Time to put your glasses on and look at the tiniest seed in the world in The Parable of the Mustard Seed in Mark 4:30-34.
To what can we compare the kingdom of God? You mean besides the previously mentioned things to which the kingdom of God was compared? It is like a mustard seed!
The image of the mustard seed above can be compared to the mustard plant below.
Whether it’s a bush or a tree is beside the point of the parable, however, as what is important is that the smallest of things can, through no power of humanity (as discussed in the previous parable) grow into great things.
This is the kingdom of God. It is interesting to note that the kingdom was the planter in the previous parable, where now it is the seed. It seems as though the analogies can shift depending on the point that Jesus is trying to make. Makes sense. So, what have we learned so far?
Some people will be open to accepting Jesus’ teachings and some people won’t. Once you tell people the message, there is little you can do to foster it within them. You can help guide them, but their acceptance and nurturing of the message is up to them. And now, the kingdom which results from the acceptance of that message may start out small, with one man, but will grow to become an unruly mess in the garden of God. (See above photo).
I have to say, I think we’ve definitely succeeded in becoming an unruly mess! While there are parallels one can discuss about the nature of mustard plants, i.e. their difficulty, their behaviour. I think the mustard plant was chosen for its size relative to its seed and nothing more. The picture below is also a mustard plant, although of a more tree-like variety.
Jesus is giving his followers hope. He’s letting them know that even though there are only a few true followers now, things will get better. This is the second time that a story suggests that Jesus could see into the future. However, like any other human, perhaps he was projecting his own hopes.
This is the last of the list of parables for Mark. Sadly, he only chooses to explain to us the first, despite acknowledging that Jesus told the disciples the meanings to them all. Interestingly enough, Jesus said that he spoke in parables so that only those with an ear to hear would understand, but seems to have made an exception for his disciples. Were they particularly dense and unable to understand then? It seems a double standard to require the general population to puzzle it out along while explaining it to your close friends. Perhaps there was a different reason to be cryptic then? Perhaps the disciples would then go out and tell the public the meanings?
All questions worth pondering but with no forthcoming answers! Perhaps we will get more information as we continue?
Grace and Peace to you all.