Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
This parable has such immense depth to it. Yeshua obviously was trying to give us an understanding of the Kingdom of Heaven. And the parable hints at a "process" that must be undertaken to experience this Kingdom. The fact that He likened it to a mustard seed must be for a specific reason.
Those of us who know Jesus as our Savior, know that the Gospel Message is at the heart of our Salvation. Believing that Jesus died to bear the punishment for our sins, was buried, and was resurrected to sit at the right hand of God is the prerequisite for that Salvation, and our Salvation is merely the entry point to the Kingdom.
I may have shared with you an analogy that a friend once gave me ... If the Kingdom of Heaven is like a huge mansion with lots of rooms, then Salvation gets you in the door and gets you as far as the entry hall. To receive the fullest extent of the Kingdom, one must "advance" through the process that Salvation begins.
So what does this have to do with the Parable of the Mustard Seed? I believe the kingdom is like a tiny mustard seed that eventually fills the earth. Salvation is the planting of the seed; the Kingdom is the process of it filling the earth. We know that all the elements of becoming a tree are present inside that smallest of seeds. When we accept the gift of Salvation, all we need to inherit the Kingdom is inside of us, in the form of the Holy Spirit. Just as the seed grows in stages to become a tree, so does the Kingdom grow in us until its fullness at Yeshua’s return.
But what are the stages we must grow through to receive that fullness of the Kingdom? My friends at Revive Israel have summarized these stages and given us a complete sense of how we must participate in order to experience all that the Kingdom of Heaven has to offer. The seven stages are:
Salvation - forgiveness of sins and eternal life through repentance and faith in the crucifixion and resurrection of Yeshua.
Holy Spirit Baptism - filled with the power and presence of God, producing fruit of character and gifts of influence in the life of the believer.
Sanctified Life - setting yourself apart from the world and living as a dedicated disciple of Yeshua, including obedience to the Scriptures.
Social Justice - changing the world and society around us for better through the influence of godly values and spiritual power; it is not changing the world through political and social agendas.
The Church and Israel - witnessing and working for the historic fullness, restoration and unity of both the Church and Israel, leading up to the coming of Yeshua.
The Second Coming - preparing all the people of God to stand in the End Times, declaring the soon coming of Yeshua in glory and judgment.
The Millennial Kingdom - the kingdom of the Messiah will be established on earth with peace among the nations and Yeshua ruling from Jerusalem.
Can you see that our Salvation is the seed that is planted in us, and that through spiritual growth and maturation, we can progress to the full realization and experience that is the Kingdom of Heaven? There are multiple dimensions of the kingdom of God, starting with repentance and salvation, yet ending up with Yeshua ruling and reigning on this planet. Please don't think that Salvation is the only goal! The importance of growing that small seed into a full-blown tree will have more and more significance as we approach Yeshua’s return.