Jesus’ words “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
Have you ever been door-to-door witnessing, street preaching, or done traditional or prescribed sorts of evangelism? While doing this sort of evangelism have you ever felt like you needed to know all the answers and got yourself into a bind debating with a skeptical stranger?
I’ve discovered something almost by accident. When out and about, bumping into unbelievers, I’ve relinquished control. I don’t give answers. I tell interesting stories. I ask weird questions. And I give vague or somewhat mysterious answers. I’ve seen the interest in the other’s eyes pique. Once after only two encounters with an agnostic, he was all but begging me for my testimony. What’s the difference? What if I told you the kingdom of God is like a tree or should I read you the church discipline (parameters for this corner of the kingdom)? Or the kingdom of God is like a guy growing grass seed on his lawn. It’s like the difference between telling someone how great an event is or being sure to tell them (severely) what the entrance fee is.
Jesus didn’t tell the crowds everything. In fact, it is obvious in this passage that he intentionally did not tell the crowds but later explained the details to his disciples.