Summary: The parables of the mustard seed and the leaven teach us about the growth of the kingdom of God.
Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem from Galilee. He only has a few months left to live. Jesus knows that he is going to Jerusalem to pay the penalty for people’s sin by his death. He will sacrifice his life in order to reconcile sinners with a holy God.
Luke 12-13 alternates between notes of judgment and hope. Jesus offers people a way to connect with God, but it is not the same way that is offered by the professional clergy of his day. Throughout his short ministry Jesus has been teaching people about the kingdom of God. Basically, the kingdom of God has to do with the rule and reign of God in a person’s life. People enter the kingdom of God through faith and repentance.
In today’s lesson Jesus teaches two parables about the kingdom of God. Jesus wants people to understand how God’s kingdom grows.
Let’s read about Jesus’ parables of the mustard seed and the leaven in Luke 13:18-21:
18 He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”
20 And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.” (Luke 13:18-21)
Kyle MacDonald was stuck in a dead-end job and he was strapped for money. So he came up with an improbable plan: starting with one red paperclip, he would trade on the Internet until he exchanged it for a house.
First, he traded the red paperclip for a fish-shaped pen. Next, he traded the pen for a doorknob. He traded the doorknob for a Coleman stove. He traded the Coleman stove for an electric generator. He traded the electric generator for a Budweiser sign and a keg of beer, which he then traded for a snowmobile. Exactly one year and only 14 trades later, MacDonald finally reached his goal: he exchanged a part in a Hollywood movie for a home in Saskatchewan, Canada.
The true story of Kyle MacDonald is told in his book One Red Paperclip. Now apparently the book is being made into a movie. Fame, fortune, a book, a movie deal, and a home – it all began with one red paperclip.
Sounds incredible, doesn’t it? And yet Jesus teaches that the growth of the kingdom of God will be even more incredible.
When we look at the growth of Christianity in the world today we may be tempted to become discouraged. In fact, when we look at our own spiritual growth we may also be tempted to become discouraged. Nevertheless, we must always examine our experience of the world, the church, and ourselves in light of God’s Word. And when we do so, we shall be encouraged.
The analysis of the kingdom of God as set forth in Luke 13:18-21 teaches us about the growth of the kingdom of God.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. The Parable of the Mustard Seed Illustrates the External Growth of the Kingdom of God (13:18-19)
2. The Parable of the Leaven Illustrates the Internal Growth of the Kingdom of God (13:20-21)
I. The Parable of the Mustard Seed Illustrates the External Growth of the Kingdom of God (13:18-19)
First, the parable of the mustard seed illustrates the external growth of the kingdom of God.
Jesus said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it?” (13:18).
The word “therefore” is important. As someone has once said, “When we see the word ‘therefore’ in the Bible, we should always ask what it is there for.” The word “therefore” is making a connection with the previous pericope. In the previous section Jesus healed a woman with a disabling spirit. Presumably Jesus continued teaching in the synagogue after healing the woman and, as Darrell Bock says, the word “[therefore] illustrates the implications to be derived from the healing of the woman.” The healing of the woman was something small. And yet that healing was the beginning of something much bigger. The woman’s healing illustrated the ultimate defeat of the kingdom of Satan and the ultimate victory of the kingdom of God. This one healing miracle, David Gooding says, “would one day spread to the bounds of the universe, until creation herself would be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, and all in heaven and earth would find security, satisfaction and delight in the magnificence of his dominion.”
And so Jesus followed his miraculous healing of the woman with a disabling spirit with a question, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it?” (13:18).