Verse of the Day Devotion. Mark 4:31
“It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil,” Mark 4:31
We now come to the parable of the mustard seed. Jesus starts with the following. “And He said, “How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it?” Mark 4:30. I believe this was a rhetorical question, for I find it had to believe He did not have an answer to it. It was probably said for the benefit of His disciples.
Then He lays out the parable which He presented to the crowd. “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.” Mark 4:31-32. This Parable is a short one. In essence it refers to the Kingdom of God, which He says is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches. The Jews recognized that even from this small seed a large plant, large enough to give shade to a man, could grow.
In this parable, Jesus tells the crowd of amazing growth of the kingdom of heaven. The mustard seed is quite small, but it grows into a large shrub, up to ten feet in height, and Jesus says this is a picture of kingdom growth. The point of the Parable of the Mustard Seed is that something big and blessed, the kingdom of God, had humble beginnings. How significant could the short ministry of Christ be? He had but a handful of followers, He was a man of no rank and without means, and He lived in what everyone considered a unimportant region of the world. The life and death of Christ did not catch the world’s attention any more than a mustard seed would lying on the ground by the road. But this was a work of God. What seemed inconsequential at first grew into a movement of worldwide influence, and no one could stop it. Even Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, understood this. “And so in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action should be of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.” Acts 5:38-39. The influence of the kingdom in this world would be such that everyone associated with it would find a benefit, pictured as the birds perched on the branches of the mature mustard plant.
The history of the church has shown Jesus’ Parable of the Mustard Seed to be true. The church has experienced an explosive rate of growth through the centuries. It is found worldwide and is a source of sustenance and shelter for all who seek its blessing. In spite of persecution and repeated attempts to stamp it out, the church has flourished. And it’s only a small picture of the ultimate manifestation of the kingdom of God, when Jesus returns to earth to rule and reign from Zion.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.