He presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES."
Insights: In this parable we again have a farmer who is planting his crops. In this case the crop is mustard which normally grows to seven or eight feet, but occasionally grows as tall as fifteen feet. Jesus was telling them the external power of the kingdom, which results in the largeness, was not dependent upon the smallness of the mustard seed in the beginning. Many liberal theologians attempt to criticize this parable and say it is nothing more than an exaggeration. Their argument is that the wild orchid seed is smaller than a mustard seed. The Greek word Jesus used in verse thirty-two is lachanon and refers to garden vegetables, or stated more plainly garden greens that are grown purposely to be eaten unlike the wild orchid. Now, of all of the seeds that were sown in the past or present in Israel, to produce edible products, the mustard seed was and still is the smallest. Jesus, therefore, is speaking within a framework in which what He says is exactly correct. These critics go on further to say that in the parable Jesus says it becomes a tree and everyone knows it doesn’t become a tree. Jesus is not talking about a timber tree, but of a shrub so large that it has the properties of a tree. The property He was specifically referencing was birds live in trees. Botanists tell us that in a certain time of the year the branches of the mustard bush becomes so rigid that birds build their nests in them. The parable was also speaking proverbially. Jesus wasn't trying to give us a lesson on botany and people don't need to get so nit-picky about it. We have proverbs even today. For example, a person might be said to be as wise as an owl. We don't mean that the smartest thing in the world is an owl. The Jews had a lot of parables referencing the size of a mustard seed. For example, they talked about a tiny breach of the Mosaic Law being defilement the size of a mustard seed. The Jews also talked about a blemish or a spot on an animal the size of a mustard seed. Jesus was using this parable in this kind of proverbial since.
- Does your life display the external power of God’s kingdom?
- Do you find it amazing how even in a proverbial sense Jesus’ words are accurate?
Prayer: Father, let my speech be like Your Son’s and be true. Let my life also display Your external power here on earth. Amen.