The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Matthew 13:31
Brassica nigra is the mustard of the Bible lands, a species of the mustard family, Cruciferae. Cousin to many vegetables including turnip, broccoli and collards, mustard has large, deeply lobed green leaves at the base of the plant, leafing out sturdily in a mild winter or early spring’s cool weather.
The young, fast–sprouting cruciferous forms an arching habit about two feet tall. As weather warms, the plant will ‘bolt,’ a common occurrence among family members, sending up tall, spindly flowering stalks with plentiful, four–petaled, pale–yellow blossoms. Flowers yield pods of small, round, dark seeds. Crushing the seeds releases the pungent taste and bold yellow color that characterizes the mustard condiment.
In illustrating his story with a mustard seed, Jesus chose a plant with “unpredictable” spice. Jesus also used hyperbole when describing the grown plant, characterizing the blessing from God as being similar to a cedar of Lebanon rather than a low–growing, relatively humble plant. Far from being a magic bean, this surprising, “Jack and the Beanstalk”– type moment springs from God’s transforming power to radically and unexpectedly provide for those who are faithful to his calling.
What amazing transformation have you seen in your life?
Excerpted from the NIV God’s Word for Gardeners Bible.