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The Biblical Importance of the Mustard Seed and the Significance to the Believer's Faith

The Biblical Importance of the Mustard Seed and the Significance to the Believer's Faith


The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds that we can encounter in our world today. With the exact size of around 1 to 2 millimetres, it is an important herb that is being used in many regional foods. Actually, for a first-century famer, a variant of mustard seed which is the black mustard seed was the smallest seed that they have ever sown.


Despite its size, the Scriptures has reference the seed various time in the New Testament specifically in the teachings of Jesus in the Synoptic. Jesus used the mustard seed as an analogy for the Kingdom of God and He also encouraged His disciples to have faith – mustard seed-sized. But what does the symbolism really means in the context of Jesus’ words? What is the biblical origin of the famous seed? Why is the mustard seed important to believers of today?


God’s Kingdom and Faith


“He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” – Matthew 13:31-32


“He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20


The first mention of Jesus of the mustard seed is in Matthew 13:31 comparing it to the kingdom of God. In these verses, Jesus stated some truths that about God’s Kingdom that is also applicable to our lives today as well.


 1. Be willing to start small

Jesus stated in the verse that the mustard seed is the “smallest of all seeds”. Being the smallest, a person might think that it is insignificant and dispensable. An unimportant object in the vast abundance of its kind. Jesus Himself, in His earthly origin came from a very small town, Nazareth which made Nathaniel mused, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46)


Most people have a common mentality that being small is synonymous with being immaterial. However, almost everyone starts small. No matter how big your dreams are, it will start with baby steps and then eventually will gain momentum. Even Jesus started with only 12 disciples and those men are ordinary men that include fishermen, tax collector and common people. But as we all know, those few people have started a movement and now 2.2 billion people or 32% of the world’s population identify themselves as Christians. Indeed, we cannot measure the impact that a person or an event can make based on its size. Just like the mustard seed where the cliché expression, “Small but terrible” is very apt.


2. Focus on the Goal

The mustard seed starts the smallest but finishes as ‘the largest of the garden plants’. And due to its size, ‘birds can come and perch in its branches.’ Even if it is the smallest of the seeds, the mustard seed will accomplish something that other plants can’t do. But first it needs to grow, it needs to be nourished, it needs to be cultivated.


A believer must always focus with the end in mind. He must be always looking ahead towards the glory that God has promised to those who will persevere. No matter how small steps we are taking right now, as long as it is according to God’s will for our lives, we can have the assurance that one day it will be big! One day we will make a difference in the lives of the people around us. But we must be willing to do the hard work today.


3. Live by Faith

Jesus word’s on Matthew 17:20 spurring His disciples to have ‘faith that as small as a mustard seed’ can be quite discouraging for others. They interpret the verse as if Jesus is saying that we really don’t have faith since we can’t muster a faith that is as small as a mustard seed. But this pattern of thinking is plain wrong. Jesus wanted to show us what faith can really do to our lives. Even faith in the size of a mustard seed can make the impossible happen.


The word ‘faith’ appears 336 times in the King James Version of the Bible, that’s how important faith is for a believer of Jesus Christ. In the book of the prophet Habakkuk, it was mentioned that ‘the righteous shall live by faith’ (Habakkuk 2:4).


So with regards to our personal lives how should we respond to these teachings of the Bible in connection with the mustard seed?


a. Grow – we need to continually develop ourselves. We must choose to continually learn and hone our skills in order to provide meaningful contributions in the lives of people around us. Like the mustard seed, we cannot stay as an embryo and expect that birds can perch on our branches. We need to grow in the way we think, our character and values and eventually we will be able to help others in a more meaningful way.


b. Be Nourished – a seed will become a plant if it will be properly nourished. What will it take for us to be nourished? In the realm of faith, we can be nourished by continuously spending time with God in prayer and His words. As Jesus said to the devil, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)


c. Be Cultivated – to be cultivated is to practice what we learn. We can learn and grow more in application than just reading and comprehension. A mustard seed that is planted and has proper care can become something useful and important. Studying the Word is the foundation, like the mustard's seed cultivation. Practicing the Word in our lives every day can help others find comfort and safety, just as the mustard plant does in Luke 13:19. "It is like a grain of mustard seed a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree which the birds came and made nests."

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