Jesus spent time trying to explain the kingdom of heaven to his listeners even though He knew that very few would understand. As always, He tried explaining in ways and concepts that they could relate to in order that their eyes might be opened to the truth. The Palestine mustard plant was widely grown and was something that people would have planted in their own pots, courtyard or field so that is where He starts the parable.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants” (Matt 13:31).
There is no mention of Jesus explaining this parable to His disciples, so what was He trying to tell us? In Mark 4 He says, “the seed sprouts and grows… the earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain…” Because the parable is kingdom related, we can confidently assume that the seed is good and we know that good seed refers to the sons of the kingdom, i.e., followers of Jesus.
These followers were currently small in number but from 12 apostles the Church would grow. It would expand across countries and continents and the lost, the lonely, the outcast and the vulnerable would find safety and shelter within it – as Jesus said – “the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” The ‘birds of the air’ collectively represents every species which depicts every nation, tribe and tongue being able to find a home in the Church of God.
The seed may be tiny but its power is immense. If you are a son of the kingdom then that power lives within you and you are part of a living growing Church.