The parable of the mustard seed
August 31st, 2001
Received by H.
My dear brother H___, today I come in order to answer the question of our brother Mark, about the parable of the mustard seed. Mark has doubts whether this parable refers to the growth of the church as an institution, or to the growth of the inner Kingdom of God in the hearts of men.
I am happy to tell you that his appreciation is correct. In truth, it refers to the Kingdom’s growth within the souls of men, to its growth in Divine Love and faith. I would like to take this opportunity for saying a few words about Jesus’ parables or preaching in general.
I am really surprised to see how many people devoted to biblical studies, especially academic scholars, are unable to deduce correctly the true nature of Jesus’ teachings. When we extract all parables preserved in the New Testament and analyze them, we see that a great part refers to the topic of the New Birth and the transformation of soul. This is the case in the examples of the mustard seed, of the leaven in the batch of dough, of the new wine in old jars, of the new cloth on some old suit, of the foolish virgins, and in many other instances, where we can see clearly that Jesus speaks of internal changes in man’s soul.
As we know, he used the form of the parable to illustrate abstract contents, difficult to communicate in simple words, to make them easily understandable for people. Also, he used parables because Semitic tradition made a lot of use of the parable before and after Jesus’ era, and finally, because the language itself which he spoke, Aramaic, lent itself to that literary form, because it lacked abstract terms to a large extent, like Hebrew, and used concrete contents to represent abstract things.
The typically occidental way of thinking which you use is the product of Greek language and philosophy, and therefore foreign to the world in which Jesus moved.
When Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, he always showed that he referred to man’s interior, to the substantial change in him, and to the presence of Divine Love. He used expressions like “the Kingdom is not in the sky/heaven, because otherwise the birds would arrive first” [heaven and sky being the same word in Aramaic, as in many other languages], “the Kingdom of God is spread out upon the entire earth, and you don’t see it!”
In spite of Jesus’ clear focus, those specialists construct a supposed historical Jesus, who looks very different: The cynical preacher influenced by Greek philosophy, the miracle maker, the wise rabbi, or the authentic incarnate God. In their desire to abandon the worn out paths of theology, they get completely lost and cannot see what is before their eyes.
Jesus preached the Kingdom, the Kingdom which forms little by little in men’s souls, which transforms into something new, which is born again, as the leaven converts the mixture of flour, salt and water in something new, as the small mustard seed grows into something enormous.
Now, the idea that it may be an allusion to the future growth of the church is not correct, as Mark observed with good perceptions. First I want to repeat what has been said in so many communications: That Jesus didn’t come to found a new church, but that he rather delivered a vital principle, which can be integrated in any church, because it is a compatible principle with the great majority of religious denominations: to pray to the Father in order to become one with Him. This simple prayer, when it is really born out of the soul’s longings and desires, attracts with certainty the Father’s Love, and in this way the seed is planted, a seed which with the necessary and sustained collaboration on the part of man, will grow and cause essential changes in man. And starting with prayer, ecclesiastical reforms will be carried out automatically, and in a correct way.
Jesus taught a personal God, full of Love and open and accessible for the individual. This teaching, in some ways, constituted a threat against the Temple cult in Jerusalem. Although Jesus didn’t preach openly against this cult, he did criticize the priests’ attitude and conduct, but he also participated in that cult. The individual is responsible however, for establishing their own relationship with God, and therefore, their independence from any form of organized religion was a revolutionary and dangerous idea for a hierarchy which spiritually had already lost much of its credibility, and materially feared for its nurtured financial income.
In some ways, the word church in the context of Jesus’ authentic parables is an anachronism. This meaning as a religious congregation or assembly was coined in much later times, but it had an essentially different meaning in Jesus’ time. Jesus applied one facet more to the multifaceted Second Temple Judaism. He was born a Jew, he lived a Jew, and he died a Jew.
And that is very important to bear in mind, also in these modern times. When spreading the messages, it is necessary to put the same emphasis as Jesus did. There is no use in discussing if the trinity exists or not, if the virgin birth happened or not, or in discussing dogmas and creeds in general. The important thing is to focus upon man’s personal relationship to their Heavenly Father, the possibility of communicating with Him, through deep, soulful prayer, because once people start to pray correctly, with authentic soul longings, the Father’s answer will arrive in the form of His wonderful Love, and the seed is planted, that small mustard seed, which may grow to form an enormous plant, where the birds of the sky build their nests. But in order to demonstrate the power of prayer convincingly, you have to be examples: So, be examples!
Mark, I would like to use this occasion to thank you for all your indefatigable efforts on behalf of the Kingdom. You have come to have very keen perceptions. Use them without fear. Always remember that we are with you and guide you in your appreciations. Have more self-confidence, because your power of distinguishing things is greater than you may believe.
The Master said: “Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; I myself” – meaning Christ – “shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to him.”
And with these beautiful words I will say goodbye. It has been an attractive theme, for the parable of the mustard seed contains the soul of Jesus’ teachings. Our instrument is prayer, and as Mary, Jesus’ mother, says: “All those who pray are open to God’s Will in their hearts and joyfully witness God’s Love.”
Thank you for your time and for giving me the opportunity to express my thoughts,
Your brother in the spirit,
© Copyright is asserted in this message by Geoff Cutler 2013