By John C. Carpenter
Speaking to His disciples, the Lord said, ...The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof (Mat 13:31-32). In verse 32, the word “least” is translated from the Greek word “mikros,” which means “small, less, or least in size, quantity, number or dignity.” The word “seeds” is translated from the Greek word “sperma,” which means “something sown, issue, or seed.” The word “grown” is translated from the Greek word “auxano,” which means “to grow, grow up, enlarge literally or figuratively, or increase.” The word“greatest” is translated from the Greek word “meizon,” which means “larger, elder, more, greater, or greatest.” The word “lodge” is translated from the Greek word “kataskenoo,” which means to camp down, remain, or rest.” Christ describes the mustard seed as the smallest of seeds which will be sown, mature and grow into the largest or greatest of trees, and eventually provide rest, protection, and life for those who lodge in it. In our subject verses, Christ uses the mustard seed as an analogy to describe the kingdom of heaven, which also started out very small, was sown in the hearts of man, is growing and maturing, and in time also will provide rest, protection, and life.
Christ used the smallest of seeds in describing the kingdom of heaven, but this same analogy may also be used in describing individuals who are called to a relationship with God through Christ, and into the kingdom of heaven. As we logically expect, most of the individuals called into the kingdom are themselves small, insignificant, weak, and, from the world's point of view, have little or nothing to offer, nothing that is desired by the world. Do you often feel unmotivated, lazy, lacking in social skills, unintelligent, unattractive, incapable, sickly, less successful than others, poor, weak, broken, fearful, full of faults, sinful, guilty, or anxious? Do you think that, because of these thoughts and feelings, God will not, or cannot, love you, save you, or use you in His service? Fear not. God can not only love, save, and use you in all your weaknesses and faults, but He requires that you come to Him with all your weaknesses, faults, sins, infirmities, and insecurities. God is in the business of taking something “least,” incapable, and dead, and making it “greatest,” capable, and alive, all to His glory.
Throughout the scriptures, Jesus Christ explains to us the importance and value of smallness, weakness, and inability in the Kingdom of God. Christ's disciples had asked Him ...what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? (Mat 24:3). Among His many answers, Christ also answered,“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least [least or smallest in size, amount, dignity] of these, ye did it not to me (Mat 25:31-45). Christ compares the least in the Kingdom to Himself. Christ also described John the Baptist as much more than a prophet, yet added Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he [John the Baptist] (Luke 7:28). The disciples of Christ asked Him which of them should be greatest. Scriptures tell us what Christ said: And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great (Luke 9:46-48). The Lord's disciples were asking Him who among them would be the greatest; the Lord responded,And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least [small in size, quantity, number, or dignity] among you all, the same shall be great [big, high, large, mighty, strong] (Luke 9:48). Smallness and greatness are inseparably linked in the Kingdom of God.
Christ also taught His disciples and the multitudes the value He placed upon smallness. In the story of the multiplication of the fishes, we read In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away (Mar 8:1-9). John tell us about Christ's holy anger over the Jews making His Father's house a house of merchandise, and the object Christ used for discipline: And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables (Joh 2:13-15). The scourge Christ used was made of small cords.
What appears to we humans as insignificance appears to the Lord as greatness. Referring to another form of smallness, the smallness found in need or lack, Christ taught the multitudes and His disciples the value He places upon poverty of spirit, mourning, meekness, and hunger and thirst: And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they thatmourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled (Mat 5:1-6). According to God's ways, which are paradoxical to our ways, those who are poor, mourning, meek, and hungry and thirsty, are and will be blessed by God the Father. Interesting, don't you think? In another verse regarding illnesses and poverty [other types of smallness and need], Christ caused the blind to receive their sight, the lame to walk, the lepers to be cleansed, the deaf to hear, the dead to be raised up, and the poor to have the gospel preached to them (Mat 11:5). Christ taught His disciples about the great value He finds in small amounts. Scriptures instruct us, And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing [one-fourth amount]. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance [excess]; but she of her want [want, need, falling short] did cast in all that she had, even all herliving [essential for life] (Mark 12:41-44).
From the beginning of time, God the Father has never shied away from impotence and weakness; He has always been interested in, and had a plan for, human faults and weakness. Scriptures clearly instruct us that, for what the law could not do, because the flesh was weak, God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, in order to condemn the weakness of fleshly sin (Rom 8:3). Paul knew and understood the value of weakness. Paul wrote believers in Corinth, For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you (2 Cor 13:4), and added, For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection (2 Cor 13:9). In fact, God the Father is eager to reveal His secrets of the kingdom to the weak. Jesus verifies this when He prays to his Father in front of His disciples, At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things [of faith and the kingdom of heaven] from the wise [worldly wisdom with arrogance, independent of Christ] and prudent [clever understanding with worldly arrogance], and hast revealed them unto babes [simple minded, immature, babe, i.e., the humble, dependent upon Christ] (Mat 11:25). At the pool of Bethesda, Christ specifically ministered supernaturally to the impotent, blind, halt [crippled], and withered [probably refers to elderly who are ill] (John 5:3). Using a worldly and temporal example as an analogy of the spiritual and eternal invitation to the wedding of Christ to His church, Christ instructed leaders of the Jewish church, Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind (Luke 14:13). Christ is interested in each and every soul, but He is especially interested in those who are broken, impotent, sinful, hurting, and needy. Neither is Christ interested in the intellectual strength. Jewish leaders saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus (Act 4:13). Peter and John were not intellectually accomplished, had no degrees of education, but miraculously healed an impotent man solely through the explosive power of the Holy Spirit. This powerful and miraculous healing was manifested by God through Peter and John because Peter and John had simply been with Jesus.
God the Father appreciates the weakness of mankind because that is when and where His miraculous ability, power, and glory can be manifested. Knowing the importance of smallness, Paul wrote his fellow believers in Corinth, For I am the least [smallest in amount, size, or dignity] of the apostles, that am not meet [worthy] to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me (1 Cor 15:9-10). Paul understood that it was not his greatness, but God's grace, by which he was an apostle and minister when he wrote the Ephesian believers, Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph 3:7-8). It is essential that believers in Christ be faithful in those things which appear to us to be small and insignificant. In the parable of the ten virgins, Christ explains how a few things can result in many things: His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Mat 25:21). In his first letter to the Corinthian believers, the apostle Paul explained how God the Father views the mighty, noble, strong, and powerful things of the world. Paul wrote, But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh [having worldly, earthly knowledge and wisdom], not many mighty [powerful, strong, capable], not many noble [high in rank, important by worldly standards], are called: But God hath chosen the foolish [dull, stupid, absurd] things of the world to confound the wise [worldly wisdom]; and God hath chosen the weak [feeble, impotent, weak, sick] things of the world to confound [dishonor, shame, disgrace] the things which are mighty [mighty, forcible, powerful]; And base [ignoble] things of the world, and things which are despised [contemptible, least esteemed], hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not [do not exist, are not seen, or known by men; i.e., spiritual things and glory], to bring to nought [render useless] things that are [do exist, are seen, and or known by men; i.e., worldly things and glory]: That no flesh should glory in his presence (1 Cor 1:24-29). Christ desires the sinless, strong, and incapable; He desires those who are broken, weak, and sinful. He succinctly explained: They that are whole [able, strong, good] have no need of the physician, but they that are sick [amiss, diseased, evil, grievous, miserable, sick, weak]: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Mark 2:17).
The great apostle Paul contrasted the strength and glory of man and the world with the strength and glory of God when he wrote the believers in Corinth, It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he [the Lord] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength [ability, abundance, might, miraculous power] is made perfect [accomplished, complete, consecrated, finished, fulfilled] in weakness [your feebleness, malady, frailty, disease, sickness, and weakness]. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak [in myself], then am I strong [through Christ] (2 Cor 12:1-10).
Do you feel small, or least? Do you feel dull, stupid, or uneducated? Do you feel emotionally or physically unattractive, feeble, weak, impotent, or sick? Are you lacking in self esteem or self confidence, or living in poverty. Do you have anxiety and fears, feel unsociable, foolish, disliked, unneeded or unwanted? Are you lacking in family or friends? Are you alone and lonely, or single, widowed, or divorced? Have you been shamed, dishonored, or disgraced? Fear not, my friend. Every believer in Christ is like the mustard seed, the least of seeds, that when it has matured, becomes the greatest of trees that even the birds of the air come and lodge in, all to the glory of God. Look what the apostle Paul said: ...the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise [full of wisdom, thinking] men after the flesh [worldly, fleshly, carnal], not many mighty [powerful, capable, able, mighty, strong], not many noble [well born, high in rank, ability, and influence], are called [into a relationship with God the Father, and into membership in the Kingdom of God and Heaven]: But God hath chosen the foolish [absurd, heedless, stupid] things of the world to confound [dishonor, shame, disgrace] the wise [those full of fleshly and worldly knowledge and wisdom]; and God hath chosen the weak [feeble, strengthless, impotent] things of the world to confound the things which are mighty [boisterous, mighty, powerful, strong, valiant]; And base [ignoble] things of the world, and things which are despised [contemptible, least esteemed], hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not [of the flesh], to bring to nought [to make useless, to cause to fail] things that are [of the flesh]: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory [not in the strength of man, but] in [the strength of] the Lord (1Cor 1: 25-31).  AMEN.
TCH Mini-
                    A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was"
(2 Timothy 3:1-9).
A Psalm of David. Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday
(Psalms 37:1-6).
"For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator [Greek, mesites, a go between, an internunciator, a reconciler, intercessor] of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator”
(Hebrews 9:13-16).
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”
(Ephesians 2:8-10).