31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32 which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” — Matthew 13:31,32.
The mustard scrub can grow to a height of ten feet. The things of God may appear small in the world, yet have great results. Certainly the kingdom of heaven at that point in history appeared to be nothing in comparison with Rome, yet it would prove to be much greater.
The picture of a tree with birds nesting in the branches recalls Ezek. 17:23, where the birds represent the Gentile nations taking refuge in the Messiah and enjoying the blessings of the covenant.
The gospel in its simplicity is insignificant. It is despised. But let someone actually believe it, and see what happens. Let them really trust Christ and invite him into their life and it is the most transforming, the most revolutionary thing that can occur to them. It is the beginning of a radical change in all their life.
The mustard is a seasonal plant and not a tree. But when it is grown, sometimes up to 10-12 feet, it can look more like a tree than a plant. Our Lord uses the seed as a symbol for the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom has a humble beginning, but it keeps growing until it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree! It is greater than any kingdom or nation on earth! It is in a position to accommodate “the birds of the air” in its branches! All who are seeking, find refuge in the kingdom of our Lord.