“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: 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” (vv. 31, 32). It should be evident to all, that our understanding of this parable hinges upon a correct interpretation of its three central figures: the mustard-seed, the great tree which sprang from it, and the “birds of the air” which came and lodged in its branches.
Whatdoes each represent ? Now there are few passages of Scripture which have suffered more at the hands of commentators than the third and fourth parables of Matthew 13. They have been turned completely upside down; that is to say, they have been made to mean the very opposite of what the Lord Jesus taught. The main cause of this erroneous interpretation may be traced back to a wrong understanding of the expression “kingdom of heaven. ” Those who have failed in their definition of this term are, necessarily, all at sea, when they come to the details of these parables.
The popular and current explanation of these parables is that they were meant to announce the glorious success of the Gospel. Thus, that of the mustard-seed is regarded as portraying the rapid extension of Christianity and the expansion of the Church of Christ. Beginning insignificantly and obscurely, its proportions have increased immensely, until ultimately it shall cover the earth. Let us first show how untenable and impossible this interpretation is: First, it must be steadily borne in mind that these seven parables form part of one connected and complete discourse whose teaching must necessarily be consistent and harmonious throughout.
Therefore, it is obvious that this third one cannot conflict with the teaching of the first two. In the first parable, instead of drawing a picture of a field in which the good Seed took root and flourished in every part of it, our Lord pointed out that most of its soil was unfavorable, and that only a fractional proportion bore an increase. Moreover, instead of promising that the good-ground section of the field would yield greater and greater returns, He announced that there would be a decreasing harvest—”some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. ’ In the second parable, our Lord revealed the field as over-sown with “tares,” and declared that these should continue until the harvest-time, which He defined as “the end of the age. ” This fixes beyond all doubt the evil consequences of the Enemy’s work, and positively forbids the expectation of a world won to Christ during this present dispensation, Christ plainly warned us that the evil effects of the Devil’s labors at the beginning of the age would never be repaired. The crop as a whole is spoiled! Thus this third parable cannot teach that the failure of things in the hands of men will be removed and reversed.
Second, the figure here selected by Christ should at once expose the fallacy of the popular interpretation. Surely our Lord would never have taken a mustard-seed. which afterwards became a “tree,” ever rooting itself deeper and deeper in the earth, to portray that people whose calling, hope, citizenship, and destiny is heavenly. Again and again He affirmed that His people were “not of the world. ” Again, a great tree with its towering branches speaks of prominence and loftiness, but lowliness and suffering, not prominence and exaltation, are the present portion of the New Testament saints.
The more any church of Christ climbs the ladder of worldly fame the more it sinks spiritually. That which is represented by this “tree” is not a people who are “strangers and pilgrims” down here, but a system whose roots lie deeply in the earth and which aims at greatness and expansion in the world. Third, that which Christ here describes is a monstrosity. We are aware that this is denied by some, but our Lord’s own words are final. He tells us that when this mustard-seed is grown it is the “greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree” (v. 2). “Herbs” are an entirely different specie from trees. That which distinguished them is that their stems never develop woody tissue, but live only long enough for the development of flowers and seeds. But this “herb” became a “tree;” that is to say, it developed into something entirely foreign to its very nature and constitution. How strange that sober men should have deemed this unnatural growth, this abnormal production, a fitting symbol of the saints of God in their corporate form!
Some tell us that the soil of Palestine is a most congenial one for the growth of mustard, and that it is quite common for it to develop into goodly-sized shrubs. But cannot the very ones who advance this as an objection to the pre-millennial interpretation of this parable see that it forms an argument against what they contend for? Clearly the “field,” all through Matthew 13, is the world. Is, then, “the world” afavorable place for the growth of that kingdom which Christ solemnly and expressly said was “not of this world” (John 18:36)?
Is this world, where the flesh and the Devil unite in opposing all that concerns Christ and His interests, a congenial soil for Christianity? Either the world must cease to be what it is—”the enemy of God”—or the Seed must change its character, before the one will be favorable to the other. And this is just what our parable does teach: the “herb” becomes a “tree. ” Fourth, the “birds” lodging in the branches of this tree makes altogether against the current interpretation. If Scripture be compared with Scripture it will be found that these “birds” symbolize Satan and his agents.
Let not the reader be turned aside by the fact that the “dove,” and in some passages the “eagle,” represents that which is good. That which we must now attempt to define is the actual word “birds,” or better, “fowls”—as the Greek word is rendered in verse 4. In Genesis 15:11 we are told that the “fowls came down upon the carcasses” (the bodies of the sacrifices) and that “Abram drove them away. ” Here, beyond doubt, they prefigure the efforts of Satan to render null and void the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus; but this, the Father (foreshadowed in Abraham) has prevented.
Mark 4:26-27 And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. If you ask God how this happen, how that happen, and how to do this or that, God might actually answer you, but usually the ultimate solution is “just be”. The words of God change what you are. The Bible is not written to give us a list of How-to, but to give us life. How often do you see the Bible give you a list of how-to and formulas? You can find them in a cook book, but probably not the Bible.
How does it related to the Parable Of The Mustard Seed? The key is hidden in the seed. You might never understand the hows, but if you plant the seeds, and wait patiently, they will give you a harvest. The seeds will change you from within, and release the power of God in everything God called you to do. Problems solved. No need for the hows anymore. You don’t need to worry about the hows anymore. They are irrelevant. You have everything you need already. The Bible says God has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) What is life? Productivity certainly is. Joy, eace, health, and success are also important parts of life. Life isn’t just merely surviving and putting up with sins, defeats, and pains. And there is godliness. Godliness is perfection and holiness. It’s living above sins! Life and godliness are the solutions to items 1 to 12!!
Before I go on about actually planting the seeds and getting a good harvest of life and godliness, let me develop my case a little bit better. How come some Christians are more Christian than the others? This is the question I had for years. I often heard that some spiritual giants had a major revelation and suddenly they no longer sin. such as Watchman Nee, Hudson Taylor) I had been seeking this elusive, mysterious revelation for years, but I didn’t really understand. I read their testimonies but I didn’t see through the surface. I heard but I didn’t understand. (Luke 8:10) If you have the same experience, welcome to the club! Congratulation because my years of struggles may serve you well! I often asked Christians whom I admired questions such as “How do you keep yourself from sinning? ”, “How come you are so self-disciplined? ” “How do you manage to achieve so much within so short a time? ” I’d even asked pastors about this, but they didn’t really answer my questions.
For the victorious Christians, often time they really don’t know how they came to be victorious. They simply are what they are. I know it’s not about self. It’s about relying on God. I rely on God, too! But how come I fall short while some people always do better than me? And they don’t even know how it happened! Look into the seeds!!! The mustard seed has faith, power, and transformational properties within it Just scatter the seeds (The word of God) on the ground (Your soul: your heart and mind), preserve them with a good heart, and you will reap a harvest. (Luke 8:15) The mustard seeds are the word of God.
Your faith will increase simply by listening to the word. (Romans 10:17) Every word of God contains power. (Hebrews 4:12) The word of God can be implanted into your soul, and save your soul through its living, growing, and transforming power. (James 1:21) The word of God will accomplish everything it says it will accomplish. (Isaiah 5:11) How come I don’t experience the word of God that way? If God’s word has the aforementioned properties, then why do I go to the church so often, read the Bible a lot, and hear the sermons so many times, but still get stuck with certain struggles in my life?
The main reasons can be found in the parable of the sower (Mark 4:1-20, Matthew 13:1-23, and Luke 8:1-15) You and I know that only good seed (not to be confused with the mustard seeds) who persevere, who refuse distractions, who suffer persecutions, and who listen to word of God with a “good heart” will produce a great harvest in the end. What else? The rest of this post will focus exactly on that. For the sincere Christians who seem to belong to the category of good seeds : they go to the church, they study the Bible, and they do this, this and that, but they still had problems with lust, depression, laziness, sickness, fears, and etc.
What’s wrong? You have to unlock the powers within the mustard seeds!!! God has done His parts, and the only part left is ours. The Bible says, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3) God has already given us everything, absolutely everything that pertain to life and godliness. He doesn’t need to give us more. We have enough. We should. So how do you unlock the power of God’s word? How do you get the seeds working?
Simple. So simple that it’s almost hard to understand. #1, speak the word of God in faith and speak it often. (Joshua 1:8) I don’t mean intellectual conversation or discussion. We can study God’s word intellectually, but that’s another subject. Here I want to let you know that even simple, verbal declaration of God’s word can trigger the power of God. God said, “Let there be light! ” and there was light. The physical world didn’t ask “how? ”. It simply obeyed. There was nothing too intellectual or too complicated about it.
Jesus rebuked the sea and the wind, and they listened to him. (Matt 8:26) The principle of faith is that if you confess with your mouth and agree in your heart the things you want, they shall be given you. (Romans 10:10; Mark 11:22-24) Jesus taught us this, Mark 11:22-24 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever SAYS to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he SAYS.
Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receivethem, and you will have them. Matthew 17:20-21 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will sayto this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. You can speak God’s word. You can pray God’s word. One thing is necessary here, faith. If you say it and believe it in your heart, God’s word will manifest.
Don’t pray in a way as if God’s promise isn’t there. For example, don’t pray for victory over sin, or strength over sin, because the Bible say that you and I already connected with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, and therefore we also shared His victory over sins. (Romans 6; Galatians 5:24) Miraculously, whenever I speak Christ’s victory with all my heart, temptations and the power of sins would collapse and victory would manifest. It isn’t about my willpower. The victory has already been won so don’t attempt to win it again.