This morning we read two parables from the Gospel according to Matthew: of the mustard seed and of leaven. These two are in the company of many other parables told by Jesus throughout the Gospels. As our text today tells us: “Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing.” Google defines a parable is a simple story that illustrates for the audience a lesson. But Peter Rollins, an Irish theologian, has a much better definition – if you ask me.
“Parables are a type of weaponized dis-course that knock us off course, onto radically new ones. They tactically confront us with disturbing truths we might otherwise miss and reveal what lies in darkness. At turns funny, poignant, irreverent and shocking, they cut into us with surgical precision, reaching deep into the hidden recesses of our soul, operating on those parts of our being that more direct speech can’t touch.”
Let’s take a look at the parable of the mustard seed through the lens of this definition. Read it again – its short.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
What course do you sense this parable is trying to knock you off of? What is Jesus revealing? What part of my soul does it touch?
For me, it is the false narrative that value is dependent on bigger and better. Jesus is revealing to me that even when so small it can barely be recognized, if tended, the Kingdom or my faith will grow into something that serves God’s purposes.