14 – The Kingdom of God
And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.
- Blade: Stalk of the plant.
- Ear (of corn): The spike at the top of the plant in which flowers grow, later developing into corn and protected by leaves.
- Sickle: a tool for cutting the corn.
Have you ever seen plants grow?
When you look at a seed are you able to see how big the plant will be? Is the size of the seed important?
We have already seen that Jesus likes to use the illustration of seed being sown to explain truths to his disciples. In this passage, we see Jesus using two new pictures.
The first picture explains the fact that the kingdom of God grows in a way that we are not able to understand or control – it is the kingdom of God, and He is the one responsible for its growth. Just like a seed grows, there is a process of growing in the case of the kingdom, and this process happens gradually, over time. This is true when thinking about the way in which the gospel spread throughout the world, but it is also true about the way in which God brings about fruit in our own lives. Although we have a responsibility to do everything we can to grow in our faith, it is a great comfort to think that God himself, through the Holy Spirit, works in us as well. From the minute we believe in Jesus Christ, the Spirit begins to change our lives gradually to become more like him.
In the second picture, Jesus explains even more about the kingdom, by saying that it is like one particular sort of seed – the mustard seed. This seed is very interesting, because as Jesus explains, although it begins as a very small seed, when it has grown it is a huge tree. And that is exactly what we see in the history of Christianity. This, which began with a small, insignificant group of people, following a person called Jesus in the Middle East 2000 years ago, now has extended throughout the whole world until today millions of people call themselves Christians. At the end of time, when the kingdom has reached its full growth, the Lord Jesus will collect his people together and destroy everything else.
Why do you think that the picture of seeds growing is such a good one? How does it help us to understand the way that God works?
In what way is it a comfort to know that it is God who causes growth and not us?
that we will see the kingdom of heaven continue to grow and that more people will become part of it.