To understand these two parables we need to transport ourselves back to first century Palestine and into the minds and experience of Jesus’ early followers.
It was pretty clear to all his followers that Jesus’ had some earth shattering and life changing to impart. Nothing less than a change of perception of what the world was really like, who God was and how we could best relate to God.
It was the kind of message that was presented as being universally valid to all people at all times – a change of consciousness so profound it would feel as if we had been born again to a new way.
Yet when they looked at themselves, a rag tag, unremarkable, powerless and small group of people, a subject people in an occupied country, in a dusty outpost of the Roman empire I can imagine their confidence draining out of them. If they didn’t ask the question directly, Jesus must have intuitively understood what was in their hearts.
Hence the parable of the mustard seed. Something so very small, a mere speck is sown, yet it has the potential to grow to become an enormous great plant. That speck is the Spirit of God, an idea sown into people’s hearts that has the potential to grow into something huge if sown and cultivated in the right way. And that doesn’t always happen of course and there is an even more famous parable about that as well - the parable of the sower..
The second question leading on from that was, well OK we’re going to be huge but when? How long does it take to grow because nothing much seems to be happening. Hence the parable of the seed growing secretly.
It can take a long long time to grow and it develops secretly and silently so we have no real way of knowing how it is doing in the meantime so don’t be so anxious about it.
But what is the nature of that seed, what does the seed consist of, what is that germ of an idea?
Well Jesus didn’t go around saying he was the messiah – that wasn’t a part of his preaching, so if you were in a crowd 2000 years ago listening to Jesus what would you have heard?
Well his opening gambit and main premise was “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand”. And you will find that every other parable in the New Testament is a commentary on that Kingdom and its qualities. To go beyond your mind and perceive the presence of God within yourself and act accordingly in relation to that presence of the Spirit is the root of the message of Jesus. That is what you would have heard. That is the mustard seed that Jesus wanted to plant in us.
We need to provide the space and time to cultivate that seed so that over time it grows into this magnificent tree. Sitting in God’s presence, we eventually become a tree big enough to shelter and give support to others.
For the seed to grow in and through our lives it needs to be both sown and received. So here is the seed being sown. “Go beyond your mind. The kingdom of God is within you”.
Open your mind and heart to this message and let the seed be sown within you.
Go beyond your mind. The kingdom of God is within you. As Jesus says elsewhere “Those who have ears to hear. Let them hear”.
Go beyond your mind. The kingdom of God is within you.