Jesus encountered a great deal of opposition as he went around teaching the gospel, healing and helping people.
There was the obvious opposition of people like the Pharisees and other religious leaders among the Jews. But there was also the more hidden opposition of people who heard the message, but didn’t respond to it.
Jesus tackled this opposition head-on. He warned about a fig tree that didn’t produce fruit. He also sternly addressed people like the Pharisees — and did so very directly, calling them “hypocrites.”
With all this resistance to the gospel message, one might naturally wonder, “Does God’s kingdom even have a hope? Does the gospel have a prayer?”
How easy it would have been for the disciples to become discouraged. They had left everything to follow Jesus. They had boldly confessed and declared that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, the hope of the world, the Redeemer of all mankind.
But with this kind of constant opposition? What should they expect now? Would their work all end up amounting to nothing?
Perhaps this is why Jesus reminded everyone that his kingdom is designed to grow. The gospel is a powerful force. It will not return empty! It will always have an impact on hearts and minds.
How important it is we remember this! Because today too, we live in a world that seems so opposed to the gospel. We ourselves have hearts that most naturally resist Jesus, and his message of grace, mercy and forgiveness.
We too may become discouraged — until we hear Jesus remind us, as he first reminded the disciples: “My kingdom is built to grow! It is as natural as a tiny mustard seed growing into a tree. It is as expected as yeast penetrating throughout an entire lump of dough.”
“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.'” (Luke 13:18-21, NIV).
Lord, thank you for reassuring me that you designed your kingdom to grow. I know there is great opposition to the gospel in our world, and I sometimes get discouraged by this. But your promises about your kingdom encourage me. Bless my efforts to share the gospel with others who do not yet know it.
Our Bible reading for Friday, April 10, is Deuteronomy 13:1 – 14:29, Luke 13:1-30 and Proverbs 9:1-12.
Header image based on "Mustard seeds" by Jessica Spengler, CC By 2.0