Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
In Matthew 13, Jesus explained his kingdom with word pictures when he said,
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest garden plant and becomes a tree, so that the birds perch in its branches” (Mat 13:31-32).
When I was growing up, we used soupy-smooth bright yellow mustard for sandwiches and finely ground dry mustard in recipes. Today, we’re more adventurous–we have a small bottle of hot mustard, some smooth dijon mustard, and a plastic squeeze bottle of grainy dijon. The grains in the dijon are crushed seeds–certainly not the smallest seeds in a modern garden–but small enough to make a point.
Jesus’ point is the marvelous discrepancy between the smallness of the seeds when they are sown and the large plants that result. Tomato seeds are also small. Put one in your mouth sometime and try to crush the slippery thing. Then think about what tomato seeds become in summer–large tomato plants supported on stakes or trellises, growing a harvest of cherry or heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes.
Jesus says that’s what the kingdom of heaven is like. It starts small and powerless, almost invisible, and grows into a lush and fruitful plant. When we pray, “Your kingdom come”, we ask that God’s kingdom which today seems small and invisible and ineffective, will grow as Jesus promised into something large and world-conquering.
Jesus also said, “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman mixed into sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough” (Mat 13:33).
This woman is not your average home chef making a loaf or two of bread. She’s a serious baker, starting with three twenty-pound bags of flour!
My wife made ciabatta buns recently, but she didn’t start by sending me to Costco for twenty pound bags of flour. She used three cups of flour in a no-knead recipe. The other three ingredients were: a cup-and-a-half of cold water, a teaspoon-and-a-half of salt, and one quarter teaspoon of yeast. After mixing the ingredients at 3:00 one afternoon, she let the dough rise on the counter for 19 hours. At ten the next morning, it was properly risen, and soon we had fresh buns for snacks and supper.
Jesus’ point is that the kingdom of heaven looks like it’s lost itself in the dough of the world. But in fact it is the controlling ingredient. It is present and active in the whole batch–the whole world– preparing it for the great bake-off when the doughy mess will become a feast of bread.
Our father, we pray “Your kingdom come”. But we don’t see much evidence that your kingdom is on its way. Is your kingdom still at the mustard seed stage? Growing silently and unobserved toward its final form? Getting ready for an unscheduled but certain harvest?
Is your kingdom like the leaven, already permeating the whole world, silently and invisibly preparing it for the day of your return?
O Jesus, you are the bread of life. Take the small leaven of your kingdom we hold in our hearts, take the small mustard seed of our faith. Let it work in us and in the world, until you, the king, come out of hiding and reveal the kingdom you have built.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.