Matthew 13:31-33; Mark 4:21-32; Luke 8:16-18
The Kingdom of God Grows Unnoticed by the World
The topic of each of these parables is the kingdom of God. The Sower was just such a parable illustrating the different “soils” and their varied responses to the message of the kingdom. The other four speak to the kingdom’s growth in the world. These parables are shorter than and different from the “Sower,” showing that Jesus spoke parables in various ways.
The first of the parables we consider speaks to the fact that no one places a lamp under a basket or under a bed but on a stand to give light to a room. Jesus then says, “For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest, nor is anything secret except to come to light.” The meaning is that as one enters the kingdom by faith, God makes secret things, hidden things, come to light. One begins to understand more about the will of God and his ways in the kingdom, in his people, in the world. And better yet, the more one listens with a humble and teachable heart, the more understanding the Holy Spirit gives that believer. On the other hand, the more a believer becomes slack or cherishes some sin in his life, the less the Spirit reveals through His word. So rejoice! It is God’s good pleasure to reveal His will and way to you.
The next three parables are similar. The first speaks of a farmer who plants his seed. He may indeed cultivate, fertilize, weed, and do many other things to ensure a good harvest. But the one thing the farmer cannot do is make the seed sprout and produce. He can provide the best conditions, but the harvest he cannot bring. So it is with the kingdom of God. It is not something that man brings with all his effort. He must be faithful in all he does, virtuous, pure in heart, loving his God and neighbor as himself. But the kingdom no one can bring but God. Then there is the parable of the mustard seed. When it is planted it is the smallest of seeds, but when full grown becomes a large garden plant spreading branches that even the birds may nest and find shade. The same message is taught in the parable of the leaven. In the same way the kingdom of God began very small – a few disciples in Jerusalem – but grew till it now covers the entire globe.
Our Lord came to establish a kingdom. It is invisible now and grows in the most mysterious ways. And our Lord is even now King of kings and Lord of lords. One day, this shall be manifest for all to see, for every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11). Until then, his people trust in his word. They are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ waiting for the day when their faith shall become sight (Romans 8:17).