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Jesus and tiny seeds. Matthew 13.31-32

Jesus was all about the Seeds in Matthew 13 – have you noticed as you have read through the chapter? The Parable of the Sower, the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, and now the Parable of the Mustard Seed. Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”1

The mustard plant in Palestine is a different kind of plant than what we visualize growing wild and blowing in the wind here in California, or on western mountain scapes. In Palestine this little grain of mustard grew into something very like a tree.2 Thomson in The Land and the Book writes: "I have seen this plant on the rich plain of Akkar as tall as the horse and his rider." Therefore, there is no exaggeration at all in this parable. Jesus said that his Kingdom was like the mustard seed and its growth into a tree. Hmmm . . . the Kingdom of Heaven compared to a mustard seed? Seems like it should be compared to a grand and glorious palace, not a tiny seed, eh?

Jesus is talking about the exponential growth of the Kingdom just from a single seed. Could it be that Jesus was talking about himself? I believe so. A reformation oft begins with one person, and no one could deny that Jesus’ life and ministry not only launched a reformation, but truly a revolution. H.G. Wells said of Jesus, "His is easily the dominant figure in history.... A historian without any theological bias whatever should find that he simply cannot portray the progress of humanity honestly without giving a foremost place to a penniless teacher from Nazareth."3

Which brought to mind the most beautiful simple writing about Jesus that I know:

One Solitary Life
He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty when public opinion turned against him
He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself

He was only thirty three

His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth

When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend

Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind's progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life.4

Jesus – a mustard seed? No doubt.

Christine Todd DiGiacomo

1 – Matthew 13.31-32
2 – William Barclay
3 – H.G. Wells, The American Magazine, July, 1922
4 - Dr James Allan Francis © 1926.

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