31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.32 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.”
33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds[a] of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
As we know, Jesus spoke to people in parables often times. Parables are a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson from scripture. Jesus used them because the average person couldn’t understand the mysteries of the word as well as they could with these parables.
Today, we want to take a look at the meaning of the short but significant parable of Jesus’ regarding the mustard seed and the yeast.
This was a time at the very beginning of the earthly ministry of Christ and His chosen disciples. The Lord was conducting a sort of “on the job training” of His selected 12 followers, preparing them with the knowledge they would need to spread the word of God.
This is part of the meaning at the beginning of the parable of the mustard seed. This seed, one of the smallest we had to plant represented the word of God. It was said to be small because not many had yet heard the word of God which Jesus and His disciples were going to teach.
But after the seed was planted, it would grow into the largest of plants in the garden, and even birds of the air would come and perch on its branches, (V.32). And so it would be with the word of God. By the efforts of the Lord, His disciples, and many converts along the way, the gospel message would spread across the entire known world!
It should be noted that the persecution of the church by the Roman Empire put the disciples on the run for their lives. Yet everywhere they went to escape their enemies, they taught the word of God.
This scattering of Christ followers also did wonders to help spread the word to the far reaches of the country, creating a great harvest of new believers!
And a very similar message is contained in the parable of the yeast. Usually, yeast was used in scripture as an example of evil or unclean living. But such is not the case in this parable. Told in conjunction with the mustard seed tale, the context of this yeast has a different meaning altogether.
It only takes a small amount of yeast in the dough to make it rise into a large loaf of bread. In this parable, the small portion of yeast represented the current size of the kingdom of God. But as the message of the gospel spread, (“mixed into a large amount of flour,” (V.33) ), the number of new followers would grow by leaps and bounds!
This was certainly some very good work by the early church! But the work didn’t end there. The same effort is to be put into spreading the word by Christians today. Sadly, this duty is not being pursued as zealously in many cases as it should be in the present age.
Sure there are laws in effect which may govern some of the things we can do and say today. But there are no laws against sharing stories about what Jesus has done for us in our own personal lives. Such accounts can be even more effective than throwing a lot of “scripture and verse” at people!
And just as with the parables Jesus used to teach, people can relate to personal experiences more often if we share the gospel in this way. Perhaps we should learn to answer or approach others in this way and then proceed with scripture if there is any interest.
The point is that we do something more than what many of us are doing to help grow the church in a world of increasing ungodliness. We need to continue to plant the “mustard seeds” and “work the yeast through the flour” to keep the growth of the gospel going.
If we are hesitant to speak up, consider the courage of the Savior and the disciples before us. Take note of the new converts and the way in which they couldn’t contain themselves with the experiences they had in the Lord. These are the examples we should be following.
This is our time to use the gifts we have to help the church continue to grow. Anything we do to contribute to this cause is appreciated by the Lord, so let us do even more to help spread the “good news” of Christ Jesus our Lord!
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