By Peter Enns
Jesus speaks a lot about the kingdom of heaven (or of God). This has nothing to do with “going to heaven,”as we today sometimes think of it, but a here-and-now kingdom that has come down from heaven. Neither was Jesus thinking what many of his day expected of the kingdom of God: a new kingdom ushered in by a military king, a messiah (anointed one), who would defeat the Romans and assume the throne in Jerusalem. Jesus’ kingdom was about inner transformation by God.
A kingdom like that might be hard to see, and the parable we find on Luke 13:18-21 talks about the inconspicuous beginnings of such a kingdom—but one that will have a big effect in time.
The mustard seed was considered the smallest seed in Jesus day (2 mm, or about .08 inches), but it grew into a large tree several feet high. Likewise, the kingdom of heaven begins with one person, Jesus, who, like a seed, is placed in the ground (in death), but the result is an immense people of God. People from all nations will come and “perch” in the “branches” of the kingdom. So, the kingdom starts small but grows beyond measure.
A small amount of yeast makes dough rise, as we all know. Just as the mustard seed is small, the yeast is inconspicuous. A pinch is mixed in thoroughly with the flour and the dough rises. Without yeast, there dough remains flat. So, the Gospel begins inconspicuously, but has a permeating influence wherever it is found.
The kingdom of heaven began in an unassuming way and exceeded all expectations that the people in Jesus’ time may have had. This is also true for us today. What God is doing in our lives and through us often seems tiny and unimportant, but over time the results are much bigger and more astounding than one might have guessed.
Is there an incident in your life you can look back on that didn’t seem like much at first, but had a big impact on your spiritual life years later?
Why do you think God works this way, making something grand out of the small and inconspicuous?
Lord, I am part of the kingdom you have built that started small and grew large. Thank you for letting me rest in your branches. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear the inconspicuous ways you are moving in my life now; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.