Don’t cut the mustard; be the mustard

First United Methodist Church, McMinnville, Tenn., June 16, 2024

John I. Carney
10 min readJun 16, 2024

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Photo of jar of French’s classic yellow mustard.

Mark 4:26–34 (CEB)

Then Jesus said, “This is what God’s kingdom is like. It’s as though someone scatters seed on the ground, then sleeps and wakes night and day. The seed sprouts and grows, but the farmer doesn’t know how. The earth produces crops all by itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full head of grain. Whenever the crop is ready, the farmer goes out to cut the grain because it’s harvesttime.”

He continued, “What’s a good image for God’s kingdom? What parable can I use to explain it? Consider a mustard seed. When scattered on the ground, it’s the smallest of all the seeds on the earth; but when it’s planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all vegetable plants. It produces such large branches that the birds in the sky are able to nest in its shade.”

With many such parables he continued to give them the word, as much as they were able to hear. He spoke to them only in parables, then explained everything to his disciples when he was alone with them.

The first part of this Bible passage is, according to the great Bible commentator William Barclay, the only parable that’s exclusive to Mark — it appears in Mark and nowhere else. Jesus compares the Kingdom…

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John I. Carney

Author of “Dislike: Faith and Dialogue in the Age of Social Media,” available at http://www.lakeneuron.com/dislike