Luke 13:18-21 - The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast.

Luke 13:18-21 - The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast.

Luke 13:18-21 (NKJV) Then He said, "What is the kingdom of God 
like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed, 
which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large 
tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches." 20 And again 
He said, "To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? 21 It is like 
leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was 
all leavened."  

Luke 13:18-21 (NIV) Then Jesus asked, "What is the kingdom of 
God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, 
which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, 
and the birds of the air perched in its branches." 20 Again he 
asked, "What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21 It is like yeast 
that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it 
worked all through the dough."  

Luke 13:18-21 (NLT) Then Jesus said, "What is the Kingdom of God 
like? How can I illustrate it? 19 It is like a tiny mustard seed that 
a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the 
birds make nests in its branches." 20 He also asked, "What else is the 
Kingdom of God like? 21 It is like the yeast a woman used in making 
bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of 
flour, it permeated every part of the dough."  

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

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

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 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] 

  At his trial, Jesus told Pilate, "My Kingdom is not an earthly 
kingdom" (John 18:36, May 30). When Jesus talked about the Kingdom of 
God, he was describing a spiritual Kingdom that would begin in the 
hearts of his followers and continue for all eternity in heaven. Before 
he returned to heaven, Jesus left the Holy Spirit to live in the 
hearts of his followers and give us a glimpse of God's Kingdom here and 
  In these verses, Jesus compared his Kingdom to a small mustard 
seed that grows into a large plant. His Kingdom starts out small 
(just a few followers), but will continue to grow until it covers the 
world and provides shelter and peace for many. Jesus also compared the 
Kingdom to yeast. Although the amount of yeast is small in proportion to 
the flour, the yeast permeates every part of the dough. Likewise, 
the Kingdom of God will affect everything it touches. [The One Year 
Bible for New Believers re Luke 13:18-21] 

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] 

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 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 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] 

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] 

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 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? COL76-79  

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] 

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) 

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] 

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] 

Although Jesus uses the idea of a tiny mustard seed as a 
metaphor for faith, He also uses this word picture to explain the kingdom 
of God. His followers may have wondered if Jesus' influence would 
ever grow beyond the small circle of His disciples. But the Messiah 
promised that God's holy nation will continue to grow until it reaches 
full maturity. [The 365 Daily Promise Bible By Barbour re Luke 13:18, 

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