“What should I compare to the sanctuary of God? With what analogy should I use for comparison? It’s like a mustard seed – when it is planted in the soil it is the smallest of seeds in the world; but after it is planted it grows up and becomes greatest of all herbs, with shoots and branches that allow the birds of the air to take sanctuary underneath its canopy.” (Mark 4:30-32)
Was Jesus referring to a location?
As discussed with Jesus' statement about knowledge, translating βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ to "kingdom of God" is a slight mistranslation.
Jesus is not speaking of a place or location, as might be indicated by the word kingdom. Rather, according to the lexicon the Greek term βασιλεία (basileia) - means "royal power, kingship, dominion, rule - not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom."
Therefore, what is being spoken of is not a place or location, but rather, a particular consciousness: The reverence of God - where God is the king or center of one's life and one takes shelter or refuge in God.
This, in fact, is the goal of life, as explained by Jesus:
“The most important of all the instructions is, ‘Hear O Israel – the LORD our God is our only Lord – and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ – this is the most important instruction." (Mark 12:29-30)When we understand that the word translated to "kingdom" actually refers to a state of consciousness - whereby God is the center of one's life - and God is revered and relied upon - this brings new meaning to this parable.
Why does the mustard seed start small and grow in this parable?
Because such a relationship with the Supreme Being - where one accepts the Supreme Being as their life and soul - requires humility. A person who accepts God as the Supreme Being - by necessity accepts themselves as not being supreme. They see themselves with a humble consciousness.
And because such humility allows the person to take shelter in God, this allows such a person to grow to their true potential. This is analogous to a seed being planted in the soil where it can grow and blossom into a fine plant.
Just think about it. Consider what most of us in the world are doing with our lives: We are each trying to be the big guy. We are trying to be the champion. The hero. The big success. Why? Because we want to feel important. We want to feel that we are someone.
Like the old movie line once said:
"I just wanna be somebody."We want to be noticed. We want to be admired. We want to be adored by others. Why?
Is this because we are empty inside?
We want to feel like we are successful because we want to take refuge in being accepted and applauded by others. We have been told that if we are successful, then others will respect us and others will love us. So we chase our goals with the assumption they will bring us satisfaction. But they don't.
Essentially, we want to be recognized because we each want love. But does this actually bring us any love? No. Those in our family might pat us on the back - 'great job...'
But most everyone else will simply be jealous. They won't be happy that we won at something. They want to win instead of us. They want to be recognized. They might applaud us so they don't look bad, but inside they want to be great instead of us.
Such envy is another sign of emptiness. Others feel envious of a winner because they are feeling empty inside. They see everyone applauding the winner and they think that the winner must be happy now.
They don't notice that the winner is also empty inside. All that applause didn't fill up the winner either.
So both the winner and the wanna-be winner are empty inside. The difference is that the wanna-be will now try to become the winner. And the winner will try to win something else. Because both are still empty inside - chasing empty dreams.
This is why many sports champions, movie stars and other famous people will commit suicide or succumb to drugs and/or alcohol: Because winning does not bring any real fulfillment. It doesn't fill up the hole inside.
Were we created to each become self-ascribed gods?
The hole is there because we weren't created to be a champion, or a king, or some other form of self-ascribed god. This is not our natural position. Our natural position is to be a loving servant. Someone who lovingly serves and supports the Supreme Being. This is why He created us.
And this is why we each feel better when we give than when we take.
But God also gave us each the choice to love and serve Him or not - because love requires freedom.
And those who chose not to love and serve Him were sent to the physical world to take on temporary physical bodies, so that we could exercise our freedom. Here we can pretend to be someone we are not and chase our dreams around.
So we try to fill the emptiness created by our no longer loving God by trying to win, in hopes of being loved by people who are envious of our supposed success. We are hoping others will love us as only God can love us.
This is the purpose for this false identity we assume in these physical bodies.
What is our true nature?
These bodies allow us to pretend to be someone we aren't. But even if we pretend to be a winner or champion, we still end up being a servant. We still have to serve - whether it be our fans, our sponsors or the employers or advertisers who write the paychecks.
Should we change our consciousness and give our life to the Supreme Being, taking shelter in Him - this requires us to assume our natural position of humility. This is the position where we accept that God is the champion and God is the winner. And my role is to do what pleases Him.
This role is our natural position. And from such a position comes a different type of greatness - one that acclaims God's greatness - just as the mustard seed grows into a large fruit-giving tree. Jesus spoke of this to his students:
"But this is not the case for you – rather, whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant. And whoever of you will be great will be the servant of all." (Mark 10:43-44)This illustrates our role. We are servants by nature, and our happiness comes from loving and serving the Supreme Being and loving His children. Jesus spoke of his own happiness from serving God:
“My food is to do what pleases Him who sent me and to complete His work" (John 4:34)and
By myself I can do nothing; As I hear, I make choices, and my choices are just because I do not seek to please myself but to please Him who sent me." (John 5:30)We can see by these statements that even though Jesus was walking the earth, his consciousness was such that he was already within the sanctuary of God. His loving relationship with the Supreme Being rendered him completely spiritual.