In the fertile region surrounding the Sea of Galilee, the mustard plant was a familiar form of vegetation. Properly nourished, its seeds, which were widely used for seasoning and medicinal purposes, would commonly grow into a sturdy tree that normally measured about fifteen feet in height.
The imagery of great abundance rising from humble beginnings was not lost on our Lord, as evidenced by His famous Parable of the Mustard Seed. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like 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 becomes a tree.” (Matt 13:31-32)
This parable is not meant to provide us with a glimpse of heaven, but rather its purpose to explain the process of growth involved with spreading the word of God so that we may, one day, be part of God’s heavenly kingdom. Christ’s ministry began in a small way, with poor, uneducated fishermen serving as His messengers. In no time at all, they spread the Christian faith throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. The work of the Lord often involves seemingly insignificant people and circumstances, but the possibilities for growth are endless because of God’s power. Many in Christ’s time fully expected God’s kingdom to be revealed immediately. Church Fathers remind us, however, that all the glory that awaits us will take time to grow and mature through adversity. Still, when the kingdom of Heaven is fully formed, it will be more wonderful and bountiful than we can imagine!
The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ