Secrets of the Kingdom- Part 3 The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast

Read Matthew 13:31-35

Here we have another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches” (vs. 31-32). At first glance I thought that this simply meant that the spread of the gospel would start out small and then grow in size. It even suggests this in the notes of my study bible as a “likely explanation.” As I started to dig deeper, another perspective I had not seen before started to emerge. In Matthew 17:20 Jesus talks about “mustard seed faith.” He was agitated at his disciples for bringing a demon possessed boy to him that they were unable to heal themselves. He tells them that they were unable to drive the demon out themselves because they didn’t have enough faith. He goes on by saying, if they were to have the faith the size of a mustard seed, they could say to this mountain, move from here to there and it would move! Nothing would be impossible for them! Now plug in faith or “mustard seed faith” back into verse 31. The kingdom of heaven is like faith, which a man took and planted in his field. A man taking and planting a seed in his field involves action, right? I mean seeds don’t plant themselves. I think what this is saying, it that the Kingdom of Heaven looks like faith in action. Okay, lets take a look at the next verse. “Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch on its branches.” When your seed (faith) grows it becomes so large that the birds of the air come and perch. Birds of the air is a similar expression Jesus uses in Matthew 6:26-34. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what will you wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to this life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, What shall we eat or what shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” So basically the birds of the air do not live from a worldly perspective. They do not worry about clothes, food, or about storing away in barns. Their needs being met is not their priority. The Father’s got it taken care of.

So when we put it all together the parable about the mustard seed is saying that the Kingdom of Heaven looks like faith in action and believers who are not concerned about meeting their needs. They are living for today and relying on the Father to take care of them.

Now lets get to the yeast. “He told them still another parable. The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough (vs. 33). Now there are couple of theories to this parable. This parable could be eluding to the yeast being the”yeast of the Pharisees.” Mark 8:15 “Be careful, Jesus warned them. Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and for Herod.”  Matthew 16:6 “Be careful, “Jesus said to them. Be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Meaning their doctrine/unbelief/hypocrisy. Remember, they lived solely by earning their salvation through the law. Mixing a bit of works only (no faith) gospel until it was all though the dough (kingdom). Another theory is that the yeast is symbolic for the growth of the kingdom. I lean more towards the yeast of the Pharisee theory because all the other parables that are paired together are comparing two different types of things or people. So it makes more logical sense to me. You will see more of that type of comparing in my next blog.

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