What’s so special about mustard seed?

BirdInMustardTree“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.” (Matt. 13:31-32 KJV)

“And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.” (Luke 17:6)

Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. He also said, if you had faith as a grain of mustard seed you could do miracles.

Why did he use mustard seed to compare those things?

Mustard seed, he said, is the least of all seeds. And it is tiny, very tiny. But if left alone to grow, that one tiny seed will make a bushy tree large enough for birds to nest. Okay, that’s pretty neat.

But that’s not the most important thing about a grain of mustard seed. Not the essential thing.

The seed has to be alive or it won’t grow. You can prepare the soil, plant the seed with care, water and feed it, cultivate and weed it. But if the seed is dead, it will just rot in the ground. It must be alive.

Seeds are fascinating to me. Do you know where all the plants on earth came from, to begin with?

“Then God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them’; and it was so.” (Gen. 1:11, NASB)

Also notice: “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind’; and it was so.” (Gen. 1:24 NASB)

So, did God make the plants first? Or did he make the seeds first? Interesting question! Actually he made the dirt first. The seeds were contained in the earth itself. Plants and animals came from that earth, including Adam himself.

The point is this: God imparted life to the seeds. Every seed of every kind since then has needed that supernatural, God-given life to survive and to thrive. Even the tiniest of mustard seeds. (Of course, if you never plant a seed… you know what I mean.)

Well, where does the kind of faith Jesus meant come from? It’s not the normal, ordinary, human-only belief. This faith is a gift, freely-given but requiring a willing recipient. Grace is free, but it’s not automatic.

Jesus was blunt when he confronted his own disciples about their lack of faith. Didn’t they have it? If they did, most of them didn’t exhibit it on those occasions.

Only Peter walked on water, the rest didn’t even attempt to. Mustard-seed faith, even that tiniest of tiny faith, was powerful enough to create the entire universe. And later it would be powerful enough to take the Gospel around the world.

Over the years I’ve written and taught a lot about seeds, and about faith. Here are links to several of those articles. Hope you’ll click and read.

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