Last night at a small church here in Durango, one of the pastors did the lesson on Jesus' parable about the Mustard seed. Remember in Matthew 13, Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though
it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the
largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the
air come and perch in its branches."
I can tell you, I've heard that section of scripture a lot, but I've never really taken any time to understand it well. So last night was a great learning time for me.
The pastor started by framing Jesus' message as something new, fresh, and different from the expectations Israel had for the coming Messiah. The Israelites were counting on a Messiah to come and return the reign of Israel back to the "glory days" of King David. They likened it to the Mighty Cedar Tree of Lebanon. So when Jesus came and told them of a Kingdom where service was going to be the centerpiece, it shattered expectations. Like a Mustard bush? Come on.
Can you imagine?
To expect a warrior king to come and do justice for all the Roman occupation occurring in the land, and then this man comes claiming to be the Messiah telling the people to "Love your enemies?" No wonder they were up in arms and ready to kill Him.
They were expecting a great kingdom represented by the Cedar of Lebanon, much like this…
The Cedar of Lebanon stood tall and majestic, but the Mustard bush? The people must have thought it a joke. The Mustard bush was a weed. It was illegal to plant in personal gardens because it took off and took over. It squashed all the other bushes, and was quite an annoyance to the people trying to grow flowers and vegetables.
Yet Jesus continued. He kept trying to help people understand the fact the Kingdom of God is much more representative of a mustard seed. It doesn't always take the form of a majestic tree.
It starts small and humble.
It spreads fast, like the mustard weed.
It's aroma spreads fast and is potent to the user.
The mustard seed turns into a bush, low to the ground, available to allow all sorts of animals to find shelter.
The Cedar is majestic. It's tall, ominous, and over powering. But, it takes forever to grow. It's intended only for the Eagle to perch, and it stands in opposition to all the other plants of the field.
I sat listening last night in wonder.
The mustard seed, more powerful than the mighty Cedar?
Jesus, once again, turns the expectations of the people on it's ear, and allows for the Kingdom of God to be accessed by everyone.
May our expectations of the Kingdom match those of Jesus.
May we begin to allow all people to rest in it's branches.
May we take time to understand Jesus' intentions in our own world.