As I've been reading through the New Testament now, I've found that Jesus tells a lot of stories that start, "The kingdom of heaven is like..." and proceeds to give an illustration of some aspect of God's domain. The story of the mustard seed is one of those stories, found almost verbatim both in Matthew 13: 31-32 and Luke 13: 18-19. Jesus says, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches." (Matthew)
Many of you know that I have a personal ongoing project called Tree Stories, with an accompanying blog at http://www.tree-stories.blogspot.com/, so the story of heaven being like a tree was something I had to jump at. So the first thing I set out to do was find out what a mustard tree looked like, and see if there were any near me that I could get a photograph of. Not long into my online research, I realized there is no such thing as a mustard tree - so what, I had to ask, was Jesus talking about? And I found a commentary that seemed to answer that exact question, better than anything I had ever heard. (Unfortunately I don't know where that was, but if someone else finds it again, I'll put a link in here.)
So here's what Jesus was saying, that heaven is like a seed you plant, the tiniest of seeds, expecting to get a bush, actually a pretty big bush from such a small seed, and what you get is a tree, larger than anything else in the garden, bigger and better than you would have ever expected. It's not just the concept of a huge thing coming from a small thing, like I have seen some translations make the story a pine nut and a huge pine tree - no, heaven is more than what you expect, impossible for you to completely imagine, better than your wildest dreams! Jesus wasn't referring to some obscure tree and as the Creator himself, he certainly knew that trees don't grow from mustard seeds - but he wanted us to understand that is exactly what heaven is like - the impossible come to life.
So this will become one of my Visions of Heaven, also one of my Tree Stories, and the title is Tree Story #30: The Mustard Tree. This colored version here is just a colored copy, but I'll post the final here when I get that far. I've got other pieces that are Visions of Heaven Tree Stories, which you can find on my Tree Stories blog, but I'll post here with a little more commentary at a later date.
(If you click on the "mustard tree" link below, you will see all my posts on the subject, including the final piece.)