043Kingdom of Heaven and the Sowing of the Mustard Seed –


The late Rev. Obie Matthews used to say, “Some folk are so heavenly bound, they are no earthly good!” I am thinking today about his big, boisterous laugh at the well-intentioned Christians who simply get the faith wrong. Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that is sowed in his field. Let’s break this parable down.

Jesus starts by saying, “The kingdom of heaven.” The kingdom of heaven is at least two dimensional. The first level is here on earth. I believe Jesus came to earth not just to prepare us for life beyond death, but also to show us how to live. What good is a heavenly death if we have not learned how to live? It bothers me to find some Christians who will look the other way and put up with racism, sexism, and fascism, all in the name of things will be better when we get to heaven.

This week, we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, who championed the civil rights for all people. Dr. King believed in heaven, prayed for heaven, and died in the faith of going to heaven, but he also believed that all persons should be treated equal with the same rights to receive a public education, access to public accommodations like lunch counters, and the right to vote. To Dr. King, the kingdom of heaven, was not just a prize to be obtained upon death, but right here on earth!

Matthew 13: 31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” [1]

Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to the sowing of a mustard seed. It was not only the faith of the mustard seed, but the sowing of the seed. The seed must be selected, planted, watered and watched, and eventually, with the help of the sunshine, the seed grows into a productive plant and if left alone long enough, a big tree. This is a great analogy for how we must work toward the building of God’s kingdom on earth. You and I and other people of good will and faith must work to convince the world of the power of love, equality and justice. As we work to establish a world order in the spirit of Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God will become a reality, not just in death, but also in life.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. How would you describe the kingdom of heaven?
  2. Why do you think Jesus compared the sowing of a mustard seed to the kingdom of heaven?
  3. Is it the seed or the sowing of the seed that should be compared to the kingdom of heaven?


Prayer: Lord, grant me the faith, energy and commitment to sow faith in your word for the building of your kingdom. Lord, make me proud to be a witness for you! Make me proud to tell the world what you have done for me! Make me unashamed to admit that when I was down, you lifted me up! When I was lost, you came for me and found me! When I could not see my way, you gave me direction. Help me to pray right, live right, love right and do right in your sight. In Jesus name. Amen.


Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

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[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mt 13:31–32). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.