September 2019 - The Pastor’s Creel
Prior to accepting my call to ministry, I was a landscape architect with a personal interest in edible and medicinal wild plants. After accepting my call to ministry, I naturally found myself drawn to the flora and fauna found in the pages of scripture. On one occasion, in Matthew 13:31-32, Jesus told a parable about a mustard seed saying, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of your seeds, yet when it’s grown, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”
The plant in question is considered by most biblical scholars to be brassica nigra, also known as common black mustard. In Jesus’ day, this annual herb grew wild in the fields. It can grow to heights of six to eight feet tall, with a base stem as thick as three to four inches. In the fall, the stems become rigid. Thus, more than sturdy enough for birds to nest in.
The explanation is that although the mustard seed is one of the smallest of seeds, it produces a much larger plant. Likewise, Jesus had just ushered in the Kingdom of God and, although it too had humble beginnings, it would grow to impressive proportions.
But let me take this a bit further. Jewish people were particular about their gardens and took great pains to keep out unwanted weeds, especially mustard, which spread like crown vetch and often quickly invaded and took over, leaving only mustard. As a matter of fact, Jewish law forbid the planting of mustard in gardens. So, not only did mustard grow to impressive heights, it also spread rapidly.
Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed.” For three years He spread the seeds of the Gospel, and after the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost, those seeds germinated within the first Christians, who were seen as an offshoot of Judaism, or weeds, producing seeds that quickly spread into all gardens of faith. Today the roots of Christianity continue to spread all over the world, increasing the Lord’s Kingdom, all having their beginning from a tiny seed born in Bethlehem.
In the beginning, God told humankind to “Be fruitful and increase in number.” And Jesus calls us to do the same in making disciples. As people of faith, we are part of the spiritual mustard family. Therefore, let us produce and spread the seeds of Good News and Love to all we come in contact with.