Mark 4:30-32

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BibleNew TestamentMark
RSV

30 And he said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."


Jesus spoke of mustard seed as the smallest of all sown seeds, which grows into a big tree. But many seeds are smaller than mustard, including seeds commonly grown for food.

There is no need to be alarmed by this conversational untruth: if we can understand what the Lord meant by it, we are reading the Bible literately, not literally.

On the other hand if his exaggeration makes us uneasy because it is untrue, we are likely to misread Scripture and turn it into a bad joke. See this shameful example ("The smallest of seeds") from Kentucky.