The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Plain mustard

It's not extraordinary, after all but so beautiful

“With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade” (Mark 4:30-32).

Just to be sure, I checked again: Is there a mustard plant that’s tall, tall enough for birds to roost in, a mustard plant with long, strong branches, a mustard plant that dwarves everyone else in the garden?

MustardNo, there’s not. Not anywhere.

Mustard is mustard—plain and plentiful—a weed in many quarters, although its greens are good in a salad and its seeds make the famous condiment. The mustard Jesus knew is the same mustard we know.

We can only conclude that the enormous mustard plant of this passage is the fantasy of an anxious scribe, who simply couldn’t believe that our Lord meant to compare the kingdom of God to a common weed and so decided to help out Jesus, to explain what he thought Jesus must surely have meant: The kingdom of God is really amazing! It’s huge! It’s just incredible! You’ve never seen anything like it in your entire life!

But Jesus meant exactly the opposite: You’ve seen it before. It’s right here—it’s everywhere. It’s the beauty of a plant people think amounts to little or nothing. The kingdom of God is a common carpet of loveliness, golden in the sun, and anyone can walk in it. The kingdom of God is you, you who think you’re of no account, and it is you, you who are esteemed as of no account by others. Your beauty fills the earth, in community with all the other beauties God has made.


Marian Hughes

Marian Hughes

Posted at 2:12 pm (U.S. Eastern) 6/24/2008

The mustard plant is a sure sign of the water table in an area.  I am a fourth generation San Diego native in California and my father told me that when his grandfather came to the area the mustard plants grew as high as a man on horseback.  It is the same plant but it grew much taller.  Many a bird could nest in the mustard plant of old espacially our California Quail, which still loves a growth of mustard to nest.  I am sure since our wheather is very similar to that of Isreal that Christ knew areas that the mustard plant grew tall.

Stephen Miller

Stephen Miller

Posted at 6:50 pm (U.S. Eastern) 4/10/2009

This article makes me wonder what exactly Barbara believes in...if she thinks that anxious scribes filled the Bible with their own fantasies!

There is much historical proof that scribes have taken great care through the centuries to ensure every "i" was dotted and every "t" crossed according to previous manuscripts.  One of the biggest examples are the Dead Sea Scrolls.

God has protected His Word through the centuries.  It is alive, divinely inspired, and I believe (if not totally understand) every word of it.

It is unfortunate that Barbara thinks the Bible has been a victim of the whims of scribes.  Jesus' resurrection is just the fantasy of some anxious scribe?

I'm surprised The Lutheran Magazine would print something so apostate, but then the ELCA seems less and less concerned about the Truth of the Word too. 

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