The Faith of a Mustard Seed
Jesus uses the object “mustard seed” five different times in three of the four Gospels:
Matthew 13:31: He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
Matthew 17:20: He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Mark 4:31: “It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plant and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
Luke 13:19: “It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” (Speaking, again, of the Kingdom of Heaven)
Luke 17:5-6: “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
We can assume, then, that this is a pretty important concept for us to grasp, especially as leaders in a Christian fellowship. There are essentially two particular items the Bible compares a mustard seed to. The first is the Kingdom of Heaven and the second is our faith in the Lord.
Why A Mustard Seed?
The Biological Side of Things: “Mustards are several plant species in the genera Brassica and Sinapis whose small mustard seeds are used as a spice and, by grinding and mixing them with water, vinegar or other liquids, are turned into the condiment known as mustard or prepared mustard. The seeds are also pressed to make mustard oil, and the edible leaves can be eaten as mustard greens…. There has been recent research into varieties of mustards that have a high oil content for use in the production of biodiesel, a renewable liquid fuel similar to diesel fuel. The biodiesel made from mustard oil has good cold flow properties and cetane ratings. The leftover meal after pressing out the oil has also been found to be an effective pesticide.” (Thanks, Wikipedia.)
The Upshot? This tiny seed is made, manipulated and altered to serve a/several purpose(s). Alternatively, when combined with other mustard seeds, where much is give much is reaped. (You know? “By our powers combined” and all that jazz). Additionally, the mustard seed comes from a much larger, beautiful plant that looks something like this….
The Surface Level Significance of These Five Pieces of Scripture?
The Universal Truths of our Purpose for God’s Glory as interpreted from this single (scientific/unreligious) definition:
§ God can make much from little.
Isaiah 43: 1, 16-21: “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.”
§ We are Created for His purpose:
Psalm 57:2, “I cry out to my God most high, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.”
2 Timothy 1:8-10, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”
§ Even though we might Commonly be known for one purpose, there are other/alternative purposes for us as well!
2 Corinthians 2:14 “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.”
Jeremiah 29:13 “When you seek me, you will find me when you seek me with all of your heart.”
The Meaning in Context:
Mustard Seed compared to the Kingdom of Heaven/God:
Matthew 13:31, Mark 4:31, Luke 13:19
The mustard seed is compared to the Kingdom of Heaven/God for two (or more?) potential reasons:
1. The Kingdom of God flourishes when we, the farmers, take the time and energy to care for and cultivate this Kingdom, this seed.
2. Once developed, it provides a place for rest (Matt and Luke), and protection (Mark). Therefore, it is our obligation as Christians to cultivate the Kingdom of Heaven, through our actions for God’s purpose, so that others might find peace, rest and protection at the steps of the Kingdom.
Mustard Seed compared to our faith as believers:
Matthew 17:20, Luke 17:6
The mustard seed is compared to our faith because:
1. We grow anxious in the midst of a tremendous task.
2. We feel inadequate.
3. We face adversity.
4. We are one person in the long timeline of humanity, what can we do?
The faith equivalent to a single grain of mustard seed can move mountains across the ground, it can take mulberry trees out of the ground and replant them elsewhere. Therefore, “when God is for us, who can stand against us?” (Romans 8:31)
God is certainly for us. However, the enemy is also completely against us and is seeking to attack us through all avenues possible. Be a warrior for Christ, armor yourself against the enemy and use our faith to expand his kingdom. (Ephesians 6: 10-18)