Bible stories : The Parable of the Mustard Seed? Like with all parables, the purpose of the Parable of the Mustard Seed is to teach a concept or “big idea” using elements or details, like birds, weeds, and growth, that are common, easily recognized, and usually representational of something else. While the elements themselves do have importance, an overemphasis on the details or literal focus on an element usually leads to interpretive errors and missing the main point of the parable. One of the possible practical reasons that Jesus used parables is that parables teach a concept or idea by using word pictures. By depicting concepts, the message is not as readily lost to changes in word usage, technology, cultural context, or the passage of time as easily as it might be with a literal detailed narrative. Two thousand years later, we can still understand concepts like sameness, growth, the presence of evil influence, etc. This approach also promotes practicing principles rather than inflexible adherence to laws. Further emphasis on a singular point is given when multiple parables are given consecutively on the same subject, as is the case with the Parable of the Mustard Seed.
Matthew 13:31-32 tells the parable of the mustard seed: “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.” Using parables, Jesus related truth through intriguing stories with familiar settings. Our grasp of this parable hinges upon a correct understanding of its key elements: the sower, the mustard seed, the great tree which grew from it, and the birds which perched on its branches.
Jesus told us this story and he says that the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. It’s one of the smallest seats, but when planted, it grows to become one of the biggest garden plants that even birds can come and perch and find shade and shelter. You know that’s pretty crazy is that all of us, when we were about one week old inside of our mother’s belly, we’re about the size of a mustard seed. After two months, we were the size of a blueberry. For months we were the size of an Apple, and at nine months, just before we were born, we were about the size of a watermelon.
You know, some of us have grown pretty big since then, but even the tallest and biggest person is still really small because we live in such a big world. Did you know that it would take about 350 days to walk around the world? That’s 30 million seconds, but guess what? Even our world is really small. Our world could fit into the sun about 1 million times, but you know the craziest thing is our God is even bigger than the sun. In fact, our God is bigger than anything you could imagine. Now, that’s a pretty big God, but you know, Jesus tells this story because he wants to tell us that when we get a little bit of God into our lives, that that changes everything.
Our God likes to use really small things and really small people to do really big things. We use David who is just a small boy to take on a giant named Goliath. He used a man named Gideon who was the smallest of his family to be the leader of an army. Jesus when he was on earth, even went to eat at the house of a very tiny man named [inaudible] who was so small that in order to see Jesus, he had to climb into a Sycamore tree. Now, that’s the really cool thing about God is that no matter how small we are and we all are very small, he still wants to use us. See even more information on the The Parable of the Mustard Seed video on YouTube.
The kingdom of God, says our Savior, is like the mustard seed, which “is smallest of all the seeds on earth” (vv. 30–31). Now, of course, we know that there are some seeds smaller than the mustard seed. In fact, in first-century Palestine, smaller seeds than mustard seeds were planted, and Christ certainly knew that. But our Lord’s point in this parable is not to give us a lesson in botany. In the culture of the day, the mustard seed was often used proverbially for the smallest thing one could think of. Jesus adapts that use in this parable. His point is that the beginning of the kingdom is tiny to the point that it seems insignificant. Hardly anyone notices its start, just as almost no one pays any attention to a mustard seed.