Sunday’s Gospel lesson reflects in part on the mustard seed and a Jesus says, “if you had faith the size a mustard seed that someone took and spread in his field” great things could be achieved.
In Matthew, Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, “which someone took and planted in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
In Mark He says; 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 seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.
In Luke, Jesus asks, what is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to?
It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.
Note that in these three gospels Jesus uses the tiny mustard seed to describe how the kingdom of God will grow. He said it will start from a small seed but will grow very large.
What is unusual about a mustard seed? Well it was the smallest seed known at that time. We know from Jesus own words that a tiny mustard seed produces tremendous growth and finally produces a tree sized plant that can reach a height of 12 feet or more and provides shade and a place that birds can perch upon.
Could it be that Jesus is saying that if you have a faith in Him, that like a mustard seed, it starts small but continues to develop until it is a large tree like plant, that you will be able to say to a tree be removed from the ground and be planted in the sea? Saying perhaps that if your faith in Him begins small but continues to grow as you learn more about Him your faith in Him will become strong enough so that you will be able to do unexpected things.
This I have witnessed in particular with one of our Soup Kitchen guests, whom I met here some six years ago. We had many conversations and he began coming to Bible Study on Wednesday Mornings. Comparing the way he was then as to the way he is now, he has turned himself around and continues to grow in faith. He is still being inquisitive but his faith continues to grow in Christ.
Why else would Jesus choose a mustard seed for comparison? He could have used any other seed but chose to use a seed which produces extreme growth instead. So what do we do to increase our faith in Him? We do all we can to learn all we can about Him. We go to the Gospels and we read all about Him and what He teaches. Then we determine within ourselves that we are going to do our very best to live the commands and examples He has set before us.
It seems that Jesus worked hard at developing His parables, His stories, His illustrations, so that His hearers had something worthwhile and deeply important to think about. He spoke provocatively, intentionally, and in many ways, spoke simply; and yet his parables need to be thought through. His parables were sometimes like puzzles to be unlocked.
If we follow Him through the Gospels and determine to be as much like Him as possible we will see that mustard seed sized faith, we began with, become plant sized and eventually tree sized faith; a faith that weathers storms because we are planted firmly in Him. The mustard seed then is an example of the kind of growth our faith can have if we study and apply the words of Christ.
This may be a little different but we can increase our faith in Christ by reading the four gospels and taking in all that He said and did. As we grow we apply that faith and that faith will continue to grow as long as we are in the word. Faith that begins at the size of a mustard seed has the potential to grow to a huge and deep faith which can indeed achieve great things for the kingdom of God.
The work of the kingdom is about patience. It is about having a purpose, and it is about a process. So, we shouldn’t be surprised that the work of this church is about the long term and not about clicking our fingers and expecting immediate results.
Water your mustard seed and become an established tree in the fields of the Lord.