Summary: Jesus tells of the Kingdom being like a tiny Mustard Seed. This sermon explores what something so small could mean in describing something so majestic
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APPLY: Many of those classifieds are funny, because somebody left out, or misspelled, one small word or phrase. Sometimes, it’s the things you don’t notice - the little things that have greatest value.
In our text today, - Jesus tells a parable using one of the smallest of seeds known to the people in that day: the mustard seed. How many of you have ever seen a mustard seed? It’s not much bigger than a speck of dust, and yet Jesus uses this small, seemingly insignificant little seed to tell us something about His kingdom, the Church.
I. Parables were stories that Jesus told where He used common items that people often saw everyday (such as birds, flowers, seeds) to describe spiritual truths & realities they’d never seen or would never see.
No one had ever seen the “Kingdom of God” Jesus was describing, SO, He told parables like this to help people visualize what it was going to be like.
But, why use an item like a mustard seed. It was a small, insignificant, relatively unimportant seed. It wasn’t highly prized. It was useful for flavoring food, it’s leaves were edible, and some believed (if prepared properly) parts of the plant had medicinal properties.
BUT, it was also something of nuisance plant. Jesus calls it a tree here… but it’s actually more of a shrub. It grew sometimes to a height of 10’ to 12’ and its stem often could become the thickness of a man’s arm… but it was still a shrub. And it wasn’t an overly attractive plant. In fact at times, people regarded it as a bit of a weed. You didn’t dare plant it in your garden it would crowd out all the other plants and literally and take over.
(A note to preachers accessing SermonCentral = while searching the Internet for pictures and information on the mustard seed, I found that skeptics felt they had really found a error in Scripture because Jesus had called this mustard plant a "tree." It took me a couple of hours to discover that the mustard shrub - commonly believed to be the Black Mustard plant - sometimes grew to heights of up to 15’. However the only picture I could find to substantiate that fact was in the "Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. II @ 1975. In other words, the mustard plant could tower over people much like a tree would, and would no doubt many Jews of that day may have called it just that - a tree. For Jesus to have called this shrub a tree, therefore, would not have been a error in Scripture if it were commonly referred to by others in that fashion).
The mustard plant was a common, ordinary shrub that had things about it that people liked, and things about it, people didn’t like.
II. So why choose the mustard seed to represent the Kingdom? Why choose something so common and so ordinary to paint a picture of the powerful and majestic Kingdom Jesus would soon invest so much to create? It just doesn’t make any sense… or does it?
I believe Jesus chose the Mustard seed (in part) because it was so small, so insignificant.
Turn with me in your Bibles to I Corinthians 1:18-29 (READ).
Why did Jesus chose the mustard seed to represent His Kingdom? Because God is always consistent: He "chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things— and the things that are not— to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him." 1 Corinthians 1:27-29
ILLUS: I’ve heard of churches that become the "in place" to be. All the "pretty people" want to go there. All the influential gather at its doors. Politicians and businessmen go to that building because that’s where everybody else is.
It could be described as a mighty oak, or a towering Redwood, a spreading Chestnut tree – because it has great influence and power in the community. But those churches often run into the danger of being a place where people go to see each other… but not to see Jesus.