And he 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 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 4:30-32 ESV)
The massive tree pictured above the passage of Scripture is a mustard tree. I always wondered about this comparing the Kingdom to a mustard tree. Being from Michigan the only mustard anything I ever seen in a plant is a scrawny, ugly little plant invading our garden. I was sure Our Lord did not mean this little plant familiar to me as the best allegory for the Kingdom of God.
In his Small Catechism Martin Luther speaks of the second petition in the prayer Jesus taught us:
The Second Petition.
Thy kingdom come.
The kingdom of God comes indeed without our prayer, of itself; but we pray in this petition that it may come unto us also.
How is this done?--Answer.
When our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead a godly life here in time and yonder in eternity.
In the close context we see Jesus speaking of a sower going into a field to cast seed. Who is this sower? One initial thing to look for when examining a parable is to determine where the Holy Spirit has located himself.
The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
(Mark 4:14-20 ESV)
We see that the Spirit of Our Lord spreads the seed of the word. He does this through the means of those men he has called to the public ministry. It is necessary that each believer in Christ attend to the means God uses to give unto us his grace and the forgiveness of sins. To remember the promises of the forgiveness of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit Our Lord gave us in Baptism. To hear the message of repentance and the forgiveness of sin in the name of Jesus. To receive his Body and Blood in the Supper of Our Lord for the forgiveness of sin, life and Salvation.
Also every believer has the privilege of participating in the spread of the Gospel. Those of us who have children can share the joy of reaching them with this Good News. We can speak with family members, co workers and neighbors as Our Lord gives us opportunity. It is incredible what can happen when we prayerfully make ourselves available for this purpose.
In the name of Jesus. Amen. †