When we think of mustard seeds, our spiritual thoughts might take us toward the passage a few chapters later where Jesus talks about how if the disciples had faith as small as a mustard seed – they could move mountains.
But that’s not what the parable of the mustard seed is about.
In this parable – Christ is describing the growth and the greatness of His Kingdom and of Christianity. And he shows how it begins from the smallest of seeds and grows and grows into the greatest of all movements mankind has ever known.
Let’s look at this short parable one more time – found in Matthew 13:31-32. It reads:
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”
Just like in the previous two parables, we see yet another man planting seeds.
Again, the man represents Jesus, and the field represents the world. Jesus plants his seeds in His field, which is the world. That reminds us that the world is His.
An interesting note here – the word “Took” in verse 31 is from the Greek word “Labon.” This word means specifically to “Deliberately take”, or in other words, to take with purpose – to take with thought. The seed was not planted by chance. It didn’t just happen – Christ deliberately took the seed, planted it, and nourished the growth. It existed because of purpose and thought.
A mustard seed is amongst the smallest of all seeds. But the mustard seed grows into the largest of all the garden plants. In fact, it was known to provide shade for horses and their riders. Its large enough for birds to come and perch in its branches.
How is the Kingdom of heaven like this seed?
Well, Christianity began small. Jesus was one person. Look at what it grew into from one person.
Also, look at the people he used to grow the Kingdom – the disciples were not exactly the “Dream Team” of the day.
Not only that, but the disciples were told on multiple occasions they were of “little faith” by Jesus himself.
Because the mustard seed is planted – a bush is grown – and birds come and lodge in its branches. The passage says the birds COME and PERCH or LODGE in its branches. Oh how true this is for the Kingdom, and for us to be a part of it.
First, we must COME to Christ. (See Matthew 11:28; Revelation 22:17)
But then we must lodge and and live and walk with Christ. (See John 15:4-6; Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:6; I John 1:7)
The Kingdom of Heaven truly is like a mustard seed. It began small – its growing larger and larger today – and one day – it will overtake all evil and destroy it completely.
Here’s an interesting fact I learned about the Mustard plant.
Pliny the Elder was a Roman author who lived in the first century of the Common Era, He wrote about his experience with the mustard plant in his encyclopedic Natural History: “Mustard… with its pungent taste and fiery effect is extremely beneficial for the health. It grows entirely wild, though it is improved by being transplanted: but on the other hand when it is sown it is scarcely possible to get the place free of it, as the seed when it falls germinates at once.
In other words, for those of us who have been in the south long enough – the mustard plant is very similar to Kudzu.
That’s how the Kingdom began – no one really wanted it – it was small – but it began to grow – and it continues to grow today. One day, God will take over the whole world with His goodness – will destroy evil – and will reign supreme.
My question to you is this: wouldn’t you rather be a part of that Kingdom and join it as it spreads its goodness – rather than being part of the evil it chokes out and destroys?