Parables of Jesus (Mustard Seed & Yeast)

Continuing our journey through the parables of Jesus, we have come to a set of seven parables all about the kingdom of heaven. We have discussed the parable of the sower and the parable of the weeds. We will now discuss two parables that are similar in theme and come right after one another in the gospel according to Matthew and Luke. They are the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the yeast. Let us begin. 

We will start with the parable of the mustard seed. Matthew 13:31-32 says, 

“He told them 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 seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

Again, Jesus compares a mustard seed to what the kingdom of heaven is like. Jesus says it is like a mustard seed that grows to be the largest of all the plants in the garden and it becomes so big that even birds can come and perch on it. This can seem odd at first but it actually makes perfect sense when put into context. 

The mustard seed was the smallest seed known at this point in time in this part of the world. A man takes this tiny seed, plants it, and it becomes the largest plant in the garden. It becomes a tree that birds can sit on its branches. So what does this have to do with the kingdom? Well, what Jesus is saying is that though the kingdom of God seems small right now because it is only starting in and around Jerusalem, it will grow to become the largest kingdom. It will grow so large that people from all nations will be able to find rest in the kingdom. Though it is small now, it will grow. 

The following parable of the yeast follows a similar theme. Matthew 13:33 says, 

“He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” 

Here we have a woman that takes some yeast and mixes it into some flour until it has been thoroughly mixed into all the dough. There is a lot of significance with this parable. 

Yeast usually represents evil or uncleanness in the Bible, but here it means something different. In this parable, the yeast represents growth throughout the world just as the last parable described with a seed. It could also be interpreted as growth in a person’s own life. The point of this parable is to show that the kingdom of heaven will grow and it will spread throughout the entire world. The kingdom of God is constantly spreading throughout the world and continuing to work in our lives as well. 

These are two beautiful parables about the arrival, growth, and spreading of the kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is here through Jesus and these parables are announcing this proclamation. The kingdom of God does not stand still, it is spreading and it is always growing. Jesus used these parables to help us understand the nature of the kingdom and he will continue to do so in the next couple of parables.      

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