Excerpted from: The Primacy of Stewardship,
"Chapter Two: The Tree of Life: Jesus Taught Evolution"
In Matthew Chapter 13, Jesus tells the parable of the mustard seed, which is unlike any other in that it makes no sense and implies, if taken as recorded, that either Jesus was a fool who knew nothing about trees and birds or the Gospel writer completely misunderstood what Jesus said. Or, there is a third possibility, which I believe is what occurred. That third explanation is that the original parable was misunderstood by its listeners, and the misunderstanding was preserved in all following translations. …
Here is the parable as commonly interpreted in the Bible:
The Parable of the Mustard Seed:
31. Another parable he set before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field. 32. This indeed is the smallest of all the seeds; but when it grows up it is larger than any herb and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and dwell in its branches."
If we accept this wording as the accurate original, we have three challenging issues that suggest the parable cannot be from the mouth of a man with knowledge.
First: The mustard seed is not the smallest of all seeds;
Second: The mustard seed does not become a tree;
Third: The birds of the air do not all dwell in the branches of any single type of tree.
… I concluded that the kingdom of heaven means the kingdom of life in the universe, not just on Earth. In several parables, Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven "is like a farmer." Why would he persistently compare the kingdom of life to a farmer? …
This parable does not make any meaningful sense unless Jesus is saying something about the kingdom of life in the universe. That is how the parable begins: "The kingdom of heaven is like... ." Now I take the version I have from Matthew and I delete [the birds of the air come and dwell] and insert (all the little creatures):
31. Another parable he set before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field. 32. This indeed is the smallest of all the seeds; but when it grows up it is larger than any herb and becomes a tree, so that all the little creatures are in its branches." Or, "...are its branches." (Words in italics in this passage are the author's interpretation.)
… I believe that this is the original parable, and the ancient disciples and other listeners, having no idea what Jesus was talking about, heard "all the little creatures" and were certain that Jesus must have been talking about birds nesting or perching in trees.
… if the tree is actually the kingdom of life in the heavens, then it must be the tree of all life, and that would make it The Tree of Life, a religious symbol for life in the universe that is found throughout the world and was recognized among our oldest civilizations long before Jesus spoke to us. …
Jesus' "mustard tree" is the Tree of Life and the Tree of Evolution.
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