Verse of the Day Devotion Matthew 13:31
“He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field”. – Matthew 13:31
The parable we will look at today is the Mustard Seed. Here is this parable as told in Matthew’s gospel.
“He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds; but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants, and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES.” Matthew 13:31-32.
Jesus continues his parables with one that brings out the thought of growth. This parable is important because over against the mighty numbers of the worshipers of heathen gods, along with the Jews who acknowledged the true God but not the Christ, those who proclaimed the kingdom Jesus spoke of were a small minority. He teaches them not to be convinced by size or numbers. These tiny beginnings would grow into something greater by far than any of the religions found in the disciples’ contemporary world.
The formula Jesus uses is one contrasting the smallness of the seed with the greatness of the plant. He begins this parable by saying “The Kingdom of Heaven”. This refers to the kingdom in which He, Jesus, is the King. He predicts the amazing growth of this kingdom of heaven. The mustard seed is quite small, the plant that comes from it is quite large, up to ten feet in height, and Jesus uses this is a picture of kingdom growth.
The point of this Parable is that something big and blessed, the kingdom of God, had humble beginnings. Many were thinking, how significant could the short ministry of Christ be? He had but a handful of followers, He was seen as a man of no rank and without means, and He lived in what everyone considered a backwater region of the world. The life and death of Christ did not catch the world’s attention any more than a mustard seed would lying on the ground by the road. But God had an amazing plan. What seemed inconsequential at first grew into a movement of worldwide influence that no one could stop. Gamaliel, speaking to the Council in Jerusalem said, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody; and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. And he was slain; and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away some people after him, he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. And so, in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action should be of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.” Acts 35-39.
And the kingdom is prophesied in the same way in Ezekiel. “Thus says the Lord GOD, “I shall also take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and set it out; I shall pluck from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I shall plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the high mountain of Israel, I shall plant it, that it may bring forth boughs and bear fruit, and become a stately cedar. And birds of every kind will nest under it; they will nest in the shade of its branches. And all the trees of the field will know that I am the LORD; I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will perform it.” Ezekiel 17:22-24.
The influence of the kingdom of God would be such that everyone associated with it would find a benefit, pictured as the birds perched on the branches of the mature mustard plant. And in comparing the picture in Matthew with the prophesy in Ezekiel, we see that even large mustard bushes pale in comparison with the lofty cedars ; still Jesus may be employing deliberate irony. What may not look like much to the world will in fact fulfill all God’s promises.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.