"Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”
(Parrallel passage in Matt 13:31-32)
Was Jesus making a contrast to the cedars of Lebanon and/or other large trees that were talked about in Ezek 17:22-24, 31:5-6; Dan 4:10-12; and Ps 104:10-17? These other passages spoke of grand and majestic trees that had large branches to shelter the birds of the air and other honorable animals.
What point is Jesus making when he tells a similar tale but with a mustard seed? The mustard seed was known to spread like a weed. It was against the law to plant it in a garden, because once it started to grow there was no stopping it. It would continue to spread whether you wanted it to or not.
"Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History (published around AD 78) writes that "mustard… is extremely beneficial for the health. It grows entirely wild, though it is improved by being transplanted: but on the other hand when it has once been sown it is scarcely possible to get the place free of it, as the seed when it falls germinates at once." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Mustard_Seed
Consider the type of people that were most likely to enter this kingdom of God. The wealthy and the religious folks seemed to be opposed to Jesus and His message. The good news of the kingdom of God seemed to spread most quickly amongst the poor, the underdogs, the outcasts, and the less fortunate. This less than desirable crowd were part of a growth that spread throughout the region and around the world. Many people haven't welcomed the growth, but many have taken shelter in it.
What do you think?
Did the kingdom of God go viral? Did it spread like wildfire throughout the world? Is the kingdom of God still growing? Are people welcoming or opposing the reign of God in our lives and world?