Even though the Lord Jesus in this parable speaks accurately about the size of the mustard seed and the size and use of its tree-like adult form, His purpose in the illustration is proverbial, not scientific. In context of His teachings about the kingdom of God, the parable’s meaning is self-evident—the kingdom, though now seemingly small and insignificant, will one day grow into a large body of believers.
Even with Jesus ministering on earth, God’s kingdom was almost imperceptible, both because its citizens were few and it was spiritual (invisible). Elsewhere the Lord explained it well: “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:20–21). When Christ ascended to heaven, the kingdom on earth was, figuratively and relatively speaking, very small (cf. Acts 1:15).
But the kingdom that began smaller than a mustard seed will grow larger and larger. The Old Testament writers knew that eventually the Lord would “rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth” (Ps. 72:8). They rightly foresaw that all sorts of people, from all stations in life, would honor Messiah, bow down to Him, and serve Him (vv. 9–11). With the apostle, we will one day see the grand culmination: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).
Are you currently involved in something for Christ that seems small in comparison with others’ ministries or talent bases? Be sure that your Lord is the master at taking the seemingly insignificant and transforming it for mighty kingdom purposes.
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610