From Matthew 13:31-33, the tone of this blog is encouragement for believers. To encourage believers by proclaiming the characteristics of the Kingdom of God.
Illustration of an ant farm.
TRUTH: Jesus knew exactly what His disciples where thinking. He knew they needed to make major transitions in their thinking. His audience loved the idea of the Kingdom, but when they were thinking of the word kingdom, they were thinking ‘give us a king.’ When the disciples thought of the coming king, they believed he would overthrow Caesar. However, the kingdom Jesus came to reveal was radically different from anything His disciples thought of.
Jesus taught the parable of the mustard seed as a reminder to us not to be discouraged by slow or small beginnings.
Twin parables but not identical.
The aorist tense is used to point to the fact that the action inaugurating the kingdom has already occurred. The Christological implications of the parable should not be ignored. It is in Jesus’ words and work that the kingdom had made its entrance.
“Hidden” is used to draw attention to the hiddenness of the kingdom.
Early Jewish Writing
1QH 14.14-16: “Their root will sprout like a flower of the field or ever to make a shoot grow in branches of the everlasting plantation so that it covers all the world with its shade.”
And other writings (noninspired)
Gos. Thom. 20: “…but when it falls to the earth which had been cultivated, it puts forth a great branch and becomes a shelter for the birds of heaven.”
In both writings they understood the branches and birds to be good things, not evil things.
I. The Kingdom of God is Extensive in its Growth. (Mustard Seed)
A. Small: In both Jewish and Greco-Roman world mustard seeds were proverbially known for their small size, even though other seeds, such as the orchid or cypress, were known to be smaller. Most identify this with the black mustard seed. The seed germinates within five days and grows quickly to a height of about ten feet and has large leaves, especially at its base. Mark is more precise in referring to the plant as a vegetable (lachamon); it does not really become a tree. However, Matthew records the use of hyperbole.
B. Successful: Just as the seed is successful in its growth, and just as effective as the leaven is the permeate the hole lump of dough so the kingdom grows successfully.
D. Secretly: But yet, it does so secretly. It is a kingdom not of this world. The Lord gives us a glimpse now and again.
II. The Kingdom of God is Intensive in its Transformation. (Leaven)
In the OT yeast or leaven is used both positively and negatively. However, the yeast should be interpreted positive as it produces something positive.
A. Surprises: When the Holy Spirit applies the gospel, there is no limit to what can happen. These things are happening even when we don’t see the change.
B. Strong: It is a foreign element that is introduced into the flour for baking process in order to bring about dramatic transformation. It is not enough simply to put yeast into flour and wait for something to happen. The yeast has to be applied. This application is called kneeding and is a process whereby the dough is pressed and stretched, ensuring that the yeast touches every part. The purpose is not to destroy the flour. Instead, it comes into the flour and changes everything.
III. The Kingdom of God is Pervasive in its Outcome.
Luke placement has no obvious explanation other than to provide an interpretation to the story of the woman bound by Satan. The Kingdom is present and powerful.
The kingdom of God will eventually attain significant proportions despite its entirely inauspicious outset.
TAKE-AWAY: what is true of the kingdom is true of your life as well.
1. Your faith spreads: The Holy Spirit works in us.
2. Your faith is strong: Just as a small amount of yeast affects a very large batch of dough. In the same way the least measure of faith accomplished God’s purpose.
3. Your faith is secret: You can’t always see what is happening when the yeast goes to work. You put dough into a dark place or into a airing cupboard, and you don’t see what is happening. Its effect is seen at the end of the day. So you may ask yourself, is God really doing anything in me? Is anything happening? Paul would say yes. “we who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness.
4. Your faith is savory: We are to God the aroma of Christ among those being saved…. There is nothing more wonderful; than the smell of yeast in flour.
TIE-UP: Yes, we are like an army of ants. Helping, caring, soul-winning, discipling, but most of what is being done through us and through the church is unseen, but will be manifest one day.