Kingdom Parable#3 -- Mustard and Yeast
|31 He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches." |
33 He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about [27 kilograms] of flour until it worked all through the dough." (Matthew13:31-33)
In these two parables today, Jesus does exactly this. The mustard seed is really tiny and, from that tiny seed, grows a substantial tree. Maybe Jesus was standing in the shade of just such a tree as he speaks. Perhaps as he walks into a nearby village he sees a woman making bread, possibly a baker baking bread for the whole village. For 27 kg of flour you would need about 2.7 kg of yeast, the ratio is about 1:100, about 1%.
In this world of bigger means better, Jesus' words come as something of a surprise. In the economy of the kingdom, smaller doesn't necessarily mean less effective. A tiny mustard seed grows into a great tree which in turn produces innumerable seeds which then grow into trees themselves. A tiny seed has an almost infinite number of trees inside it. A tiny bit of yeast works its way through the flour and causes the bread fill out and rise. Jesus tells these two parables in the context of a series of parables about the nature of the kingdom: the sower; the wheat and the weeds; the hidden treasure and the pearl and the net are all parables that occur in this chapter.
In a society that is becoming increasingly secularized, where faith doesn't seem to count for much anymore, where fewer and fewer people attend church and more and more people identify as atheists, we, as people of faith, wonder what the world is coming to. Our influence seems to be on the decline. To us Jesus says, "Do not worry. Although you might be small, you are not insignificant because, in the economy of the kingdom insignificant things can be amazingly effective; tiny things can have massive consequences. Take heart, people of the kingdom. Just because you're small doesn't mean that you don't count."
Peter Langerman is husband to Sally, father to Jaimee (and father-in-law to Tim), Natasha, Emma and Gabby, who loves to walk, cook, read, shout at the TV when the boks are playing and who serves the saints at Durbanville. (He is also the Moderator-Elect of the UPCSA)
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