A tree with birds. The more we listen to His word, the more capacity He will give us to take it in and understand it. Matthew’s mustard seed is bounded by two parables with negative meanings. In a memorable and intriguing parable, Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a microscopic mustard seed that grows into a towering tree. But this insignificant little group of disciples with Jesus (a tiny seed operating underground and a powerful pinch of yeast hidden in flour) is the seed of a great kingdom led by One who will be great (1:32). We saw last week that the parable of the seed growing mysteriously spoke of the transition period and how the kingdom of God would grow to maturity by the end of the age. The Parable of the Yeast has essentially the same meaning as this parable of the mustard seed. The mysteries unveiled in these parables cover the entire span of Christian history… To interpret these parables properly, we need to take care of the facts of history. The way this parable is commonly taken also applies here: the synagogue ruler can’t see the presence of the kingdom in Jesus’ ministry, even when Jesus performs a healing right in front of him. 22. Let me start with Matthew. “First, the kingdom is the issue of the gospel, and then it is the goal of the gospel. Thanks for the time and energy you put into it! G. H. Pember, The Great Prophecies, p. 291 20. His messages from this perspective on Mark are truly classic and are the basis of a compelling approach to the big picture of Mark’s gospel that he fully develops in the fourth volume of that study. A full grown mustard plant can be very large compared to other herbs—around 10-12 feet tall, according to many. To recap where we are so far: a text can have different meanings when it is set in different contexts, and this could very well be true for this parable. Throughout His ministry, Jesus told many parables to help explain a Biblical truth. 21. :32 But when it has been sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out great branches, so as to enable the birds of the air to roost under its shade. 12. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” 9. More in Modern Day Parable. Lee says that Mark 4 shows that the kingdom is the essence, issue, and goal of the gospel. Today, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association stands as an example of the parable of the mustard seed. He said God’s kingdom is like a man who planted a mustard seed in his garden. our behavior should reflect our nature and lead others to glorify God. 18. It is an interesting textual link, as Babylon the Great is described as “a hold of every unclean and hateful bird” (18:2), which matches the birds in the branches of the tree in Matthew. mustard seeds image courtesy of photobucket.com He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. He is also the opponent at law, representing the Mosaic law, from which this woman needs to be released (12:58, 13:16). What about the birds? It’s a vine-like weed which will grow and grow and will intertwine with other weeds. And then they’ll come into contact with a flower, which will be overtaken by the weeds. Jesus then calls them hypocrites for not being able to discern “this time,” i.e. Their accounts are already interpretations (albeit inspired ones). ( Log Out / belief,church,community,cultural relevance,evangelism,God,Gospel,heaven,Jesus Christ,parables,Vince Antonucci with See also the end section entitled “Discerning Interpretations” in this post for more on this. In this post I want to look at how they are not as mutually exclusive as they may at first appear to be, and that both can be held in creative tension, if understood properly. What does it mean? And he was talking about plowing a field. But when we live it out as it’s supposed to be, watch out. Also, Matthew expands his parables to the highly symbolic number 7, which in many places represents completeness. They are painting real events in a certain light to convert and instruct. The church responded to and saw meaning in Jesus’ parabolic teaching, in the light of its post resurrection situation, often developing allegorizing interpretations to express its new insights. I think there are a few key points to make in approaching the interpretation of this parable, so I outlined things to make it easier to follow and jump between sections. The Meaning of the Mustard Seed Parable In a memorable and intriguing parable, Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a microscopic mustard seed that grows into a towering tree. I appreciated your setting the tone at the start by showing precedent for different interpretations given different contexts. After a tightly knit sequence of verses, Jesus introduces the parables with an interpretive “therefore” (13:18). The synagogue ruler is a hypocrite who can’t read the “weather signs” in Jesus’ activity and therefore doesn’t respond rightly. This is the kingdom that Jesus will bring in at his second coming. Or by what parable shall we compare it? Ibid., p. 306 The manifestation of the kingdom is the goal of our growth in the divine life. It is an extremely powerful and moving chapter. The parable of the mustard seed (Mark 4: 30–32) The mustard seed was the smallest seed, but it grew into a huge plant. Ivan tells a story he’s made up about the Grand Inquisitor visiting an imprisoned Jesus awaiting trial in Seville, Spain around 1500. Mustard was a common agricultural product that grew quite prolifically. Growth brings in harvest, harvest yields universal kingdom. :31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that are in the earth. Here are some examples that illustrates this. The nations will walk by the city’s light; and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it. He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Bengel had already made this point in 1742: These seven parables have a most recondite meaning, applying especially to distinct periods of the Church’s history and condition, besides the common and universal principles which they teach concerning the course and administration of the kingdom of heaven. But that inability does not undermine or negate its glorious, certain consummation in a kingdom over all the earth. A text can have at least two different contexts: a textual one and a historical one. “With what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you” And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? They have an enduring relevance to all churches at any time (each letter to one church is said to be spoken to the “churches”). Determine the one central truth the parable is attempting to teach. Thanks for taking the time to write the post! This picture of the church is powerfully captured by Dostoevsky in his famous chapter “The Grand Inquisitor,” in Brothers Karamazov. Look into Matthew 13 being modeled after Leviticus 23. He is freeing spiritual captives not political ones. In Mark, Christ is the light (“the lamp that has come”) and the mystery of His identity and kingdom will not remain concealed. This is also true of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3. Ezekiel 31 and Daniel 4 describe Assyria and Babylon like this. Each story is inspired by the day to day life of an ordinary woman. What evil is it if an exegesis [that an interpreter] gives is one shown to be true by You, light of all sincere souls, even if the author whom he is reading did not have that idea and, though he had grasped a truth, had not discerned that seen by the interpreter?. The variety of mustard grown in Palestine was quite like the mustard weed that now grows all around Southern California. Rich Man Learns He’s Valued The Wrong Things When ‘Wife’ Refuses To Help Him On His Deathbed. Since the disciples (and second generation, since Mark and Luke weren’t disciples) only had 3 1/2 years with Messiah (the Word made flesh) and only had a limited amount of sayings/parables/etc., they had to use the same parables for different purposes. the many parables of someone being cast out). A mustard seed is a perfect fit for a “smaller than, greater than” illustration. 1, p. 145 Send forth the sickle, for the harvest is ripe… (Joel 3:12-13). 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. Matthew is using the mustard seed parable negatively, to portray an unnatural and disastrous development of the church within history. When Jesus casts out demons “the kingdom of God HAS come upon you” (11:20). Luke is saying that even though Jesus refuses to pander to sign-seeking crowds, His identity cannot be hidden if you focus on the wisdom of His teaching and the power of His preaching. It is like AIDS, which infected one person but soon spread and spread and became an epidemic as scores of people received it.”. George Campbell Morgan (1907) sums up the main point with two phrases: “unnatural development” and “unintended issue.”, An important factor in this interpretation is not just the two proof texts, as tenuous as they may seem to some, but that the herb becomes a tree in the course of church history (I will revisit this in Mark’s version, in which the transformation appears after the harvest). Let the nations rouse themselves and come up… for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Our growth in life has cosmic consequences! The reality of the kingdom is the issue of our reception of the divine life. However when a child of God aka … It didn’t properly respond to the obvious signs of the coming of the kingdom in Jesus ministry. Yes, perhaps more difficult than, “A needle in a … Continue reading "Parable Of The Mustard Seed" Between the issue and the goal we have the church.” The eternal kingdom of God will be “the full development of the gene sown in the Gospels by Jesus.”. ~ Matthew 13:31-32. In this lesson, we will study the Parable of the Mustard Seed found in Mark 4:30-32. Because they knew that it would grow and grow, invade the vegetables and other plants, and eventually take over the garden. Have you ever thought about the the parable of the mustard seed in this way? Why was it against the law? Not all can tell what time it is (12:56). Since this is the case, we have to ask whether the other parables represent positive or negative developments in the kingdom. It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Jesus and the Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven Remember, context is everything when studying the Bible. If we heard that, our heads would spin. The point is: you can predict a consequential future event based on antecedent signs. By extension, this interpretation could be developed to make the point that a similar thing can happen in church history. There certainly are options. Are you serious? It also appears in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas (verse 20). The lesson I’ve always drawn from this parable was that God can do great things even through small things. These short parables represent the fulfillment of Genesis 1:26—image (parable 1-2) and dominion (parable 3). See Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia, pp. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! The growth here is the negative development of Judaism. 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