Mustard Seeds in Israel

LIFE Group leader Julie Gilbreath shares a reflection from her trip to Israel to encourage and challenge us during this series, “Gospel Conversations: You will Be My Witnesses.”

Julie Gilbreath with Mustard Plant, Israel

During a lesson in Israel, our leader was talking about how the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed (Matt. 13:31-32). Then he pointed out that I was sitting right next to a mustard plant! I had no idea, but as soon as I was told (and after multiple selfies) I began to see it everywhere. In the South, we have kudzu. In Israel, they have mustard plants.

When Jesus said that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, he wasn’t just referring to its size. Once a seed hits the ground, it’s unstoppable. It’s invasive and unwelcome, and it outgrows everything around it. One seed can overrun a garden, then a yard, then a neighborhood, then a country.

God works in unexpected ways. A baby born in a stable. A carpenter. An itinerant rabbi and prophet. Crawling out of a tomb after being executed. It all sounds crazy. But God is mysterious and supernatural. His kingdom is sneaky and subversive. Inverted. The opposite of what we’re looking for. It’s near us, among us, but until someone points it out and tells us what it is, we never see it even though we’re sitting right beside it.

Shortly after his resurrection, Jesus talked with two disciples on the road to Emmaus but they didn’t recognize him. Mary thought he was the gardener until he said her name. Thomas needed proof. We’re all the same, and that’s why God came down. It was Jacob’s dream come to life — “Surely the LORD was in this place and I was not aware of it.” (Gen. 28:16)

This is the good news of gospel: the king came to us — a heavenly kingdom within reach. And now it’s everywhere. Relentless and unstoppable. But we didn’t recognize it until someone told us it was there all along. So go and share the good news, friends. Go plant a seed.

 

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