The Mustard Seed. [Jesus] said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
Tiny bits — little things — they don’t hold a lot of value in this world of more, more, more.
But here Jesus is, surprising us once again, as he tells us the Kingdom of Heaven starts as the smallest of seeds.
And with this parable, we can start to understand that tiny is where it all starts. The smallest decisions in our lives, made over and over, are what make up a life.
So many times when I am making a bad decision — such as eating that extra brownie or two — I hear that little voice saying, “It doesn’t matter.” And I’m tempted to believe that this small, tiniest of bad choices, isn’t that big of a deal.
And likewise, when I’m about to do something for another person out of love and a desire to help, I often hear that voice saying, “It doesn’t matter.” The enemy of our souls wants me to believe that these small acts of love don’t matter.
He would have us believe that nothing tiny matters. That if we are tiny, we don’t matter. And certainly he’d love for us to believe that if the Kingdom of Heaven starts out so small then it must not matter either.
But that’s all a lie.
You know it, and I know it. And when we really think about it, our small choices, over time, add up.
I think Jesus is trying to teach us that — trying to open our eyes to the fact that small seeds, when planted, grow large in our lives and impact the world.
And in these verses, one of the pivotal parts comes when Jesus points out that the mustard seed is small — “When it is sown in the ground.”
But, of course, we know that heaven doesn’t stay small. It grows.
Jesus tells us, “But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
But how does it grow? By the grace of God? Definitely.
But also, I think God gives us the great gift — as a faith community — to take part in pouring out His Living Water on each other.
At home we have this basil that my friend Mary clipped from her herb garden. She told me to put it in water, because it would last longer, and so I followed her suggestion.
To my amazement, in the following weeks, that basil started to grow roots, and eventually I planted it. This plant, that was destined for death, sprang new life. In a similar way, we were all destined for death until God saved us with the Living Waters of baptism.
Now that basil plant sits on our window ledge where there is plenty of light, and my husband, Justin, waters it (even though he jokes about throwing it out). My friend Mary waters it when she comes to babysit. And of course I water it too.
The plant is flourishing, almost beyond reason, because we are watering it.
When that plant starts to wilt, we know we need to step it up. We need to pour extra water on it.
In a similar way, when we see a member of our faith community — like a wilted plant — struggling in life, we can pour the Living Water of God’s love on them with our small acts of love.
By offering to pray for them, giving them encouragement through meaningful Bible verses, and showing them our love by cooking for them or doing whatever we can to help — we become a community of waterers. God is allowing us to play a small part in the pouring out of His amazing Living Water.
Our family experienced this first hand when my son was diagnosed with leukemia. We were drained and wilting, but our Christian brothers and sisters just kept pouring on the prayers, love, and support. And through their love and prayers, Jesus poured out His Living Water on our family, plumping up the leaves of our faith.
I’m sure many people who showed us love during that hard time felt like their small acts of love didn’t matter much.When someone is in crisis, what we have to offer can seem so small.
But the truth is, every time someone extended themselves to us, reaching out in their small way of love, it mattered. Those small acts of love impacted our life and our story. They watered our faith.
When we act with love toward each other, we are participating in the growth of heaven. And that, my friends, is bigger than all of us!
(I wrote this reflection for a Lutheran Church’s midweek Lenten service. You can watch a video of this reflection being read at the service by my friend, Alison Kern here: The Parable of the Mustard Seed.)