Tuesday, October 14, 2008

No such thing as a mustard tree?

In Matthew 13, Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed, "but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."

(Jesus also likened faith to a mustard seed, but didn't talk about it turning into a tree.)

So has anyone ever seen a mustard tree? A Google search turned up a number of Oak Trees, and this picture of a guy standing next to... a bush.

So why did Christ say the mustard seed grows into a tree?

One explanation is that the growth of the kingdom of heaven is miraculous, growing beyond what would be expected.

Another might be that Christ was talking about a large mustard bush that could handle birds.

I like the former explanation, but who knows for sure?

Let me know if you have a better idea.


  1. When I find ambiguity in the language of the KJV, I usually reference the New Revised Standard Version. Here's the language there:
    "He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."

    Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to clarify your question in this instance.

    1. Always go to original text about specifics!

  2. But speaking of shrubs,

    I was at Lowe's on Monday, where a sign said "Clearance: All trees 25% off"

    I had two sapling trees, a Blue Colorado Spruce (1 foot; grows to be 25 feet tall) and a dwarf something or other. I said, are these trees 25% off, and the lady said, "No. Those aren't trees. Those are shrubs."

    If I was 50 years older I might have argued with her that a small tree is not a shrub. Instead, I just laughed (as per Elder Wirthlin's instructions) and went about my day.