What is the Meaning of the Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32)?

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The parables of the mustard seed and the leaven I really see them as one unit, and I have preached it that way whenever I have handled this text. The reason why is because what is so classic about parables are that they are earthly illustrations that convey primarily one spiritual truth. Obviously in this case you have the mustard seed, which was the smallest of seeds at that time, and then you have the leaven (which we are all familiar with that). And even though there are two metaphors being used here they are conveying one truth; namely, that little things that God begins have large endings.

For example, 2,000 years ago God began His kingdom with eleven frightened men before the day of Pentecost. Strike the shepherd the sheep scatter. Here we are eight time zones away and two-thousand years later talking about a rabbi who lived many years ago. Why? Because he has changed our lives. The kingdom is advancing. If you have a book called Operation World, which I have access to, it shows you how far Christianity reaches all around the world. It began with 11 frightened men (a small seed) and has expanded and continues to take real-estate even as we speak.

I was encouraged recently when I received some information on our world’s population and internet usage. There are 7 billion people now on the earth and 2.26 billion have internet access. Many of those people are in Asia, amazingly. The reach of the gospel through the internet, through radio, through print, electronic media is overwhelming. The gospel is advancing even as we speak.

In the leaven, or the yeast, section of verse 33 again reminds me of what Paul said in verse 1 Corinthians 5. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. So, we have to view the kingdom of God as the king being born (Jesus) and the king preaching the kingdom. John the Baptist preached the kingdom, Paul preached the kingdom, and we are called to preach the kingdom. What is the kingdom? It is the rule of God through the gospel, that is the kingdom. Some people debate whether there is a future kingdom. One thing I know is this the king has come he has preached the kingdom, I have been born again and I have entered the kingdom (John 3), and I call men to be translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. The other issues are intramural debate which we can have a good time debating.

Little beginnings, large ending, a little leaven. I am optimistic about the future of God’s kingdom. We are to walk by faith not by sight. Christ is building His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against them.

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