Our English word “parable” is a transliteration of the Greek parabole (pronounced para-bow-LAY) which simply means “to place beside, to cast alongside.” A parable, then, is a story that places one thing beside another for the purpose of teaching. It puts the known next to the unknown so that we may learn. When Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like . . . ,” He was using comparison or contrast to teach a spiritual lesson.
THE PARABLE OF THE MUSTARD SEED
Matthew 13:31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32. Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
From the first two parables that Jesus taught and then explained, it is easy to surmise that the disciples may have been discouraged by what they heard…
- In “The Parable Of The Sower”, only one soil of four would be truly receptive to the Word sown
- In “The Parable Of The Wheat And Tares”, they learned that Satan would be doing his best to undermine the efforts of the Sower
Commentators have suggested that the parable of“The Mustard Seed” was told by Jesus to encourage His disciples in reference to the kingdom. It describes the kingdom as destined for remarkable growth.
1) THE MEANING OF THE MUSTARD SEED
- The mustard plant is well known for its hot-flavored seeds – Faith is explosive & exciting
- Among seeds sown in a garden it was generally the smallest – Our Faith starts small
- As a plant, it reaches ten to fifteen feet in height – Our Faith can grow exponentially
- In the fall of the year, its branches have become rigid, and the plant often serves as a shelter for birds of many kinds – Our Faith can serve as a sanctuary for others
2) THE MEANING OF THE PARABLE
- THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN WOULD HAVE A SMALL BEGINNING…
OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECY CONCERNING THE MESSIAH – Isaiah 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
- . . . BUT WOULD EXPERIENCE TREMENDOUS GROWTH
- The growth of the church in the first century confirmed the truth of Jesus’ parable
- The 120 disciples grew to over 3000 just in one day – Acts 2:41-42
- The church was soon about 5000 – Acts 4:4
- The number of the disciples continued to “multiply” In Jerusalem – Acts 6:7
- The church grew throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria – Acts 9:31
3) THE GROWTH OF THE KINGDOM TODAY
- We have the same “seed” of the kingdom, the Word of God!
- A “seed” which is incorruptible, that lives and abides forever –
1 Peter 1:23-25 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25. But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
- A “seed” capable of producing what God intends
Isaiah 55:10-11 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11. So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
- While the first two parables remind us that not all will accept the Word of God, this parable declares that the kingdom will grow!
4) WHAT THE PARABLE MEANS TO US TODAY
Matthew 17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
For us to see tremendous growth in our world it must first begin in our own faith. In the above passage, Jesus gives us to keys to unlocking this type of spiritual growth through our faith:
- 1) PRAYER
- 2) FASTING