Mustard Seed

Matthew 13:31-32
He [Jesus] presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in his field. Although it is the smallest of all seeds, when it is fully grown it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, and the birds in the sky come and nest in its branches.”
Mark 4:30-32
He was also saying, “How can we show what the kingdom of God is like, or what parable can we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. Although it is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, when it is planted it comes up and becomes larger than all the garden plants. It grows such large branches that the birds in the sky can nest in its shade.”
Luke 13:18-19
So Jesus went on to say, “What is the kingdom of God like? What can I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds in the sky nest in its branches.”
Possible Points of Jesus
  1. THE MUSTARD SEED
    1. THE PLANT ITSELF…
      1. The mustard plant is well known for its hot-flavored seeds
      2. Among seeds sown in a garden it was generally the smallest
      3. As a plant, it reaches ten, sometimes fifteen feet in height
      4. In the fall of the year, its branches have become rigid, and the plant often serves as a shelter for birds of many kinds (William Hendricksen, Commentary on Matthew)
    2. PROVERBIAL USES OF THE MUSTARD SEED…
      1. The mustard seed was used frequently to describe anything that is small in its beginning
      2. Jesus used it on another occasion to describe one’s faith – cf. Mt 17:20
      3. The Koran reads “Oh, my son, every matter, though it be of the weight of a grain of mustard seed…” (quoted by R. C. Trench)
  2. THE MEANING OF THE PARABLE
    1. THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN WOULD HAVE A SMALL BEGINNING…
      1. Old Testament prophecy foretold this:
        1. Concerning the Messiah – cf. Isa 11:1; 53:2-3
        2. Concerning the kingdom – cf. Dan 2:35b,44 (starting out as a stone, becoming a great mountain)
      2. Consider this description of the beginning…”The Son of Man grew up in a despised province; he did not appear in public until his thirtieth year; then taught for two or three years in neighboring villages, and occasionally at Jerusalem; made a few converts, chiefly among the poor and unlearned; and then falling into the hands of his enemies, died the shameful death of the cross; such, and so slight, was the commencement of the universal kingdom of God.” (R. C. Trench, Notes On The Parables Of Our Lord)
    2. BUT ITS TREMENDOUS GROWTH WOULD BELIE ITS HUMBLE BEGINNINGS…
      1. Just as the “small stone” of Dan 2:35 “became a great mountain and filled the whole earth”
      2. The growth of the church in the first century A.D. certainly confirmed the truth of Jesus’ parable
        1. The 120 disciples grew to over 3000 just in one day – Acts 2:41-42
        2. It was soon about 5000 – Ac 4:4
        3. The number of the disciples continued to “multiply”
          1. In Jerusalem – Ac 6:7
          2. Throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria – Ac 9:31
        4. Years later, there were “myriads” of believers just in Jerusalem alone – Ac 21:20
      3. Even today, we see the growth and influence of the kingdom of heaven in lives of believers around the world!
    3. IT’S GROWTH WOULD BE BENEFICIAL TO THE WORLD…
      1. In the parable, Jesus spoke of how “the birds of the air come and nest in its branches”
      2. What is meant by Jesus? He does not say, but the kingdom of God is certainly a blessing to all who take refuge in its “branches”
        1. E.g., “for the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” – Ro 14:17
        2. To those seeking rest for their weary souls, the King offers His tender invitation to come to Him and enter His kingdom of rest – cf. Mt 11:28-30
  3. THE GROWTH OF THE KINGDOM TODAY
    1. THERE IS THE “MATHEMATICAL POSSIBILITY”…
      1. Beginning with just twenty disciples, each converting just one person a year, and their converts doing the same…
      2. …the growth would be like a mustard seed!
        1. End of year 1 – 40
        2. End of year 5 – 640
        3. End of year 10 – 20,480
        4. End of year 15 – 655,360
        5. End of year 20 – 20,971,520
        6. End of year 25 – 1,342,177,280
    2. THERE IS CERTAINLY THE “SPIRITUAL POSSIBILITY”…
      1. We have the same “seed” of the kingdom, the Word of God!
        1. A “seed” which is incorruptible, that lives and abides forever – 1Pe 1:23-25
        2. A “seed” capable of producing what God intends – cf. Isa 55:10-11
      2. While the first two parables remind us that not all will accept the Word of God, this parable declares that the kingdom will grow!
    3. WHAT IS NEEDED IS PEOPLE…
      1. People with vision
        1. Who have the vision of Christ, as expressed in His parables
        2. Who look not at an apple and count the seeds, but looks at a seed and counts the apples (with their many seeds)!
        3. Who look at converting and developing disciples in the same way
      2. People willing to put the kingdom of God first in their lives
        1. The seed of the gospel will produce fruit, but only if it falls on good soil
        2. If we allow…
          1. The cares of this world
          2. The deceitfulness of riches
          3. The pleasures of life…to “choke” us, we cannot bear good fruit
        3. Therefore we need to put the kingdom of God first – Mt 6:33
      3. People willing to abide in Christ
        1. For apart from Christ they can do nothing – Jn 15:4-5
        2. For only they are able to bear “much fruit” – Jn 15:5
        3. And only they will be able to glorify God and be His true disciples – Jn 15:8
  4. CONCLUSION
    1. The potential for the kingdom’s amazing growth rests in the Person who reigns as its King…
      1. Those who will abide in Christ can be used by Him to produce the
        remarkable growth in the kingdom illustrated by this parable
      2. As Paul wrote to the Philippians: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” – Php 4:13
    2. Brethren, allow “The Parable Of The Mustard Seed” to serve as…
      1. An encouragement – The kingdom of heaven is destined for great things, though its beginning was small
      2. A reminder – That if we are going to be useful to the Master in this ever growing kingdom, we must “abide in Him” so we can “bear much fruit”

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