Luke 13:18-19

[Jesus] said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

A holy weed

Mustard is a weed. It is persistent. It spreads. It can be found everywhere. This is true in our day, and it was true in ancient times as well. An ancient Roman writer, lawyer, statesman, general, and naturalist Pliny the Elder, living at the same time as Jesus, had this to say about Mediterranean Black Mustard, the kind Jesus was almost definitely talking about in his parable.

“Mustard, which with its pungent taste and fiery effect is extremely beneficial for the health. […] but on the other hand when it is has been sown it is scarcely possible to get the place free of it, as the seed when it falls germinates at once.”

I imagine this is what Jesus has in mind too when he references mustard in his parable. Yes there is a remarkable characteristic of its tiny seeds as they grow from minute to shade giving, but it is also remarkable for its wide ranging growth.

This is how grace works. God’s grace is not stingy. God’s grace grows and grows. A little bit of sun, a little bit of water, a little bit of love and forgiveness and it is scarcely possible to get the place free of it.

This, Jesus says, is what the kingdom of God is like. When spring hits in full force this coming month or two. As you hunch over to pull out the dandelions from patches of verdant green, even as you curse their persistence of these pesky plants, give thanks to God who like the mustard seed shows up again and again and again.

Pr. Daniel Joyner Miller