The parable of the mustard seed (Mt 13:31-13:32)

“Jesus presented them

Another parable.

‘The kingdom of heaven is

Like a mustard seed.

Someone took it.

He sowed in his field.

It is the smallest of all seeds.

But when it has grown,

It is the greatest of shrubs.

It becomes a tree,

So that the birds of the air

Come.

They make nests

In its branches.’”

 

Ἄλλην παραβολὴν παρέθηκεν αὐτοῖς λέγων Ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν κόκκῳ σινάπεως, ὃν λαβὼν ἄνθρωπος ἔσπειρεν ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ αὐτοῦ·

ὃ μικρότερον μέν ἐστιν πάντων τῶν σπερμάτων, ὅταν δὲ αὐξηθῇ, μεῖζον τῶν λαχάνων ἐστὶν καὶ γίνεται δένδρον, ὥστε ἐλθεῖν τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ κατασκηνοῖν ἐν τοῖς κλάδοις αὐτοῦ.

 

This parable of the mustard seed can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 4:30-32, and Luke, chapter 13:18-19.  The mustard seed was the symbol of small things.  However, it could grow to become a tree or shrub where birds could nest.  There is no explanation of this parable except the clear indication that the kingdom of heaven may start out small but would grow to hold many people.  Jesus, via Matthew, explicitly presented them with another short parable (Ἄλλην παραβολὴν παρέθηκεν αὐτοῖς λέγων).  He said that the kingdom of heaven was like a mustard seed (Ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν κόκκῳ σινάπεως).  A man planted this seed in his field (ὃν λαβὼν ἄνθρωπος ἔσπειρεν ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ αὐτοῦ).  When planted, it is the smallest of all seeds (ὃ μικρότερον μέν ἐστιν πάντων τῶν σπερμάτων).  But when it has grown, it is the greatest of garden plants or shrubs (ὅταν δὲ αὐξηθῇ, μεῖζον τῶν λαχάνων).   It then becomes a tree (καὶ γίνεται δένδρον).  Thus, the birds of the air could come and perch or build nests in its branches (ὥστε ἐλθεῖν τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ κατασκηνοῖν ἐν τοῖς κλάδοις αὐτοῦ).  What starts out small can become quite large.

Advertisements

The wood of the vine (Ezek 15:1-15:3)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

How does the wood

Of the vine

Surpass

All other wood?

Is the vine branch

Among the trees

Of the forest?

Is the wood

Taken from it

To make anything?

Does one take a peg

From it

To hang

Any object?’”

The word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man, about an allegory or parable of the wood of the vine. Yahweh wanted to know how the wood of the vine surpassed all other kinds of wood. These vines were not grown in the forest like the other trees, but they were usually cultivated. What could you do with the wood from the vine? There were many uses, but apparently one of the most important uses was to make pegs to hang things on.

The prosperous wicked people (Jer 12:1-12:3)

“Yahweh!

You will be in the right

When I complain to you.

But let me plead my case

Before you?

Why does the way of the guilty prosper?

Why do all who are treacherous thrive?

You plant them.

They take root.

They grow.

They bring forth fruit.

You are near in their mouths.

Yet you are far from their hearts.

Yahweh!

You know me!

You see me!

You test me!

My heart is with you.

Pull them out

Like sheep for the slaughter!

Set them apart

For the day of slaughter.”

Jeremiah wanted to know why the wicked ones prospered. Much like Job, and the sapiential literature, this was the question of why do bad or evil people succeed? Jeremiah pleaded his case before Yahweh. Yahweh was the one who planted them and gave them roots. Thus they have grown and born fruit. They say the right things, but their hearts are not in it. Jeremiah complained that Yahweh knew what kind of person he was, since Yahweh knew, saw, and tested him. His heart was with Yahweh. Now he wanted these wicked guilty people to be pulled out and put to slaughter like sheep. Jeremiah was not happy about these prosperous wicked people.

Job maintains that he has not been fraudulent (Job 31:5-31:8)

“If I have walked with falsehood,

If my foot has hastened to deceit,

Let me be weighed in a just balance!

Let God know my integrity!

If my step has turned aside from the way,

If my heart has followed my eyes,

If any spot has clung to my hands,

Then let me sow!

Let another eat!

Let what grows for me be rooted out!”

The first question is falsehood. Has Job lied? Has Job cheated people? Job maintained that he had not deceived people. He had always used a just weight scale in his transactions. God knew his integrity. He had never turned from God’s way. If he has done anything wrong, let him be the sower and another person can eat of his crop. If he has been false and deceitful, whatever he has planted and grown should be rooted out.