In Mark 4:26-34, Jesus said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
When we hear of the mustard seed, we often hear it in the context of faith: “If you have as little faith as this mustard seed, you can tell this mountain to move and it will move.” But here, Jesus compares the seed to the Kingdom of God. Notice: “The smallest of all the seeds of the earth.”
Now, I don’t know how well you know seeds, but the mustard seed isn’t really the smallest of all the seeds on earth…I’ve actually seen smaller, so I’ve often wondered about this. But then, you have to understand what Jesus was actually talking about, so let’s look at the many “seeds” in the world:
- Word of God
- World’s definition of success
- World’s culture
- Ways to deal with vengeance or justice
- Hatred (seed of Satan)
- Views about God
- Happiness as the most important goal (do whatever makes you happy)
- Possibility of unity among the world’s religions (Tower of Babel)
- Sex outside of marriage as being not only, OK but the norm
- Justifying sin
- No hell, everybody goes to Heaven
Of all these, and more seeds, the Word of God is the “smallest seed”, meaning, the least popular, the least favorite, and the least accepted. Yet, if you plant it into you, it becomes the biggest among all the rest, because the biggest is the most fulfilling, most practical, most rewarding, only True one, and the only one that leads to Life. All the others lead to sinfulness, which leads to emptiness and death. But the smallest of all these, and only this one seed, gives life.
- Compare the World’s definition of success with Joshua’s definition (Joshua 1:7-8)
- What are some other seeds you can think of that are planted among the world and that compete with God’s Word?
- Compare these seeds of the Earth with the Seed(s) of God. How do they compare, or how are they different? Why do you suppose God’s ways are so unpopular or non-preferred (the smallest)?