Who is on the branches?
Mark 4: 30-34 “Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” 33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.”
One of the many Messianic prophecies can be found in Ezekiel 17: 22-23 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. 23 On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches.”
It is this kind of OT prophecy that Jesus has in mind when he gives this parable. Judah is small and is planted but from this tribe will come a branch where the birds will perch, not to swoop down and take the seed as in the other parable, but that they themselves will find security from their own dangers.
Jesus is speaking about himself. He is the Messiah branch of Judah. The birds are people, nations, maybe for that generation the Roman oppressors. The image is that the kingdom of God is peaceful. It has turned enemies into participants of the kingdom. It all happened from the smallest of seeds.
Our application would be this: Whatever you are trying to do for God, it may look really insignificant, so small that nothing good looks like it will happen. Yet from that act of kindness, that spoken word, your testimony shared, this gospel that we live for, then from that can grow something beyond our imagination.
Yesterday I visited Tamworth Elim Church which has so far provided 17 tonnes of food for local people who are struggling financially. Where did that mountain of provision come from? It was an idea sown into the mind of the Pastor in 2011. An idea, that is all!
Today you may only have an idea. You may only have your testimony. You may only be … you finish the sentence off. It doesn’t sound much at all. But out of this small thing you are doing for God then it can surpass your wildest dream. So much so that it can impact today the robbers of yesterday (the birds) and the miracle will not be just the growth of the seed but who sits in the branches! This is the kingdom!