“The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed…” When I read those words my mind often pictures the large shrub of a mustard plant that has grown from such a humble beginning as a mustard seed. Perhaps yours does, too.
Among the many excellent points that Anthony Esolen makes in a Touchstone magazine essay from years ago is that we are apt to think that the parable has to do with the lowly beginnings of the Kingdom, beginnings that are then swallowed up in greatness and are never seen again.
If that were His point, Jesus could have said, “The Kingdom of God may be compared to the cedar of Lebanon, the mightiest and most beautiful of all the trees, even though it came from a small seed.” But, He didn’t.
The emphasis here certainly doesn’t exclude the great and wonderful things God has brought about in the world. Not at all.
But the emphasis is that the greatness of God can be found in the seemingly smallest of things. In the Christian faith the small is not transcended and dismissed.
And one example would be the thief on the cross next to Jesus; the thief who comes to faith. The greatness of God is found in a movement of the heart.
Whatever brought them there, these two beside Jesus were not good men. They were wicked men deserving of this worst of punishments. But something turned in the one man’s heart. It was an impulse, the smallest and most secret of responses to the call of God. The thief who has been so bad says to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” This is the mustard seed, the speck of yeast in the dough. “Truly I say to you,” says Jesus, “this day you will be with me in Paradise.”
All the wonder, power, and grace of God is in this almost imperceptible turn. Thanks be to Him for this gift and for its continued growth in us.