This was first published on June 4, 2009.
In the Gospels, Jesus likens the Kingdom of God to a mustard plant. I had always understood that story as meaning that the Kingdom starts out small, but then grows into something great to which everyone will eventually pledge allegiance (this all would happen during the future millennial kingdom). Evidently, Jesus had something different in mind.
To the Jews of the first century, mustard was a managed weed. It could be useful, but needed to be tightly controlled. Evidently it was against Jewish law to plant mustard in a garden. If managed well it grew into a large shrub, but not anything we would call a tree. The Jewish concept of the Kingdom of God was something that was big and powerful, like the cedar tree. It was something that would come with a bang, and everyone would know it was here. When Messiah came, he would restore the throne of David to its former glory. Israel would take its rightful place as the premier nation. Jesus turned that upside down. He stated that the kingdom would be something that started small and worked its way along like a mustard plant, like a weed that grew in places where it was unexpected, and unwanted. It would be a large shrub, not a majestic cedar. The common fowls would flock to it, not the majestic birds like the eagle.
The Kingdom of God is not out there in front. It is not found in human glory or national pride. Many times it is invisible, as it works its way through society. It is found in unexpected places, inside the four walls of a church, and outside where people live their lives. Too often we miss it. Regardless of how small the kingdom may appear, it is powerful. It breaks down barriers as it works into the cracks. It flavors life for its subjects and those they encounter. It cannot be contained in our neat little gardens, sometimes it can't even be found there.
The Kingdom of God is open to all who wish to enter, even those who are at the bottom of the ladder. Many who are looking for a kingdom that arrives with power and glory may stand in danger of missing the true King. As Jesus told Pilate, his kingdom is not of this world.
Follow this King and enter his kingdom. Be part of the mustard plant.
From my opportunity to teach in our gathering this morning:
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