Bible Society of South Africa

Unbelievable growth – 8 September 2022

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

31Jesus told them another parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man takes a mustard seed and sows it in his field.

Matthew 13:31GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Parable of the Yeast

33Jesus told them still another parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A woman takes some yeast and mixes it with forty litres of flour until the whole batch of dough rises.”

Matthew 13:33GNBOpen in Bible reader

In Matthew 13, Jesus uses a few parables to help us understand the nature of the kingdom of heaven. Every parable put a different emphasis on the kingdom. The two that we are going to group together today is aimed at letting us understand how the kingdom came about from a small beginning, kept growing and leavened the whole world.

The metaphor of the mustard seed can also be found in Matthew 17:20. In both parables, we see a small beginning with a very big outcome. From a very small seed, the mustard plant starts growing into a tree of about four metres and, as such, becomes a home and shelter to many birds. The kingdom of heaven also started very small with the birth of a little baby in Bethlehem, but it kept growing to where it is now, found all over the world and it is a home and shelter to all believers. Jesus’ reference to the birds that nested in the branches is not just an aside remark. In the Old Testament, for example in Ezekiel 17:23, the tree is seen as a symbol of a place where God provides shelter. In the kingdom of God, there is a lot of space for building your nest.

I still remember how it fascinated me as a child that the little bit of yeast, which my mother worked into the big tub of flour, could have such a dramatic effect. When you got up the next morning, the dough would have raised to the height of the tub. That little bit of yeast leavened the whole lot of flour and made it possible to bake several loaves of bread. Silent and unnoticed, like yeast, the message of Jesus, his passion, resurrection and ascension is spreading throughout the whole world, and his church raises up to provide food for hungry souls. The kingdom grows and permeates every aspect of life into the farthest corners of the world.

Prayer: We pray that you will use us to be like yeast that leavens the whole world with the gospel of salvation. Amen

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