The Sower, The Mustard Seed, The Field, The Tree, and The Birds

Variables in the Parable of the Mustard Seed

Five variables made up the parable:

  1. the sower,
  2. the mustard seed,
  3. the field,
  4. the tree,
  5. and then the birds who come over to live in it.

Bible scholars agree that the sower in this scenario is Jesus, while the mustard seed is the Gospel. 

The parable speaks of how the seed grew into a tree, and science shows us that it can grow up to twenty feet tall.

This is substantial growth considering that it came from a seed with the size of just 1 millimeter in diameter.  

And once the tree grows big and sturdy, birds start to flock to it and build their nests in it. Interestingly enough,  the author referred to the birds as the wicked ones in another parable (Matt. 13:4, 19). We must take note of these as we will address their vitality later on in this chapter. 

Some preachers take this parable and make it a case for how God will grow big things out of the small that we plant. And to an extent, this concept is Biblical.

In another parable recorded in the Gospels, Jesus makes it a point to say that those who can be entrusted with little will be entrusted with much (Lk. 16:10). This means that if we stay faithful with whatever has been given to us now, God will eventually expand our capacity and entrust us with more. 

The Field

However, if we take it strictly, we will find that we are not the sowers. Rather, we are the field in which the mustard seed has been planted.

Once Jesus plants the seed of the Gospel into our lives, it will grow within us and take deep root in our lives. What is important to note here is that the mustard seed is pungent and fiery. And in many ways, this is an accurate depiction of the Gospel once applied to our lives.

The Bible contains many commands and passages about God, what is expected of us, and what He created humanity to be that we wrestle with it. In fact, it is the reason why many people who encounter it choose to turn away from it – it burns, and it makes us squirm. 

The quality of the field when the sower plants the seed is crucial. Here, we can draw a parallel to another insight given to us by Jesus through the parable of the sower: 

3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 Let anyone with earslisten!” (Matthew 13:3-9) 

The Farmer or the Seed Won’t Matter If the Soil is Bad

If the farmer planted the mustard seed on any other soil other than good soil, it wouldn’t really have borne good fruit.

We see this in the numerous people who attend church but don’t really stay.

God can use you to the tiny seed of the Gospel in other people’s hearts. However, if the state of their souls makes it impossible for these seeds to really take root and grow, then it won’t.

This can be discouraging for Christians to watch, especially if the fields still appear dry. However, we can rest in this: we can faithfully water the seeds God plants, and God will make them grow.  

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