Summary: We come full circle with the parables of Jesus. As we close this series, we are reminded the God’s Kingdom work starts small and seemingly insignificant but through God’s work becomes greater than we can imagine.
The Parables of Jesus
The Mustard Seed and The Yeast
September 20, 2009
This week we will return to Matthew and look at two small parables that are connected together but give us two varying perspectives of the kingdom. These are the parables of the mustard seed and yeast. If you remember when we began, we examined the parable of the seed and sower where we uncovered why Jesus used parables (because he was speaking prophetically to challenge people and to put the kingdom challenge in the simplest terms possible). We also saw that while some outright reject the kingdom others respond to the kingdom favorably but do not stick with it. However, a few have deep, rich soil that allows the kingdom of God to take root. Jesus challenges us to be the kind of soil that allows the principles of the kingdom to flourish.
We come back to these little parables because we needed to see some other aspects of the kingdom (for example that the kingdom is presenting working in the midst of an evil world that has not yet be destroyed but will ultimately be completed some day in the future when Jesus comes). With these two little parables we have both the present kingdom and the future kingdom depicted. We have the seemingly insignificance of the kingdom and the obscure beginnings that have all-consuming consequences. Speaking of insignificance…
The story goes that the animals at the National Zoo all got together to play a football. Each animal played the position that was geared to the way it was designed. Since the giraffe had a tall neck to see well, it was the quarterback for the one side. But the defense for the other team was tough with elephants and gorillas. The first team advanced the ball gaining a first down at the fifty but was stopped and had to punt. A zebra came who kicked the ball into the end zone where it was received by a huge grey rhino. The ball stuck on it’s horn and it ran straight ahead. The gazelles and the lions and chimps and the pandas all tried to tackle the rhino but he kept those legs churning straight ahead to a touchdown.
And that is how it went the entire first half. No matter what the first team threw at the rhino, they couldn’t bring it down. At half time they went into the locker room demoralized losing 56 to nothing. Unfortunately, they had no answers but to keep trying. Since they received the ball at the opening half, they had to kick off at the start of the second. Boom! They ball sailed down the field caught by you know who, the rhino. Straight ahead he plowed through every animal. At the twenty and then the ten and at the five yard line, all of a sudden the rhino flipped upside down and landed with a crash.
“Who did that?” the animals called to one another. The lion said, “Not me.” The zebra said, “Not me!” Everyone denied it and was quiet for moment, when a little voice said, “It was me. I did it!”
“Who said that?” asked the chimp looking around.
“Me who? Where are you?”
“Down here,” said the voice. They looked very carefully and saw a little tiny centipede.
“You mean to tell me that you took down the rhino all by yourself?”
“Yeah, it was me. No problem! It was easy.”
“And you can do it again?”
“Yeah, sure. Any time. He’ll never see it coming.”
“Well where were you in the first half when we were getting killed?”
“Where do you think? I was putting on my shoes.” Ok, let’s read.
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 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."
He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."
Two short parables the Jesus uses to describe the kingdom of God. The first analogy is that the kingdom is like a mustard seed. A mustard seed is a minuscule seed. Yet when it grows and flourishes, becomes a huge plant that if left in a garden untended could take over a small garden.
Yeast is even smaller. Yeast causes the bread to rise. Usually the women in the community came together once or twice a week make bread dough for the week. One did not go to the store and buy a package of Fleischmann’s yeast. Instead, they would cut off a hunk of dough to be saved for the next time bread dough was made. That piece of dough would be worked into the fresh batch supplying the yeast for it to rise. So what is Jesus trying to tell us about the kingdom?