Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Mustard Seed: Kingdom of God and Word of God

30 ¶And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?
 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:
 32 But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it. (Mark 4:30-32)

This parable comes in the same chapter as the parable of the sower (seed in 4 different kinds of ground) and the parable of the seed growing secretly.  Previous to this I’ve only looked at this parable by taking it at face value—the kingdom of God = a grain of mustard seed.  But recently, I looked at it in context with the other parables around it which also involved planting seeds, and I thought, “What if in this parable the mustard seed = the word?”  (I'm not suggesting that this is the real interpretation; rather, I thought it might be interesting to see what else I might learn if I started from this assumption rather than the assumption that the seed = kingdom of God.)

If we assume seed means the word of God, we can see why a mustard seed would be used.  Mustard seed is so small.  You’d think the plant that would grow from it would be small too.  In the same way, the word of God, when heard with the carnal ears, seems unbelievable and easily dismissable.  It seems like it would never have any real effect on someone, or carry the least weight of all the things you could say.  But when the word of God is heard with the spiritual ears and nurtured, it grows into action and it becomes the thing that has the greatest effect in a person’s life.  It is productive of all sorts of good works to an extent that aren’t possible otherwise.


Rozy Lass said...

I believe you're right about the seed being the word of God; Alma compares the word to a seed in chapter 32 when teaching the outcasts among the Zoramites. Makes sense.

Michaela Stephens said...

At any rate, it helps in understanding the other parables in the chapter..