Summary: A study of the gospel of Luke 13:18-19
The Red Grocer
“18 Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.”
A few people have said to me, why are we going so slowly in our study of the Gospel of Luke? In response I say, ‘What’s your hurry? You got to finish up the study of the Bible to get your degree or something in this area?
I just see how awesome God’s Word is. Why rush? If you want a nothing meal, go to McDonald’s. If you want a nicely cook filet mignon then let us savor God’s great truth.
Today we are going to look at three verses where our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us about His Kingdom.
There is a popular grocery store around here by the name of ‘The Green Grocer’. In today’s study you will see that the successful growth is due not to a green grocer but to a red grocer.
Many bible teachers look at these verses as something great that is prophesized about His future church. I do not see these verses as complementary but sadly as a corruption. Have I now gotten your interest? So, let us take a look first at the other two Gospels which record this same teaching of our Lord Jesus.
Mark 4: 30 – 32, “30 Then He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? 31 It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; 32 but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”
Matthew 13:31-32, “31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32 which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
Now remember that our Master, Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ died and arose again. This happened around the year 29 AD because many scholars have dated our Lord’s birth around 4 BC not at 0 AD. He was 33 years old when our Lord went to the cross to pay our debts.
Now then almost 20 years had gone by since our King returned to Heaven. The apostle Matthew in around 50 AD put down on paper the words and actions of our Holy Lord. Look again at his version of what our Lord said regarding the kingdom, “31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32 which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
All of these versions as first seem similar but there are some major difference.
All three refer to the word of God regarding His Good News and He kingdom as a ‘Mustard Seed’. So, before we go deeper we want to clarify exactly what a mustard seed is.
The mustard seed is not the smallest of all seeds. Our Holy Adoni Yeshua was speaking proverbially. That is, he wasn't making a statement of absolute fact but using a proverbial style of communication.
There are different kinds of mustard trees in Israel and the mustard seed was the smallest of all the seeds known there and used by those in Israel. Also, notice that our Lord Jesus says that when it is full grown it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree so that the birds nest in it. There were many gardens in Israel with many types of plants, many of which were larger than the mustard plant. The olive tree for example, can grow to 20 feet or more. The mustard tree known as Salvadora persica has extremely small seeds and grows into a small bush. Brassica nigra is a mustard plant that grows to about 8 to 10 feet when mature and is probably the one Jesus was using for his illustration. Our Lord Jesus Who Created all things would have known that it wasn't the largest of garden plants because of the prevalence of larger plants. Therefore, He was not making a botanical statement of fact. Instead, he was drawing attention to the comparison of the "smallest" to the "largest" and using it to illustrate how the Kingdom of heaven will expand in the world from a very small beginning to a huge presence.