Mustard Plant Faith

Jesus told us that the faith of a mustard seed could move mountains. Just faith, any kind of faith, any amount of faith, no matter how small, is all it takes to radically transform heaven and earth around us. It’s a captivating image that leads to a powerful question: Can we muster up any kind of faith at all?

What about the mustard plant faith of Jesus?

In Luke 13, Jesus says the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It’s planted, it grows, it turns into a tree, and all the birds of the air make homes in its branches. It’s an interesting image when you consider the mustard plant is actually a nuisance weed. It’s a terrible weed that only grows to two or three feet tall at the most. Farmers hate the mustard plant. It’s a pain.

Can you hear the disciples? “Um, Lord, that’s a nice story, but, um, I’m not sure how much we like being called a bad weed.”

I can imagine Jesus looking up and down at the guys and saying, “Be thankful. Be happy I didn’t call you something worse. Like a tumbleweed. And rejoice that what is unimpressive to you is very impressive to me.”

Jesus gives us this image of a mustard seed, a mustard weed, a tiny scraggly mustard plant growing as tall as a mighty tree with every species of bird living in its massive branches. A mustard tree providing shelter and shade and homes for all the birds of the air. Jesus is telling us, “I see things you don’t see. I know things you don’t know. I’m busy right now doing things you can’t even imagine.”

It’s a captivating image that leads to a powerful question: If Jesus is already moving mountains around us, can we just put our trust in him?




  1. Howard

    There might be some alternative explanations for the mustard plant. Below is what Wikipedia says under the heading of the parable of the mustard seed:

    The plant referred to here (Greek σίναπι, sinapi) is generally considered to be black mustard, a large annual plant up to 9 feet (2.7 m) tall,[1] but growing from a proverbially small seed

    • Allan

      Wikipedia, huh? Okay. The “black mustard” link from the page you reference tells us in the very best of conditions it might could grow to just under four feet tall. Either way, Jesus describes the plant as becoming more than what it is, more than can be imagined, greater than all the herbs and spices to become a massive tree that houses all the birds of the air. I believe the point remains the same.

      • Howard

        For the record, my quote above is copied from Wikipedia and says 9 feet.

        • Allan

          Yes, I know. But the link inside your Wikipedia quote says the plant “can reach up to 3ft 11in tall in moist fertile soil.” I don’t know if the same person who wrote nine feet also provided the link that says less than four feet, or if they are two different people. I’m not sure how Wikipedia works except that it’s not usually “for the record.”

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