A Mustard Seed Kingdom

Have you ever given much thought to subatomic particles? Or stuff that’s really, really small? Many years ago, I found this Scale of Universe interactive site and I just love to scroll down to as small as I can, to see the smallest of known particles, the neutrino (although I suppose it should be updated for the Higgs boson now?), and see all the incredible things that lurk in the hazy, crazy world of quantum physics. It’s insane to think that all of those miniscule particles, when woven together, can make up things as big as you and me, all the way up to stars like VY Canis Majoris, which then join together to become galaxies and superclusters and…

Okay, this isn’t a science blog. I was going somewhere with this.

Ah, yes. Going from small to large. Jesus once spoke of that as well:

He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

Mustard flowers from my farm in Indian village.Jesus compares His kingdom, the Church, to a mustard seed, one of the smallest seeds in the garden. But then it grows and grows and becomes huge. He seems to indicate that that’s what’s going to happen with His people in the Church. It would start small (remember, before Pentecost, there were only 120 followers left in the Jesus Movement), but it wasn’t going to stay that way. Just like the seemingly unimpressive mustard seed, it would grow, larger and larger, spreading its branches out from the soil it had been planted in. And that’s what we see, not only through the book of Acts, but also throughout the march of the past two thousand years. It may seem like a branch may wither and shrivel, but the mustard seed continues to grow.

But there’s something cooler going on in this as well. Notice what Jesus said about the birds of the air. From what I’ve read, birds love mustard bushes. They love to hide in their branches and eat the seeds that grow there. But Jesus isn’t just making some random observations about flora and fauna. No, in the Bible, the “birds of the air” is a catchphrase that refers to the Gentiles.

So think of what Jesus is saying here. His kingdom will start out small, but it will grow. And it will grow to the point that the Gentiles, those crazy birds of the air, will find shelter in its branches. In this parable, we not only see Jesus’ understanding of the future of His people, but also who He knows will be a part of it all, namely the last people you might expect.

There’s one other thing that occurs to me when we talk about going from small to large. Let’s think subatomic particles again. They are tiny things in and of themselves, but when they join together, the structures they create can grow to huge proportions. And the same is true of the Church. Individually, we are just little neutrinos in a lonely universe. But when the one who created it all joins us together with our fellow believers, we become a wonder.

Neutrinos, Mustard Seeds, and the Church. Click To Tweet

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