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Mark 4:31 [The kingdom of God] is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth.
Jesus’ audience would have been familiar with the promise in Ezekiel 17:22-24, that a branch from a cedar tree would be planted on the mountain height of Israel: this grand and noble tree would bear fruit, and its branches provide shade and shelter for every kind of bird.
This is what the people expect Jesus to talk about. But instead, he uses the image of the mustard seed, which grows into a big, ugly bush, and is more comparable to a weed than a strong and beautiful tree. Moreover, the word Jesus uses for “birds” is not the word for majestic creatures of the air, but “fowl,” the lowly and undesirable birds.
Why is God’s kingdom likened to a pervasive weed? Perhaps it grows like the mustard seed, tenaciously overtaking its surroundings, providing refuge for the unwanted, the misfits, and the outcasts.
MOVING FORWARD: Do you imagine the kingdom of God as a grand noble tree or the mustard bush? Think about how God often delivers the unexpected.