Parable of Working Faith & Righteousness

Matt 13:31-32 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”


Etching by Jan Luyken illustrating the parable, from the Bowyer Bible.

Mustard Seed Faith

Luke 17:6 So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

As Christ mentioned in another parable, mustard seed in compared to Faith.

Together with Works

John 12:24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.

Rom 6:6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

The seed must die for it to grow. Similarly, for us to be no longer slaves of sin and grow as a new creation in Christ, we must also crucify the old man with Him.

Jas 2:17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Jas 2:22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?

If the seed didn’t die, it remains alone. However, if it did die, it will grow into a majestic tree. Similarly, Faith by itself is dead.  However, when it is working together with works, by works, faith is made perfect.

Tree of Righteousness

Jas 2:21-23 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.

A mustard seed faith working together with works is justified to account for righteousness that grows into a tree.

Isa 61:1-3 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,  (Jesus stops here – Ref: Luke 4:18-19) And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

Christ finished reading abruptly in the middle of the prophecy and said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21). After it, the prophecy continues about the day of vengenace of our God .Finally His people are called the trees of righteousness. This small faith will grow into a tree of righteousness inside every disciple of Christ.


A mustard seed is compared to faith which by itself is dead or will not grow without works. We need to crucify the old man for us to be no longer slaves of sin to become a new creation, just like the seed dies so that it can grow into a new life which justifies us to account for righteousness that grows like a tree within us. One day, God will call us trees of righteousness.

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