Gospel of Thomas - Chapter 022

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Saying 20

(20) The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like."
He said to them, "It is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest of all seeds. But when it falls on tilled soil, it produces a great plant and becomes a shelter for birds of the sky."

From Matthew:

Mt 13:31 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:
Mt 13:32 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.

This saying of Thomas is suggestive that Thomas wrote before Matthew did. Matthew felt compelled to explain the riddle in greater detail. Here are the hints:

Herbs (also a symbol of Christ) were made for man to eat: (Ge 1:29, Ge 3:18)

Jesus was the least among the seed of the woman because he came to serve us all. The greatest thing man can eat is the body of Christ, and so he is the greatest herb. The cross is the tree of life. Those who live in the spirit (the sky) find shelter in the cross.

Go to Gospel of Thomas - Chapter 023