During his ministry, Jesus frequently challenged conventional wisdom, and He also encouraged His followers to radically demonstrate God’s love. He often did this through the use of parables. Jesus used these short stories to relay important instructions and lessons in ordinary language. There are more than 30 parables in the Bible, each with its own dynamic lesson.
Jesus mentions mustard seeds several times during his ministry here on earth. He teaches about it in parables as well as in an illustration about faith. The parable of the mustard seed is a powerful yet simple illustration that describes how we can use our faith to make a difference. It also gives us a perspective to approach the struggles and obstacles that we will encounter in throughout our lives.
Jesus taught this parable in Matthew 13:31-32: “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 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.”
In Palestine, large mustard bushes filled with flocks of birds were common sights. These large bushes were important because mustard seeds were cultivated for their oil during biblical times and were ground into powder for culinary as well as medicinal purposes.
The significant lesson that Jesus teaches about the mustard plant is that a huge, significant plant can come from a small, insignificant beginning like a tiny seed. He also draws this parallel about the Kingdom of God. There are a multitude of seemingly insignificant events in the Bible that hold such huge meanings, like the little town of Bethlehem, a wooden manger, an unknown carpenter and his young wife, everyday fishermen willing to follow Jesus, a few loaves and a couple of fish (that miraculously fed a large crowd) and a tree that would someday be a cross. The Bible is filled with little mustard seeds.
It may sometimes seem that the small part we play in this world is insignificant. Maybe we feel that our faith is small, and our Christian testimony doesn’t matter.
But, just like the mustard seed, our faith can grow to a large shrub and can spread very quickly. We can make a difference as our faith grows and develops. Just like in this simple parable, our mustard seed faith can continue to grow, spread and make a significant impact in someone’s life. Never underestimate the power of a tiny, little seed.