Matthew 24:32 (CEB)
32“Learn this parable from the fig tree. After its branch becomes tender and it sprouts new leaves, you know that summer is near.
Mark 4:30-32 (CEB)
He continued, “What’s a good image for God’s kingdom? What parable can I use to explain it? Consider a mustard seed. When scattered on the ground, it’s the smallest of all the seeds on the earth; but when it’s planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all vegetable plants. It produces such large branches that the birds in the sky are able to nest in its shade.”
Luke 13:18-19 (CEB)
Jesus asked, “What is God’s kingdom like? To what can I compare it? It’s like a mustard seed that someone took and planted in a garden. It grew and developed into a tree and the birds in the sky nested in its branches.”
Discussion Questions Explanation
These questions are cumulative. For all ages, begin with the children’s questions and proceed through them roughly in order as far and deep as your group is willing to go. Depending on the energy that day, take even the youngest children all the way through the senior high questions if they are still engaged. After a few questions, the campers might even come up with their own questions to explore.
For this section of questions, there are no right or wrong answers (although there certainly are sometimes inappropriate answers). This is a time to let the students be creative and explore how they understand this story at whatever level of maturity or faith development they are.
As much as possible, try to respond to each of the students’ responses by simply reflecting back (repeating back or summarizing without adding your own commentary) what they have said to you or by asking another follow-up wondering question that comes to your mind. In this way, we affirm the students’ curiosity and train of thought rather than guiding them to one particular answer. The parable has many many facets... explore as many as you have energy for.
I wonder if the person who put the tiny seed in the ground has a name?
Do you think the person was happy to see the birds coming?
What was the person doing while the shrub was growing?
Could the person take the shrub, which is like a tree, and push it all back down into the seed?
I wonder if the seed was happy while it was growing?
Where was the seed when it stopped growing?
I wonder if the birds have names?
Do you think they were happy to find the tree?
I wonder what the tree could really be?
Have ever come close to this kind of parable tree?
What could the nests really be?
I wonder where this whole place could really be?