A recipe for the Kingdom: Mustard and yeast (Luke 13:18-21)
Luke 13:18 Just like the other parables we looked at, Jesus is trying to help His disciples and the people of the day understand what the Kingdom of God is.
- When the disciples and the people of the day would think about the concept of Kingdom, they were thinking of the days of Samuel when Israel had said “Give us a king. We want to be like other nations.” (1 Samuel 8:5)
- They were also thinking of the Great Kingdom of David.
- When Israel was one of the strongest nations on earth.
- They were thinking in earthly terms and they were thinking in terms of a great king or leader and a powerful military, also something quick and swift.
Verse 19 “The mustard seed was used proverbially in Judaism of something very small. It normally grows to a bush of about four feet, but can reach ten feet or more.”
- There are two main points in the parable. One is the small to large growth, from seed to mature bush. In other words, don’t despise small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10) or don’t overlook small beginnings.
- The second point is the final product, which is shade or shelter.
- In relation to the seed Jesus is saying the kingdom will start out small but grow sure and steadily like a plant. This is in contrast to the kind of kingdom that the Jews were looking for.
- The second idea of providing shelter seems to be the major point of the parable but is is still not fully understood.
- The idea of birds being able to build nests in the mustard bush may be a reference to the Gentiles being incorporated into the people of God. There are several OT passages that scholars point to on this but if this is the point that Jesus is making it is subtle.
- The image of a mustard plant was not the usual image for the kingdom of God that was usually the Cedar tree, or the cedars of Lebanon.
- So, Jesus is making the point that the kingdom comes in a surprising form, not the one anticipated. But the surprising humble form of the kingdom’s coming should not surprise anyone.”
- Jesus says that the kingdom comes now but in an unexpected way and will gradually assume the grand scale they were expecting.
- You really get the sense that if you are not careful you will miss the start of the kingdom and you could certainly miss it growing.
Verse 20 Jesus asks a second question similar to the first, looking to help people understand the Kingdom.
Verse 21 There is some debate as to the actual amount of flour this represents but it is somewhere between 25 and 50 pounds of flour. This is a fairly large amount of flour, to show the power of both yeast and the Kingdom.
- This Could have been flour or Barley.
- “The point here is that the kingdom will eventually permeate the world.”
- Once you put the yeast in the dough there is no way to stop its action and affect upon the dough. It’s the same way with the Kingdom. Once Jesus dies on the cross there was no way to stop the advancement of the Kingdom.