Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.Matthew 13:31-32
And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.Mark 4:30-32
Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.Luke 13:18-19
What should our expectations be concerning the kingdom of God here on earth?
This is an important question. It was one of the most asked questions by the disciples during Jesus’ earthly ministry. The disciples, it seems, had quite similar hopes as those of the Scribes and Pharisees concerning the kingdom the Messiah would establish. The primary focus on those desires was a restoration of the nation of Israel to its former glory. The events of 70 A.D. have shown us that Jesus did not come to establish that type of kingdom. Israel is no more. The nation state that is there now was established by men, not God.
So, what should we expect?
There have been those throughout American history, and there are many today, that feel it is the job of the church to take over America for Christ. In the early days of our country, many horrible deeds were done in the name of “manifest destiny.” Some went so far as to compare America to the New Jerusalem. Those views were wrong then, and they are wrong now. God has not called on us to march on Washington any more than He called on the “Holy Roman Empire” to slaughter millions in the name of Christ. These views of an earthly kingdom and utopia are the same error of the hopes and desires of the Pharisees.
This parable gives us a glimpse of how we should view the spread and establishment of the kingdom of God. To the world, it is like an insignificant little seed. This should remind us that we do not need to expect a popular and prominent presence. Nor does Jesus need the marketing tactics of men to spread His kingdom.
Jesus does not spread His kingdom with oppressive power and slaughtering of nations. Jesus spreads His kingdom by giving eternal life to God’s elect regardless of what earthly flag they are born under. There are children of God in America. There are children of God in the remotest parts of Africa. There are children of God in Communist China. And yes, there are children of God even in the strongholds of Islam.
So, what should we expect? The unexpected.
The kingdom of God is spiritual. God is in control – not men as preachers, mission boards, armies, or governments. The kingdom can and will show up in the most unlikely of places. But when it does, it will be a place of refuge and rest for the children of God.