When Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God is like a small mustard seed that would grow large, He was showing the power of God to do His work through whatever instrument He chooses.
The context of the parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13:31-32 follows the parable of the sower and the seed, and the parable of the tares. These parables focus on the results of sowing the seed of the gospel or good news of the Kingdom through the preaching of the Word.
The parable of the mustard seed adds additional understanding and encouragement to our concept of the Kingdom of God. Basically Christ was telling His disciples and us that the Kingdom of God will start out as small and insignificant, but its power is strong, and it will grow to become something far greater.
A biblical example of this concept is the Jewish return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. God inspired Zechariah to warn the workers of the importance of their task. This was God’s work at that time and they were slacking off, having become very discouraged because of attacks from their enemies. Lacking faith in the power of God to intervene on their behalf they had retreated into concentrating on providing a comfortable way of life for themselves.
Zechariah’s message was one of encouragement that God was with them and they would accomplish their goals, if they continued to have faith and put all their energy and efforts into completing their God-given task. “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’” … “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; His hands shall also finish it” (Zechariah 4:6-9). And in verse 10 Zechariah goes on to warn the workers not to despise “the day of small things”.
The message to Zerubbabel to the people was clear: Don’t worry about your small numbers and your insignificant position. God is greater than all opposition and though they were small He would empower them!
This story is recorded in the Bible as a lesson for us and demonstrates the concept Christ was teaching the disciples. When He taught that the Kingdom of God is like a small mustard seed that would grow large, He was showing the power of God to do His work through whatever human instruments He chooses. We should not get discouraged, as God often begins His work in a small way. Like a grain of mustard seed it has the smallest of beginnings, yet has the greatest of power and potential.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit God’s followers are transformed and His Kingdom will eventually rule over all nations.
Beyond Today Magazine