Luke 13:18-19 - Parable Of The Mustard Seed

Luke 13:18 (KJV)  Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God
like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?
Luke 13:19 (KJV)  It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a
man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great
tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.

From the smallest of seeds the Palestinian mustard plant grows
in one season to a shrub the size of a small tree. [Ryrie SB]

The tiny mustard seed would typically grow to a height of ten to
fifteen feet. [College Press NIV Commentary]

In the east mustard is not a garden herb but a field plant. It
does literally grow to be a tree. A height of seven or eight feet is
common, and a traveller tells how once he came across a mustard plant
which was twelve feet high, [Barclay Commentary]

The germ in the seed grows by the unfolding of the
life-principle which God has implanted. Its development depends upon no human
power. So it is with the kingdom of Christ. It is a new creation. Its
principles of development are the opposite of those that rule the kingdoms
of this world. Earthly governments prevail by physical force; they
maintain their dominion by war; but the founder of the new kingdom is the
Prince of Peace. COL76-9

So the work of grace in the heart is small in its beginning. A
word is spoken, a ray of light is shed into the soul, an influence is
exerted that is the beginning of the new life; and who can measure its
results? COL76-9

Our recovery also fits the analogies Jesus gave here. Like the
kingdom of God, recovery starts small, but eventually takes root and
grows into a place of prominence in our life. Or, like yeast, it works
its way into our beings as we work the program, until it permeates
every aspect of our lives. [Life Recovery Devotional SB]

The mustard plant was the largest that grew in Palestine. Its
tremendous growth in one season from the smallest of the seeds to a shrub
the size of a small tree illustrated prophetically the growth of the
kingdom from the insignificant beginnings of Jesus' company of disciples
into the spiritual realm which became universally recognized.
[Wycliffe Bible Commentary]

Here is the progress of the gospel foretold... Though its
beginning was small its latter end should greatly increase; so that many
should come, should come upon the wing, should fly like a cloud, to
lodge in the branches of it.. (Matthew Henry's Commentary)

As Jesus spoke this parable, the mustard plant could be seen far
and near, lifting itself above the grass and grain, and waving its
branches lightly in the air. Birds flitted from twig to twig, and sang
amid the leafy foliage. Yet the seed from which sprang this giant
plant was among the least of all seeds. At first it sent up a tender
shoot, but it was of strong vitality, and grew and flourished until it
reached its present great size. So the kingdom of Christ in its
beginning seemed humble and insignificant. Compared with earthly kingdoms
it appeared to be the least of all.... And in this last generation
the parable of the mustard seed is to reach a signal and triumphant
fulfillment. The little seed will become a tree. COL76-9

God's work has always seemed insignificant to human beings. But
it has dynamic power and exhibits vital, transforming growth in
lost people and corrupt societies. [Victor Bible Reader's Companion]

The details of Jesus' sayings are irrelevant to His point, which
is simply this: Jesus' kingdom appeared insignificant to many
onlookers. But ultimately Christ's kingdom will dominate all. [The 365-Day
Devotional Commentary]

The parables of the mustard seed and the yeast point to the tiny
beginnings and the remarkable results (13:18-21). [Cambridge Annotated SB]

The twin parables of the mustard seed and the yeast teach that
the kingdom's apparently small beginnings will indeed grow into the
worldwide kingdom of God. [College Press NIV Commentary]

The general expectation among Jesus' hearers was that the
Messiah would come as a great king and leader, freeing the nation from
Rome and restoring Israel's former glory. But Jesus said his kingdom
was beginning quietly. Like the tiny mustard seed that grows into an
enormous tree, or the spoonful of yeast that makes the bread dough double
in size, the kingdom of God would eventually push outward until the
whole world was changed. [Life Application SB]

Jesus then warns His listeners not to misunderstand God's
kingdom. Rather than coming in glory, it enters humbly and will become
glorious (vv. 18-21). Salvation will not come to the nation as a whole,
but to individuals who make personal, often difficult, decisions
(vv. 22-30). [Victor Bible Reader's Companion]

The parable of the leaven speaks of the inward growth of the
kingdom, while the parable of the mustard seed seems to point to the
external growth of the kingdom. [Jamieson, Fausset, And Brown

Whereas the parable of the mustard seed traces the progress of
the gospel in the world, the parable of the leaven shows the
progress of the kingdom in the heart and life of a believer. It speaks of
the transformation of life from a small beginning in grace and the
effect of the gospel on the total person. Some have maintained that the
New Testament references to leaven always symbolize evil, and
therefore the parable describes the church being infiltrated and pervaded
by corruption and false doctrine. The immediate context militates
against the view that leaven is always a symbol of evil. Jesus indeed
warned his disciples to "be on your guard against the yeast of the
Pharisees and Sadducees" (Mt 16.6). But he also used leaven to describe
the growth of his kingdom, as in the present instance. The effect of
the leaven may be understood in two ways: As a process in general
history, leaven speaks of the silent yet pervasive and irresistible
working of the gospel. But just as leaven changes bread dough in an
observable way, so the parable also portrays the real and radical
transformation of individual lives through the gospel. When anyone is joined to
Christ, he is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. 2
Corinthians 5.17 [Daily Devotional Bible]

The interpretations of these have been varied, and there has
been considerable controversy over them. It is well to remember that
usually each parable was spoken to make only one point, and that details
not necessary for the point should not be overstressed. [Wycliffe
Bible Commentary]