Often called "kingdom parables," the mustard seed and leaven parables showed how the kingdom of God would grow. They can be found in Luke 13:18-21, and in Matthew 13:31-33.
- Luke 13:4-5
- Luke 13:17
- Luke 13:29
Luke 13 Outline
Repent or perish
Fate of sinners
Parable of the unfruitful fig tree
Sabbath healing controversy
Jesus heals woman bound by evil spirit
Synagogue official objects, and is rebuked
Parables about kingdom growth
Parable of the mustard seed
Parable of hidden leaven
Preaching in villages on journey toward Jerusalem
Enter by the narrow gate
Many will recline in the kingdom of God
Pharisees warn Jesus about Herod
Jesus calls Herod a fox
Jesus reveals his grief over Jerusalem
Parable of the Mustard Seed
The Lord used the mustard seed as a symbol of smallness. Jesus related it to faith (Matthew 17:20), and also used it in this parable.
The white and black mustard seeds from the Mediterranean region are 1mm in diameter. They rapidly germinate; sprouting almost immediately after they are planted in the fall. They flower in the spring, and can grow to a height of up to 10 feet (3 meters) by the end of summer. As the stems of the plant dry in late summer, the plant takes on a tree-like appearance.
The parable of the mustard seed illustrated the growth of God’s kingdom. It originated with Jesus, and rapidly grew in Jerusalem to over 8,000 converts (Acts 2:41-42, 4:4). It spread through the Roman Empire (Acts 9:31, 21:20). The Lord knew that his witness would grow “even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Jesus predicted the rapid spread of Christianity.
Parable of the Leaven
This parable depicted the pervasive growth of God’s kingdom. As Christianity spread, it influenced society and the hearts of men.
Leaven was a remnant of fermented dough, much like the sourdough starter used in Amish friendship bread. Once added to bread dough, leaven permeated and caused the bread to rise.
The kingdom of God is like leaven. When hidden in a believer's heart, Christianity becomes life changing. It has a positive influence on an individual's life, on those who come into contact with the Christian, and on society at large.