As I read this text, a memory resurfaced of a discussion I had many years ago with someone who used this passage as evidence of errors in the Bible. He correctly told me the mustard seed is not the smallest of all the seeds. Neither is the mustard plant, when it is full grown, larger than all other garden plants.
I remember how pleased he seemed to be to prove the Scriptures have scientific errors.
I don’t know why that memory resurfaced. I learned long ago such arguments are specious at worst, and just plain silly at best. It is illogical to take what is clearly a proverbial style – symbolic or allegorical figures of speech – and insist on scientific accuracy.
But there is something else that ought to be considered here. Something more important than silly or specious arguments.
When people look for contradictions in the Bible to prove God a liar, they should be more circumspect. Not everyone looking for a boat bound for Tarshish will meet the merciful God in the storm. Many may find themselves swallowed by the water, and not miraculously protected by the fish.
Eternal life is too critical a destiny to miss because we insist on precision in a style of speech.