The disciples had many inaccurate expectations about the Kingdom of God. They wanted Jesus to powerfully crush His enemies and set up a physical kingdom on Earth. In His parables, however, Jesus revealed a very different vision for His kingdom. The kingdom would be like a tiny hidden seed, primarily manifesting itself as the Word of God takes root in the lives of individuals and bears fruit. The method of kingdom advancement would be sharing the Word, and growth would be slow and steady until a future consumption. At that time, God’s majestic rule and reign will be revealed.
And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
Mark 4:21-34 (ESV)
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.