You will misunderstand Jesus’ kingdom if you fail to grasp the organic metaphors that describe it. It is a seed, a field, yeast. His people are sheep, branches, and living stones. Jesus’ kingdom is alive, and functions on the same principles as every other living thing He made.
Some people think that Jesus and the leaders in His kingdom reject power. They fail to see how He brought the powerful kingdom described by the prophets. But the prophets themselves compare the coming kingdom’s power to organic life.
In days to come Jacob shall take root,Isaiah 27:6, ESV
Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots
and fill the whole world with fruit.
Filling the whole world with fruit is no small feat. It is much more impressive than collecting taxes and enforcing laws. The only reason it might not look impressive is that it takes a long time.
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”Matthew 13:31-33
Creation and multiplication are more powerful than destruction. Jesus focuses on building something good and lasting before removing imperfections. When the mustard seed was planted, every other kingdom was essentially defeated, because they could not stand against the power of life that would soon overshadow everything they had built. They could not stop the leaven of the kingdom from transforming their kingdoms from the inside.
As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.Daniel 2:34-35
Jesus’ kingdom is powerful while it is small. His divine claim to authority strikes at the root of any competition. Goliath was wrong to laugh at David’s stone, because in God’s hands it was powerful. A mustard seed of imperishable life will grow, and no one will stop it.
Christians exercise life-giving power as they speak the message of the kingdom. Sometimes the word takes root in someone’s heart and produces fruit, a hundredfold or sixtyfold or thirtyfold. Other times the word is ignored, and the hearer is left with a real threat of judgment. In both cases, Jesus’ power is on display. If it seems weak, that is only because it takes time to see the results.