The second parable given is the Parable of the Mustard Seed. This parable is smaller and easier to manage than the previous parable because it has fewer elements involved.
He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES.” – Matthew 13:31-32
Jesus is using similar terminology in this parable (compared to the previous parable). If this terminology can be compared on a 1:1 ratio the mustard seed would represent the sons of the kingdom, the man would represent the Son of Man, and the field would represent the world.
The fact that the Kingdomof Heaven(KoH) is compared to a smaller set of elements is evidence in favor of the view that the KoH is being represented by the seeds that the farmer is planting. This helps support Alan’s comments in the previous post concerning the Parable of the Tares. Which I now lean towards as the correct interpretation.
This parable is actually retold inMarkand Luke. They are almost identical except for one major point. Mark and Luke both say the Kingdom of God, rather than the Kingdom of Heaven.
And He said, “How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it?It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR can NEST UNDER ITS SHADE.” – Mark 4:30-32
So He was saying, “What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden; and it grew and became a tree, and THE BIRDS OF THE AIR NESTED IN ITS BRANCHES.” – Luke 13:18-19
This leads me to believe that the two phrases are somewhat synonymous. I have heard people say that the KoH represents one thing while the KoG represents another, but this does not allow the distinction to exist. The only argument that might be made is that Matthew uses the two phrases to represent different things. He uses KoG four times (Matthew 12:28, 19:24, 21:31, & 21:43). I do not think you can make a strong case that these are different from the uses in Mark, Luke, or his own uses of KoH.
Now, let me subtly turn the discussion to the “birds of the air.” This is quoted in the NASB as an Old Testament reference from Ezekiel 17:23, Psalms 104:12, Ezekiel 31:6, and Daniel 4:12. These OT verses seem to indicate that the birds being able to nest in this tree is a sign of greatness and power.
What do you think?
P.S. I wrote another blog about this parable, comparing it to the parable in Mark as a better solution to the “smallest seed” issue brought up by many skeptics. Check it out if you are interested.