Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe have written a popular handbook on Bible difficulties, I have chosen a couple of these to share with you that I thought were interesting.
Question: In the book of Matthew it states "without a parable He (Jesus) did not speak to them." However, Jesus gave His whole Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) without a single parable in it.
Solution: There are two qualifying factors that must be noted, one of which is stated and another implied. First, Matthew 13:34 states that Jesus spoke these things "to the multitude," whereas the Sermon on the Mount was given to His "disciples" (Matt. 5:1-2, even though the multitudes apparently listened in (Matt. 7:28). What is more, Jesus' statement may have only a reference to what He was doing at that time, not on every occasion. It does not say that He always and on every occasion spoke to a crowd only in parables. However, this interpretation is possible, since we have only a limited record of what Jesus spoke (Jn. 21:25).
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. 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."
Question: Did Jesus make a mistake when referring to the mustard seed as the smallest of all seeds?
Problem 1: Jesus said that the mustard seed was "the least of all the seeds."
However, today we know that the mustard seed is not the smallest seed of all. Some think Jesus was speaking of the black mustard seed. But, even this is not the smallest of all seeds.
Solution 1: Jesus was not referring to all the seeds in the world, but only those that a Palestinian farmer sowed in his field.
This is made clear by the qualifying phrase "which a man took and sowed in his field" And it is a fact that the mustard seed was the smallest of all seeds which the first century Jewish farmer sowed in his field.
So there is no contradiction here between Science and Scripture. What Jesus said was literally true in the context in which He said it.
Problem 2: Some claim that the mustard seed cannot grow big enough to house birds, let alone grow to tree size.
Solution 2: But this is not so, because there is evidence that some mustard seeds grow into trees about ten feet tall. This would certainly provide enough branch space for a bird to build a nest. (Matt. 13:32)
Reference: When Critics Ask by Geisler and Howe- Victor Books 1825 College Ave. Wheaton, Illinois 60187.
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