatable visual to the common Christian phrase of “planting a seed”. A lot of times, “planting a seed” is related to less than optimal situations. If a believer tries to tell a friend about Jesus and gets a really negative reaction, we tell the believer “It’s okay, you planted a seed.” It’s a great concept and it’s a true concept, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sometimes feel like the equivalent of having your dad say “hang in there, slugger, you’ll get ‘em next time.” However, when you read the words of Jesus, it makes it easier to see the long-term magic that can take place from the planting of even the tiniest of seeds.
If you dig into the specifics of what Jesus is talking about here, he’s talking about the kingdom of God. He talks about what grows it (a tiny seed), but what I think I love most is the final thing he mentions. The birds make nests in its branches. It may start out small, but it becomes a refuge for the innocent. It goes from a seed to a home that attracts others. Think about this, Jesus wasn’t operating a church of thousands here. The kingdom of God that he mentions here is still a very fledgling thing, with Jesus and twelve guys as the only real representatives. When compared to the whole world or even just the regions they were operating in, the mustard seed illustration couldn’t have been more perfect. This is a tiny group trying to effect massive change. In a lot of ways, I think Jesus could’ve been encouraging his disciples here, showing them that while it may feel like a lot of hard work for no visible reward in the moment, there was a beautiful result that was eventually going to come.
Following the mustard seed illustration, Jesus gives another.
Luke 13:20-21 He also asked, “What else is the Kingdom of God like? 21 It is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
When taken together, I find these verses to be incredibly uplifting. You can relate them to so many things, because these are verses about small beginnings. With the mustard seed, Jesus shows that the kingdom of God can grow from the tiniest of things. This wasn’t just a story he was telling, it was a promise and a prediction that over two thousand years later the world cannot deny came true. True believers may still be in the minority when compared to the entire population, but the kingdom of God has grown from one man and his twelve disciples into billions of people.
In the yeast example, Jesus shows that it takes but a sprinkle of God to completely change the consistency and makeup of a thing. If you’re not latching onto these verses today then do so right now, because this is the kind of encouragement and recharge that will keep us going as believers. When we give someone great, God-inspired, biblical advice and they ignore it and do something destructive anyway, these verses will remind us that a seed was planted, and God can and does do amazing things with even the smallest measure of Himself. I can think of fifty situations this could apply to right off the top of my head. When the kids don’t start acting right even though you displayed Godly parenting, when the people you’re ministering to stared at you blankly and seemed to not receive at all, when you feel weary from all the work and seeing no results. Know that God’s a gardener and a baker, and He doesn’t need much to make magic happen.
Keep working. Keep ministering, keep sharing Jesus, keep pressing forward. God’s worth the sacrifice, and He works mightily within the seeds we spread. One mustard seed equals a tree. A handful of mustard seeds tossed into a barren patch of land become a mighty forest.
That’s it for today. I hope everyone’s week is off to a great start. God is so good, and He’s so available to those who seek Him. I love you guys and I will see you all here again tomorrow!
If you need prayer or just need someone to talk to, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.