Barry Newman's Blog

October 31, 2012

The Parable of the Mustard Seed (part I)

Filed under: Parables of Jesus,The parable of the Mustard Seed — barrynewman @ 9:27 pm

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

Like the parable of the sower, the parable of the mustard seed occurs in all three synoptic Gospels: Matthew 13: 31, 32, Mark 4: 30 – 32 and Luke 13: 18, 19.

Matthew has Jesus introducing the parable with “the kingdom of heaven is like” whereas both Mark and Luke record Jesus beginning with a rhetorical question, “What is the kingdom of God like, what parable shall be used to illustrate it?” Each account refers to a grain a mustard seed which Matthew and Luke says a man took and sowed but which Mark records that it was sown.  Matthew reports Jesus saying that the seed was sown in a field, Mark, in the ground and Luke in a garden.  Matthew and Mark have Jesus narrating that the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds. Each of the Gospels refers to its growth. Matthew and Mark record Jesus saying that when it develops it is the greatest of (Mark: all) herbs. In Matthew it becomes a tree In Mark it produces large branches. In Luke it became a tree. All refer to “the birds of the air settling” there, with Matthew and Luke reporting “in its branches”; Mark, “in its shade”.  All three Gospels, but particularly Matthew and Luke, proceed as though it were a story, though there are some differences as regards tense or aspect.


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