When I read Luke 13:18-21, the hidden power of small things has always captured my imagination. A tiny little seed grows into a tree that provides protection for the birds. The itsy bitsy amount of yeast infiltrates the large amount of dough that makes way for delicious bread. God can use the smallest of things in our world to bring about something grand and good. Jesus declares this is what the Kingdom of God is like, so let’s not underestimate what God can do.
I have always read this verse with a smile on my face and a flood of small insignificant things in ministry that have turned out to be amazing, come to mind. Then I read a commentary on this verse that ruined everything temporarily for me and I have the privilege to pass on another view of this verse to you today. It turns out that the original hearers of these verses didn’t see the mustard seed or the yeast as “good” things. In fact, after they heard these words from Jesus’ mouth we wonder whether they wanted the Kingdom of God to come at all!
The little mustard seed that we like so much, for many farmers it was seen as an invasive weed. A weed that could take over the entire farm soaking up the water and nutrients causing great stress on the crops that were purposefully planted. Also, the people of the day didn’t have bird-watching on their to do list for the weekend as the birds that would find shelter in these branches were considered pest that would eat the seed that the farmers planted.
And yeast was seen as a contaminate that would infect the whole batch. A quick stroll through scripture shows us that yeast is viewed negatively many times! Yeast was not good at the time it was something to be avoided.
What does this tell us about the Kingdom of God? Is the Kingdom like a weed that spreads rapidly and attracts unwanted characters, providing them with shelter? Is the Kingdom of God like the yeast that is unstoppable and will permeate through the whole batch of our lives?
God’s upside down kingdom has a way of disrupting the order of things in our lives and in our world. With the original audience and with us as well, the big question is do we still want this kingdom to come?
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Grace and Peace