The Kingdom 1 - The Glorious Church
Updated: Apr 28, 2020
Chan Gin Kai
Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.”
Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
As was his habit, Jesus often taught in parables, and sometimes used a couple of parables with a similar storyline to emphasise an important point. This was one of those times.
A mustard seed is really small and measures only one to three millimetres in diameter. In fact, because of its small size the mustard seed has been used as a simile; Jesus talked about having “faith as small as a mustard seed” (Matthew 17:20). Yet despite how small the mustard seed is, it can grow into a shrub more than three metres tall, and produce more mustard seeds. There are few plants that grow as quickly as mustard in just one season. It also provides shade where birds can perch under.
Anyone who has baked bread knows how yeast makes the dough grow a few times in size. In the second parable, Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to yeast that makes the dough grow. The woman mixed the yeast into 60 pounds (27.2kg) of flour. That’s going to be a lot of bread. It’ll be enough to feed hundreds of people.
Both parables describe how something very small, unassuming and insignificant can become huge and impacting. This is what the Kingdom of God, the Church, is like.
The Church started off pathetically, as a small group of about 120 (Acts 1:15), and with terrible news. How many organisations have their founder die a humiliating death even before it has properly started? And the first thing the organisation had to do was to elect a new committee member because one of them had betrayed the founder and then killed himself (Acts 1:15-26)? Who would expect such an organisation to survive, let alone thrive and become an impact worldwide?
It didn’t take long at all, as just a chapter later in Acts 2, Peter preached at Pentecost and 3,000 were baptised that day. So it was one chapter later, but how many days was that?
Jesus died on Passover Day, and the Pentecost is on the 50th day after the Passover. Since Jesus resurrected three days after he died and appeared to his disciples over a period of 40 days before he ascended to heaven, we can easily work out that what transpired in Acts 1 (which was after his ascension), was only one week before the glorious victory in Acts 2.
Seven days. That’s all it took. From a small group of 120 to a Church of 3,000. From an inner circle that met in secret to a congregation that met in the temple courts. From a pack that started in ignominy to a Kingdom that reflects God’s glory.
The triumphant growth of the Church didn’t stop there. It has spread from a modest upper room of a humble home to the furthest reaches of the world. Kingdoms and empires have risen and fallen, but the Body of Christ has persevered through the centuries. Opposition couldn’t stop it, and persecution only strengthened it. The Church has changed countless lives, and rescued countless souls.
It started with a seed that was willing to die.
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)
The Church grew because of God’s power and the Spirit’s guidance, but it started because Jesus died. The Eternal Kingdom wouldn’t have been possible without his sacrifice.
We live in a depraved world that gradually corrupts everyone in it, but we have the Church to guide us back to the light. We are surrounded by selfish people who’ll step on us to prop themselves up, but we have brothers and sisters-in-Christ who genuinely care for our well-being.
The Church is made up of a bunch of imperfect people, but with the desire to be like Christ. We will have our struggles as a body and sometimes stray from God’s plan. But we can be confident that as long as we stick to His words and allow the Spirit to guide us, we will always get back on the right path. We can be confident with the Church not because our members or leaders are perfect, but because our God is.
If God is willing to let His son die so that the Church can be established, how much more will He do to protect the Church? If God can turn a rag-tag bunch of ordinary unschooled men into world-changers, what impact do you think he intends to make with us?
Jesus suffered so that we may rejoice, he died so that we may live. We may face struggles on earth, but our troubles will soon be over. We will be co-heirs with Christ and share in his glory!
Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:17)
Read more about ‘The Kingdom’:
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry of the Central Christian Church. He describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.