Today's verses are Mark 4:30-32: "And he (Jesus) 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 seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large brances, so that the bids of the air can make nests in its shade.'" Jesus chooses a final parable by which he explains the slow but steady growth of God's kingdom. He gives this teaching against the backdrop of the people's messianic expectations. They were convinced that when messiah came, he would immediately usher in God's kingdom. Roman rule would be eradicated. God's glorious, perfect kingdom would immediately be inaugurated.
Jesus contradicts this idea. He says the establishment of God's kingdom by messiah will be like a mustard seed sown on the ground. This small seed, once planted in good soil, will slowly but surely grow. It will not be sudden. It will be almost imperceptible. When completed, its roots will be deep and its branches large, long and expansive. Birds will come and rest in its branches.
I think Jesus is giving us two profound teachings here, one general and one personal:
1. Generally, Jesus is showing us the actual truth of God's kingdom's growth. It began with the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Over 2,000 years we have seen it grow, slowly but surely, his church now being established in almost every nation throughout all the earth. And it continues to grow every year until Jesus returns. It's not immediate. It's not spectacular. But it is steady. And people find shade in the rest of God's love in Christ everywhere!
2. Personally, when Jesus the messiah establishes his kingdom rule in our hearts, his growth also is slow, steady but sure. Oftentimes the person in whom Jesus' life has been established can't even see the growth. But it's happening. It's growing. Daily self is dying and Jesus is reigning. It is occurring.
God's kingdom growth, generally and personally, is growing. It's steady and sure. It's seen over time.
Never doubt it. It is happening.