Thoughts for the Week

Most of us are familiar with the parable of the mustard seed in Luke 13:18-19.

However, very few could recall the miracle that occurred just before the parable and the significance it holds.

It was the miracle when Jesus healed the crippled woman on the Sabbath (13:10-17). The text indicates that she had been bent over and hobbling for eighteen years (v.11). In society’s eyes, she had very little value and was most likely overlooked.

However, Jesus called her up front in the synagogue and healed her instantly and she began giving praises to God (v.13).

When Jesus transitions to his parable of the mustard seed, this miracle must have fresh in everyone’s mind. He compares the Kingdom of Heaven as being like a mustard seed which grows into large tree.

Since most people today don’t have their own herb gardens, the dramatic comparison Jesus was making is not obvious. At a quick glance, it seems that Jesus is only saying that the Kingdom of Heaven can sometimes start out small, and then become something powerful just like the mustard tree.

But mustard seeds don’t grow into trees. The type of plant Jesus was talking about was most likely the White Mustard or Sinapis alba which grows in the Middle East. Like in the picture above, they only grow into shrubs or bushes at the most.

A modern-day version for Northern Americans would be to say that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a Queen Ann’s lace seed, which was planted and grew into a large tree.

The miraculous part of the parable is not that a small thing became big. It is that a small thing became impossible.

Just like the crippled woman who had been healed. She had been insignificant in the society’s eyes. But Jesus healed her, and she praised God because of this impossible miracle.

Copyright 2015 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

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