Looking on the Outside
The young child races around the yard, the lawn, the field behind the house, excited, full of joy, the smile plastered on the youngling's faces is infectious. They pluck up cheerful little flowers to give to someone who takes care of them. They are full to the brim, overflowing with love for their caregiver, the child yearns to give something back in return. So they load up their tiny fist with as many beautiful blooms as they possibly can, flower heads bobbing, stems breaking in the child's enthusiasm to collect the bouquet. With a pleased and happy grin, the child waves a fistful of dandelions at their beloved caregiver, a lovely bunch of weeds, a gift of love.
One person's nasty weed is another's beautiful bloom. Only love makes the difference.
What do dandelions and mustard have in common? The easy answer is "They are both yellow!", and while that is true for the little flowers that provide yellow mustard spice, there is another mustard. Black mustard is a tough twiggy weed that invades farmer's fields and causes havoc for cultivation. This weed can grow into a nine foot tall shrub, like a lilac with a stronger trunk. The seeds of this plant are also used to make "moutarde" - mustard, in French, and at the time of Jesus' teachings, the plant would certainly have been known about in the region. It was a pest for farmers who did not want to grow it, and they would root it out, get rid of the weed whenever it blossomed. It is this weed that Jesus spoke of when he taught about the Kingdom of God being like a mustard seed. This plant had the potential to become tall, if allowed to grow, and the branches of the bush spread out not from a central stalk, but from a point in the ground where various stems all begin to branch, creating a canopy for animals to nest within. It is an unexpected plant, tougher than anticipated, and therefore full of surprises. Likewise, the Kingdom of God improbably grows out of a small seed, difficult to uproot, but also persistent. And when the weed is allowed to grow, better yet, if it is loved and cultivated, it gives shelter and rest, even to those who pause in the shade of the shrub, but do not know the origins of the weed.
Looking on the outside, a dandelion is a weed that takes over the beautiful grassy lawn, the black mustard plant is a twiggy tough field invader that causes havoc in the carefully cultivated field. Instead, the dandelion and the mustard shrub are like the Kingdom of God - improbable, persistent, and the eyes of love reveal the true nature.