In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells the following parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; it is smaller than all other seeds, but when it grows, it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make their nests in its branches.” In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed that, when sown in the ground, though it is smaller than all the seeds on earth, grows and becomes greater than all the herbs and sends out large branches so that the birds of the sky can nest under its shade.
What does the parable of the mustard seed mean in the Bible?
The Parable of the Mustard Seed | Reformed Bible Studies & Devotions | Ligonier.org Jesus illuminates various truths about God’s kingdom through the various parables recorded in Mark 4 that incorporate the metaphor of a seed growing. The parable of the sower in verses 1–20 indicates that the proclamation of the kingdom will not be received by all who hear it; rather, only the good soil—those whom the Lord has chosen to be citizens of the kingdom—will receive the Word of God for eternal life.
- In the parable of the growing seed (verses 26–29), our Lord emphasizes the mysterious, unseen growth of the kingdom according to God’s good pleasure and the patient expectation of faithful servants who sow according to His decree.
- Today’s passage, the parable of the mustard seed, emphasizes the contrast between the humble beginnings and consummated form of the Lord’s kingdom (vv.30–32).
Our Lord compares the kingdom of God to the mustard seed, which “is the smallest of all the seeds on earth” (vv.30–31). Obviously, there are some seeds that are smaller than the mustard seed. Christ certainly knew that smaller seeds than mustard seeds were planted in first-century Palestine.
- However, the purpose of this parable is not to teach us about botany.
- In the culture of the time, mustard seed was frequently a metaphor for the smallest thing imaginable.
- This usage is adapted by Jesus in this parable.
- His point is that the beginning of the kingdom is so minute that it appears inconsequential.
Almost nobody notices its beginning, just as almost nobody notices a mustard seed. However, the kingdom should not be judged by its humble, nearly indiscernible beginnings. For just as a mustard seed grows into the largest of garden plants, so the kingdom of God ultimately expands to the point where no one can miss it (v.32).
Our Savior’s teachings have been validated by history. He began with twelve common men whom He appointed as Apostles and a small number of other disciples. He lived and died in a province of the Roman Empire that was considered a backwater, and He is only mentioned in passing in secular historical sources of the time.
Since Christ’s ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension, however, the kingdom of God has grown steadily. His church can be found all over the world, and it grows even in hostile regions. The mustard seed is rapidly developing into the mustard plant.
John Calvin explains in his commentary on this parable that “the Lord begins his reign with a feeble and contemptible beginning in order to illustrate his power more fully through its unexpected progression.” There is no other explanation for the expansion of Christ’s kingdom besides God’s handiwork.
The continued existence and expansion of Christ’s church is a powerful demonstration of the truth of His gospel. Originally published in our daily Bible study magazine, Tabletalk: The Parable of the Mustard Seed | Reformed Bible Studies & Devotions | Ligonier.org
What is the moral of the mustard seed parable?
– Background Research This is an excellent parable for children. Frequently, children feel insignificant in church. Sometimes they are treated with the attitude that “children are to be seen and not heard,” or they are simply ignored. Children can be good and do their best, but churchgoers may only notice them when they are “loud” or “running around.” They are diminutive in size, comparable to a mustard seed.
- They must understand their place in God’s family.
- They must understand that they can contribute to the expansion of the kingdom.
- As a Bible Class Instructor, act as a representative for the children of your congregation.
- Remind individuals that they were once themselves small seeds.
- Remind them to exercise patience with the youngsters.
Encourage them to guide and nurture them as opposed to simply judging them. Find ways to bring the young and old together. Host an afternoon tea for the elderly where the children in your class have baked treats. Arrange for your class to visit someone’s home to read them Scripture and sing them songs.
- You will be astounded by the bridges you construct.
- This parable is also found in Matthew 13:31-32 and Luke 13:18-19.
- A six- to twelve-foot mustard bush populated by a flock of birds was a common sight in Palestine.
- The birds delighted in consuming the tiny black seeds.
- In biblical times, mustard seeds were cultivated for their oil and ground into powder for culinary and medicinal purposes.
Jesus’s important takeaway from the mustard plant is that a large, significant plant can grow from a tiny, insignificant seed. This is analogous to God’s kingdom. Think of all the seemingly insignificant events that hold such immense significance: a small out-of-the-way town of Bethlehem, an animal’s manger, an obscure carpenter and his young wife, a group of uneducated fishermen, a few loaves and a few fish, a rooster crowing, a tree whose wood would one day become a cross, and a tomb with the stone removed.
Occasionally, it appears that the small role we play in the kingdom is insignificant. Possibly, we believe that our congregation’s size prevents it from achieving much in the grand scheme of things. The parable of the mustard seed teaches us that even the smallest action can have enormous consequences.
In the beginning, there were only a handful of believers, but the number of people who followed Jesus steadily increased. That is only because those initial few individuals told others. Then, they told a few people. Then those told them additional top
What did Jesus have to say about mustard seeds?
Some of the cornerstones of the Christian life include prayer and worship, but faith is the most important. Having faith in God that He will take care of the future, provide for our needs, and save us. Jesus spoke numerous times in His teachings about the power of faith and used multiple metaphors to describe what faith is and its significance.
- One of the most potent is that faith is comparable to a mustard seed.
- Because of your lack of faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you ( Matthew 17:20 ).
God desires to work with His people, but He will not force them to become puppet-like instruments of His will; rather, He works through them based on their faith, challenging believers to a more intimate relationship with Him.
Is the mustard seed the world’s smallest seed?
Tiny seed even smaller than mustard’s “The kingdom of heaven is comparable to a mustard seed that a farmer sowed in his field. It is the tiniest of all seeds, but when it matures, it is larger than all the garden plants and grows into a tree where birds of the air build their nests.” According to Matthew 13:31–32’s “Parable of the Mustard Seed,” mustard seeds are the smallest in the plant kingdom.
Right? Wrong. Compared to orchid seeds, mustard seeds, which are about 2 millimeters in diameter, are enormous. The majority of orchid seeds are smaller than a salt grain. Consider the dazzling lady’s-slipper orchid, which is our state flower. This plant’s seeds are roughly 0.1 by 0.03 millimeters in size, which is more than 20 times smaller than mustard seeds.
If an attractive lady’s-slipper seed were the size of a golf ball, then a mustard seed would be about the size of an extra-large fitness ball, or slightly more than 3 feet in diameter. On the opposite end of the seed size spectrum, the coco-de-mer or double coconut holds the record for the largest seed.
- Its seeds are more than a foot long.
- Compared to an orchid seed the size of a golf ball, coco-de-mer seeds are as large as a hot air balloon.
- Due to their diminutive size, orchid seeds can be transported over great distances by air currents.
- This allows them to colonize widely separated habitats with relative ease.
Wind is an extraordinarily effective means of seed dispersal. In 1883, for instance, four species of orchids were among the first plants to recolonize Krakatoa, even though the nearest source of seeds was 400 kilometers away. There are two disadvantages to small seeds.
- First, with so little space inside the seed coat, there is little room for the seedling to store nutrients after germination.
- After germination, orchid seedlings face imminent starvation.
- To solve this issue, orchids must form a partnership with a soil fungus that infects the seedling’s cells and satisfies its nutritional requirements.
Without the fungus, the seeds will not germinate and will perish. Small seeds leave little room for the embryonic plant itself, which is a second problem. Unlike the embryos of other plants, orchids lack roots and shoots. As a result, when an orchid seed germinates, it forms an undifferentiated egg-shaped structure known as a protocorm that lacks roots and shoots.
- The protocorm of the showy lady’s-slipper, nourished by its nursemaid fungus, remains underground for two or more years before producing its first leaf.
- This is similar to how kangaroos and other marsupials are born prematurely and complete their development in their mother’s pouch.
- It is acceptable that the Gospel of Matthew does not recognize that orchids have the smallest seeds in the world.
This document was never intended to serve as a scientific guide to seed size. Professor of biology at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University and director of the CSB/SJU Bailey Herbarium and Melancon Greenhouse Stephen G. Saupe holds this view.
What can we discover from the seeds?
Even from a tiny seed, they have almost everything they need to develop into an adult. With water, sunlight, and soil nutrients, they will flourish. We, too, have almost everything we need to become our best adult selves from the very beginning, but we often look at those around us and aspire to be exactly like “them.” Please mark me as outstanding
What characteristics does a mustard seed possess?
Both white and brown mustard seeds are nearly spherical, finely pitted, odorless when whole, and pungent in flavor. White mustard seeds are a pale yellow hue and approximately 2.5 millimeters (0.1 inch) in diameter. Similar in size to yellow mustard seeds, brown mustard seeds are a darker yellow hue.
Have mustard seeds faith?
Mustard Seeds and Faith | Parents | Liberty University In Matthew 10, we learn that Jesus gave his disciples the authority to cast out demons, raise the dead, and heal the sick. They did so repeatedly until we encounter them in Matthew 17 They were unable to expel the demon from the young boy.
After Jesus accomplished what they could not, they approached him in private to inquire why. Because you have so little faith. Truly, I say to you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you (NIV).
This verse is so valuable due to its encouragement. In fact, I have a mustard seed affixed to each of my business cards to give to students and parents when we first meet. As we discuss how “faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains,” I’ve witnessed God’s truth transform despair into hope and discouragement into courage.
- All with a small seed and this scripture.
- I frequently tease the students and their parents by stating that I do not believe the Lord is commanding them to relocate Liberty’s Snowflex or Liberty Mountain to their hometown.
- I do not believe the intent of the verse is to alter the landscape.
- There will be seemingly immovable “mountains” in our lives (sickness, disabilities, financial problems, relationship problems, academic issues, etc.), but if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for us.
Without him, we can do nothing, but with Him (because He is active in our lives), nothing He has given us to do will be impossible. And therein lies the solution! Because He is working within us, nothing He has given us to do will be impossible. I asked the Lord why He chose the mustard seed as an example in this verse a few years ago.
Why, out of all the seeds He created for the world, would He choose to use this one? The fact that the Middle Eastern mustard seed is the smallest seed and grows into the largest tree is especially significant! To discover why, He encouraged me in my spirit to plant some American mustard seeds (since I was unable to obtain Middle Eastern ones).
I did, and I witnessed a marvelous sight! Unlike most seeds, which require at least seven to ten days to germinate and send out a root, the mustard seeds I planted on Sunday afternoon were already sprouting on Tuesday! The seeds I planted in the large pot at home grew to approximately one foot in height, were robust, and even produced flowers.
- Because I placed the pot outside in the yard that summer, the young trees were subjected to heavy downpours and strong winds.
- They were beaten, but they persevered! The Lord taught me that if the seed of faith is planted in the fertile soil of a person’s heart, nourished by His Word, and kept in the Son-shine, it will grow rapidly.
My husband brought the pot close to the house and placed it just outside the front wall of our screened porch under the eaves for protection, as a major storm was forecast for late that summer. I was so relieved that it had survived the storm, but three days later I discovered that all but two of its leaves had been devoured by tiny worms! I could be mistaken, but I believe God has shown me that trials (storms) are beneficial for us.
They test our roots and branches; they keep our faith strong and healthy, despite the fact that we get a bit battered during the storms. What He also taught me is that if we try to keep ourselves “safe” from the big stuff, we must be ready for the small stuff (the worms of doubt, disappointment, fear, disbelief, discouragement, bitterness, etc., that all come from our Enemy).
The Enemy can eat away at our faith and ultimately kill it if we are not in the Word daily, receiving the “Fertilizer” of His promises and the Living Water that is there. James said, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy, because you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has an opportunity to grow.
- So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
- James 1:2-4, NLT).
- Personal experience has taught me that it can be difficult to find joy in great tribulations, but the Lord has brought me through each one and made me stronger with each one.
This is also my prayer for you all! Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You so much for the faith that has provided us with hope. You have stated that it is impossible to please you without faith. In this story, however, our faith does not need to be as large as a mountain.
To move mountains, it must be as small as a mustard seed, and nothing will be impossible for us. Thank you for your encouragement in a time when the world appears to be so upside down that we may lose hope. Lord, help us to increase our faith by remaining in Your word, claiming the promises You’ve already given us, and keeping them in our hearts and minds so that we can live this life on earth for Your glory regardless of what happens.
We will praise You for who you are as well as what you do. I pray in the holy name of Jesus. Amen!