on Matthew 13 :31
The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed - This parable is a representation of the progress of the Gospel in the world; and of the growth of grace in the soul. That grace which leads the soul to the fullness of glory may begin, and often does, in a single good desire - a wish to escape hell, or a desire to enjoy God in heaven.
on Matthew 13 :31
See also Mark 4:30-32. The kingdom of heavens See the notes at Matthew 3:2. It means here either piety in a renewed heart or the church. In either case the commencement is small. In the heart it is at first feeble, easily injured, and much exposed. In the church there were few at first, ignorant, unknown, and unhonored; yet soon it was to spread through the world.
Grain of mustard-seed - The plant here described was very different from that which is known among us. It was several years before it bore fruit and became properly a tree. Mustard, with us, is an annual plant: it is always small, and is properly an herb. The Hebrew writers speak of the mustard-tree as one on which they could "climb," as on a fig-tree. Its size was much owing to the climate. All plants of that nature grow much larger in a warm climate, like that of Palestine, than in colder regions. The seeds of this tree were remarkably small, so that they, with the great size of the plant, were an apt illustration of the progress of the church and of the nature of faith, Matthew 17:20.
"I have seen," says Dr. Thomson,this plant on the rich plain of Akkar as tall as the horse and his rider. It has occurred to me on former visits that the mustard-tree of the parable probably grew at this spot, or possibly at Tabiga, near Capernaum, for the water in both is somewhat similar, and so are the vegetable productions. To furnish an adequate basis for the proverb, it is necessary to suppose that a variety of it was cultivated in the time of our Saviour, which grew to an enormous size, and shot forth large branches, so that the fowls of the air could lodge in the branches of it. It may have been perennial, and have grown to a considerable tree; and there are traditions in the country of such so large that a man could climb into them; and after having seen "red pepper" bushes grow on year after year, into tall shrubs, and the "castor-bean" line the brooks about Damascus like the willows and the poplars, I can readily credit the existence of mustard-trees large enough to meet all the demands of our Lord's parable. - "The Land and the Book," vol. ii. p. 101.
Young converts often suppose they have much religion. It is not so. They are, indeed, in a new world. Their hearts glow with new affections. They have an elevation, an ecstasy of emotion, which they may not have afterward like a blind man suddenly restored to sight. The sensation is new and especially vivid, yet little is seen distinctly. His impressions are indeed more vivid and cheering than those of him who has long seen and to whom objects are familiar. In a little time, too, the young convert will see more distinctly, will judge more intelligently, will love more strongly, though not with so much "new emotion," and will be prepared to make more sacrifices for the cause of Christ.
on Matthew 13 :31
13:31 He proposed to them another parable - The former parables relate chiefly to unfruitful hearers; these that follow, to those who bear good fruit. The kingdom of heaven - Both the Gospel dispensation, and the inward kingdom. Mark 4:30; Luke 13:18.