While rehearsing my sermon early Sunday morning–titled “Five Cent Coupon,” on Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52–I started to go back to the scripture and re-think some of my research on the subject of the parable of the mustard seed. The NRSV translation of the key part of the lection is this:
He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the 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.”
I really struggled with writing the sermon this week, perhaps because last week’s sermon (“You Put Your Weeds In There”) was on the parable of the seeds and weeds, where the weeds are burned. But this week is a celebration of the weed, specifically the mustard weed.
A key issue here is that mustard doesn’t grow into grow into trees, it’s a weed. So in this parabolic fantasy realm, what does it mean beyond its obvious statement about proliferation?
I decided to mention in a very gentle way as a side comment during the sermon that mustard oil, made from mustard seeds, is known to be a male sexual stimulant. Could it be that this is what is going on in this scripture? Is this what the “tree” is all about? This sort of adianoeta isn’t too far away from the sexual imagery in the Song of Solomon. What do you think?