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The Parable of the Mustard Seed Explained

parable of the mustard seed

Recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the parable of the mustard seed is among the many powerful stories that Jesus told to teach His disciples about the kingdom of heaven.  

In the parable, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a tiny mustard seed that grows to become a big tree. He said:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32, NIV).

The moral lesson of the parable of the mustard seed

Even though it’s quite short, the parable of the mustard seed has lots of lessons that are relevant to the Christian faith even today. Let’s take a look at some of them.

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The nature of the kingdom of heaven

Parable of the mustard seed.

Jesus used the parable of the mustard seed to symbolize the kingdom of heaven and how it gradually grows from humble beginnings to cover the entire world. Much like how the mustard seed is tiny but grows to become a giant tree, the kingdom of God too grows gradually from small beginnings to all corners of the earth. It grows mysteriously and even though we might not notice it growing right away, the final result will surprise us.

Also, the parable teaches us about the inclusivity of God’s kingdom. In the same way that all types of birds find refuge in the branches of the mustard tree, the kingdom of heaven provides refuge to anyone who joins it regardless of their background.

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The power of faith

Besides symbolizing the kingdom of heaven, the mustard seeds in the parable can also be interpreted to symbolize faith. 

Parable of the mustard seed.

Just like the mustard seeds, faith needs to be planted and nurtured properly because when it gets proper care, even the smallest amount of faith can grow into something incredible.

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The power of God

The parable of the mustard seed also teaches us an important lesson about the incredible power that God has in our lives. If He can make a tiny seed to grow into such a big plant, imagine all the other great and incredible things He is capable of.

Besides that, it also teaches us that God works through small and ordinary things to get His will done and we only need to trust His process.

Great things can grow from humble beginnings

Finally, and most importantly, the parable of the mustard seed teaches us not to despise humble beginnings because they have the potential to develop into great things that are beyond our imagination.

Parable of the mustard seed.

Meaning of the mustard seed in the Bible

In the Bible, the mustard seed is regarded as one of the smallest seeds. Jesus used these seeds symbolically a couple of times to pass messages about God, faith, and the kingdom of heaven.

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Besides the parable of the mustard seed, Jesus also used the mustard seed in Matthew 17:20, to represent faith. He said to His disciples: 

Parable of the mustard seed.

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20 NIV).

Here, Jesus emphasized that we can achieve great things when we have even the smallest amount of faith.

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