Matthew 13:31-32

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31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.


31 Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."

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.