The mustard seed (Lk 13:19-13:19)

“The kingdom of God

Is like

A mustard seed

That someone took.

He sowed it

In his garden.

It grew.

It became a tree.

The birds of the air

Made nests

In its branches.”

 

ὁμοία ἐστὶν κόκκῳ σινάπεως, ὃν λαβὼν ἄνθρωπος ἔβαλεν εἰς κῆπον ἑαυτοῦ, καὶ ηὔξησεν καὶ ἐγένετο εἰς δένδρον, καὶ τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ κατεσκήνωσεν ἐν τοῖς κλάδοις αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that the kingdom of God was like a mustard seed (ὁμοία ἐστὶν κόκκῳ σινάπεως) that someone took (ὃν λαβὼν ἄνθρωπος) and sowed in his garden (ἔβαλεν εἰς κῆπον ἑαυτοῦ).  Then it grew (καὶ ηὔξησεν) and became a tree (καὶ ἐγένετο εἰς δένδρον).  The birds of the air (καὶ τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ) made nests (κατεσκήνωσεν) in its branches (ἐν τοῖς κλάδοις αὐτοῦ).  Luke did not explicitly say that this mustard seed was the smallest seed, but implied it symbolically.  However, this seed could grow to become a tree or shrub where birds could nest.  There was no explanation of this parable, except the clear indication that the kingdom of God might start out small but would grow to hold many people.  This parable of the mustard seed can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 13:31-32, and Mark, chapter 4:31-32, plus here.  Jesus, via Mark, said that the kingdom of God was like a mustard seed or a grain of mustard.  When planted in the ground, it is the smallest of all seeds on earth.  But when it has grown after being planted, it becomes greater than all the garden plants or shrubs.  It then produced great branches.  Thus, the birds of the air would be able to come and perch or build nests in the shade of its branches.  What started out small can become quite large.  Jesus, via Matthew, explicitly presented them with another short parable.  He said that the kingdom of heaven, not the kingdom of God, was like a mustard seed.  A man planted this seed in his field.  When planted, it was the smallest of all seeds.  But when it was grown, it was the greatest of garden plants or shrubs.  It then became a tree.  Thus, the birds of the air could come and perch or build nests in its branches.  What started out small can become quite large. Do you know something small that became large?

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The large upper room (Mk 14:15-14:15)

“He will show you

A large room,

Upstairs,

Furnished,

And ready.

Prepare things

For us there!”

 

καὶ αὐτὸς ὑμῖν δείξει ἀνάγαιον μέγα ἐστρωμένον ἕτοιμον· καὶ ἐκεῖ ἑτοιμάσατε ἡμῖν.

 

There is something similar to this in Luke, chapter 22:12, but nothing about the description of this upstairs room in MatthewMark said that Jesus told the 2 unnamed disciples that the owner of this house would show them a large upstairs room (καὶ αὐτὸς ὑμῖν δείξει ἀνάγαιον μέγα).  This room would be completely furnished (ἐστρωμένον) and already prepared (ἕτοιμον) for a meal.  That is where they were to make the final preparations (καὶ ἐκεῖ ἑτοιμάσατε ἡμῖν) for the Passover meal for Jesus and his apostles.  Thus, it would make sense if these two disciples were Peter and John, as Luke indicated, since they were among the 12 apostles, who would be later attending this Passover.

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.

Measuring the holy of holies (Ezek 41:3-41:4)

“Then he went into

The inner room.

He measured the pilasters

Of the entrance,

Two cubits.

The width

Of the entrance was

Six cubits.

The sidewalls

Of the entrance were

Seven cubits.

He measured

The depth

Of the room,

Twenty cubits.

It width was

Twenty cubits,

Beyond the nave.

He said to me.

‘This is the most holy place.’”

The bronze man brought Ezekiel into the sanctuary, the holy of holies in the Temple, called the Debir. As usual, the bronze man began to measure everything. The pilasters were only 2 cubits or 3 feet on each side. The entrance was also relatively small, about 6 cubits or 9 feet wide. However, the sidewalls were large, bout 7 cubits or 10 feet on each side. This holy of holies was square, 20 cubits by 20 cubits, about 35 feet by 35 feet, a small square room. However, this room was completely different, since the bronze man said that this room was the most holy place.

The fruitful vine (Ezek 19:10-19:11)

“Your mother was

Like a vine

In a vineyard,

Transplanted

By the water.

She was fruitful.

She was full of branches

From abundant water.

Her strongest stem

Became

A ruler’s scepter.

It towered aloft

Among the thick boughs.

It stood out

In its height

With the mass

Of its branches.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel has another allegory about a vine. This vine was like their mother, large and fruitful. The reference here is to Judah as the mother of the people. This vine had been taken from a normal vineyard and planted near a large water supply. It had long stems so that one became a ruler’s scepter. It was tall with thick branches as it stood out because of its height and massive branches.

The announcement of the ruin (Isa 10:22-10:23)

“Though your people Israel were

Like the sand of the sea,

Only a remnant of them

Will return.

Destruction is decreed,

overflowing with righteousness.

Yahweh,

God of hosts,

Will make a full end,

As decreed,

In all the earth.”

The answer is simple. Although Israel would have been as numerous as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return from the Exile. Yahweh has decreed destruction in his righteousness. The God of many armies will put an end here on earth. The ruin of Israel is coming. Perhaps it already had come by the time of this writing. In fact, the Israelites were never a large amount of people like the sands of the seas.

A reproach against large estates (Isa 5:8-5:10)

“Woe to you

Who join house to house!

Woe to you

Who add field to field!

Finally there is room

For no one but you.

You are left

To live alone

In the midst of the land.

Yahweh of hosts has sworn

In my hearing.

‘Surely many houses

Shall be desolate.

Large houses

Will be without inhabitants.

Beautiful houses

Will be without inhabitants.

Ten acres of vineyard

Shall yield but one bath.

A homer of seed

Shall yield a mere ephah.’”

Next Isaiah issues a series of curses or reproaches to the people of Judah. First of all, he rants about the idea of people wanting too much land. If you add house to house, or field to field, you make it difficult for others. Your huge estate will leave you to live alone on your land. Yahweh had spoken to Isaiah to say that many houses will lay desolate. Large and beautiful houses will be empty. The land will not yield much. 10 acres will only produce about 6 gallons (a bath) of a crop. 6 bushels of seed (a homer) will produce less than a bushel of grapes (an ephah). The more you try to expand your living area and your fields, the more it will come to very little.