February 24 – Parables – Mustard Seed

Read Matthew 13:31-32

As a gardener, the miracle of seeing the first seedlings sprout never ceases to amaze me. In the spring as I plant my garden and carefully cover the seeds with the rich soil, I have to trust that they will grow into plants to harvest in late summer.

In Matthew 13: 31-32 Jesus said just a few sentences comparing the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed. Although many who listened to His teaching would have understood the agricultural lesson, few understood the hidden spiritual message. The mustard seed was the smallest seed cultivated in Israel, yet could grow up to ten feet tall in one growing season. It’s leaves could be used in salads, it produced seeds which contained vegetable oil and it’s branches provided shade as well as protection and a home for birds. Jesus used this parable to show how the seed of the gospel, hidden in man’s heart would grow and His kingdom would spread rapidly. As believers, we are part of this exciting growth. It’s a glorious mystery we get to share. We can compare some of the purposes of the mustard tree to God’s provisions as part of His kingdom.

  • Sustenance–  Jesus is the Bread of Life and the Living Water. Jesus said man cannot live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4
  • Protection–  David wrote in Psalm 23, “You anoint my head with oil.” As a shepherd, David understood the need to anoint his sheep’s head with oil to protect them from parasites. Oil acted like a bug repellent. It’s a beautiful picture of God’s protection and care for His children.
  • Rest– Trees provide shade from the heat of the day, a place to rest and refresh. Psalm 91 says that we abide in his shadow. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
  • Home– In one of Jesus’ shortest parables, He emphasized His care for His creation. Trees provide a place for birds to make their nests, a home and place of security.  As part of His kingdom, Jesus promises us an eternal home with Him. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places…I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2

As a gardener, awaiting my seeds to grow, I’m reminded of my work in God’s kingdom. The prayer of my heart echoes Jeremiah’s words: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8,9

Questions to consider:

  • Are my roots reaching for the Living Water?
  • Am I spreading the seed of the gospel to grow the kingdom of heaven?
  • Am I living in God’s sustenance, protection, rest and security?

Charline Engle

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