What is the mustard seed that Jesus mentions in this parable? I’ve seen mustard in a garden before and it grows wildly, spreading out and sprouting up all over the place with its prolific greens, tiny flowers, and famous seeds. It turns out that the mustard plant that Jesus talks about was probably pretty similar. The black mustard plant of the Ancient Near East could grow up to nine feet tall in a single growing season. In fact, it was such an invasive and aggressive plant that, according to rabbinical sources, Jews did not grow it in gardens. All of this from one of the tiniest seeds in the plant world!
We rightly marvel at how plants are able to grow in the way that they do. They seem to come out of nowhere and fashion their own existence out of nothing more than soil and sun. Today’s gospel tells us that, “the seed would sprout and grow, he [the planter] knows not how. Of its own accord, the land yields fruit.” This is how God grows our faith with the nurturing sustenance of God’s grace.
This parable tells me that God can work amazing things from my small offering of faith. On the days in my life when my faith seems like just a small speck in a sea of stress and things to do, this parable reminds me that even a small speck of faith can produce big results. My contribution to the kingdom of God can start with finding a place to plant that seed today.