Summary: Good things come in small packages. In the same way, our faith must begin small. No one begins with great faith but grows in faith as we progress toward Christ and in His kingdom.


Text: Matthew 13:31-33

Scripture reading: Luke 13:18-21


1. The largest man in the world starts out as a small baby.

a. The largest redwood trees in the world start out in a small seed.

b. The biggest ships on the sea start out as pencil lead being placed on a thin layer of paper.

c. The tallest of buildings are begun from a single spade of dirt.

d. All the greatest things known to man begin from the smallest of seeds.

2. From the smallest of beginnings come the greatest in life.

3. Even as I begin this lesson I am reminded of the words of William Punshon who said, "There are no trifles on the moral universe of God. Speak to me a word today; and it shall go ringing through the ages."

4. Small things make a big impact.

5. Today’s lesson will focus on how those small things will make that impact and the impact that those small things make.

6. We will examine two parables spoken by Jesus in consecutive order:

a. The parable of the mustard seed

b. And the parable of the leaven

7. These two parables discuss how something small can make a big difference.

8. We will look at them in this way:

a. First we will examine the parable in the light of the historic significance.

b. Next we will see the negative implications of the meaning of the parables.

c. Then we will see the positive implications of the meaning of the parables.

9. It is the aim of this lesson to help us all find ways to grow and to show us that we are influencing the lives of others.

TRANSITION: So what are these parables talking about?

I. The meaning of the parables.

A. We will begin with the parable of the mustard seed.

1. We discussed this some in the last lesson.

2. The mustard seed is the smallest seed that the gardener will plant.

a. There is not a seed smaller than the mustard seed (that would have been planted in first-century Palestine)

b. All the other seeds in the garden would be larger than the mustard.

3. Yet it grew into the largest plant in the garden.

a. It would be considered a tree.

b. The mustard plant would become large enough that it would have branches.

c. These branches would be large enough that birds could come and nest in them and take rest from their flight.

d. They grew to be around 10’ tall according to the literature I found.

4. From the smallest seed came the largest of plants.

5. Remember the 100 fold growth from the parable of the sower and the soil?

a. This individual growth is representative of the growth.

b. From the smallest to the largest.

c. It also represents growth of the church if you consider that all the birds can come and find rest in those branches.

d. You are helping others grow higher and get stronger and better.

B. Now let us look at the meaning of the leaven.

1. Leaven was not what it is today.

a. Today cooks can just reach up in the cupboard and get a package of yeast out to leaven their bread.

b. The women who cooked in those days did not have packs of yeast in a cupboard.

c. They used a leftover lump of dough from the last bread batch.

d. They mixed that into the new dough to leaven it.

2. The idea here is that a small handful of leaven works through a large amount of dough.

a. It is said that she measures out three measures or pecks of flour used to make her bread.

b. This is from a word that means about 13 liters.

c. The entire mixture would be around a bushel basket of dough.

d. About a handful of leftover leavened bread is mixed into this new batch and the whole thing is leavened.

e. I Corinthians 5:6, "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?"

f. A small amount of influence goes a long way.

C. In each of these parables Jesus uses imagery with which the listeners would be familiar.

1. They would have seen women mixing dough.

a. Three measures was the common amount used.

b. The usual practice was to save a lump back in order to leaven the next lump of dough.

c. These were things the listeners knew.

2. They would have seen these mustard trees growing.

a. The mustard plant, due to its particular characteristics, would not have been in the garden with the rest of the plants grown.

b. The small size of the seed would have made its planting along with the other plants difficult.

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