Summary: Learning all of this stuff is just a bunch of stuff if it doesn’t do something to us, change something about us and enrich those around us. If we do not bear the kind of fruit that makes people more aware of Jesus Christ just because we’re around, then a
The Kingdom Of Heaven Is Like… – Part 3
The Parables Of The Mustard Seed And The Leaven
Before we begin today, I would like once again to make sure that we are all clear about what a parable is and what the difference is between a parable and an allegory.
Let’s go over our definitions once more, just to make sure we are all understanding this the same way:
A parable places earthly truths side by side with the heavenly truths that are to be understood. The earthly truths employed describe the characteristics of the heavenly thing be taught. As we have said, the starting point of Christ’s parables is that there is a God-ordained and God-created continuity between the human and the divine. The strength of Christ’s parables lies in the very real connection imprinted by the Creator on His creation, the physical characterizing and demonstrating the higher spiritual and moral world.
An allegory, on the other hand, is figurative and symbolic, not descriptive. An allegory is a work in which the characters and events are to be understood as representing other things and symbolically express a deeper meaning, often spiritual or moral. In an allegory, the characters are usually personifications of abstract concepts such as greed, envy, courage and the like. An allegory is simply a word-picture, not a parallel explanation.
Okay, now that we are all on the same page once again, let’s read the first of the two parables that we are going to cover today. Both are found in Matthew 13. The first one, The Parable of the Mustard Seed, is found in Matthew 13:31-32. Let’s read that now, shall we?
Okay, so we have the kingdom of heaven once again being described by the Prince of Heaven, Jesus Christ. What is the kingdom of heaven again? The kingdom of heaven is the sure and steady advance of the rule and reign of Jesus Christ that began at His birth, grew through His life and ministry here on earth, was demonstrated by His power and authority over the forces of nature and the forces of darkness, was affirmed by God personally at Jesus’ baptism and on the Mount of Transfiguration, was made sure by Christ’s crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension, and will be fully consummated when He returns on the Day of Judgment.
When He teaches, “the kingdom of heaven is like…,” He is describing for us something that He knows personally, intimately and fully. He takes the things of His kingdom and uses everyday things of this world to show us what that kingdom is like. The parables are easy to understand for those who love Him simply and unpretentiously.
In our last two parables, we saw some of the characteristics of how the kingdom operates and how it is opposed. Today we are going to be given two descriptions of how the kingdom will grow until it is fully realized.
Once again, I have to be clear about the dangers of allegorizing a parable. We saw last time that the subtle twist of what the word-picture is describing can lead us down the path of believing and teaching falsehood. We must always keep in mind that teaching falsehood is teaching rebellion.
This is a point where I am in disagreement with many men who are considered more knowledgeable, more learned and more credible than I am. On the other hand, there are several men of that caliber who hold to the same interpretation that I do. You will have to prayerfully read and reread these passages on your own and decide for yourself which interpretation you will believe.
The Parable of the Mustard seed begins with a description; “The kingdom of heaven is like…” That phrase, “is like,” tells us that a simile – a picture, an illustration, a likeness, a reflection – is before us. So, when Jesus says that, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed,” how does He describe it? He says that the kingdom of heaven, just like the mustard seed (remember that a parable uses the characteristics of the earthly to describe the spiritual), begins as an infinitesimally small thing and grows to be the largest tree in the garden.
I am going to go through this parable and teach the straight, simple truth of it before we look at how it gets allegorized and distorts the message of what Jesus is trying to tell His disciples and us.
Jesus puts it this way, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES."