Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.’
Another parable spake He unto them; ‘The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.’” Matthew 13:31-33 (KJB)
These two parables if you will notice are placed between the parable of the wheat and the tares, and the explanation of the wheat and the tares. This was intentional so that we might see His intent of the two parables. He is warning us of the deception of the enemy. We all like to see growth in our churches. Hopefully we mean by growth – people being called to Christ through faith in the shed blood of Jesus’s death, His burial, and resurrection. Too many times churches have crowds, members, and numbers, but no salvations. “But Oh, we had a great crowd. There was excitement in the air.” something along this line said, and everybody is feeling great; but is Jesus truly praised, worshiped, and glorified?
I. The growth of the mustard seed in this parable would normally be to become the bush of an herb.
* + It, however, becomes like an “Oak tree”.
* + How is it that the power, popularity, and prestige of Christianity has increased in past years?
II. The devil likes nothing better than for the church and the kingdom to have an unholy, ungodly, supernatural growth.
* + We are accepting people into congregations that call themselves Christian, but they have had no personal experience with Jesus.
* + They are still in their sins, unforgiven, unredeemed.
* + They have not been regenerated by the power of the Spirit of God, they have not been justified, there is no sanctification, and until they have these things they certainly will not be glorified in the presence of Jesus.
III. The Psalmist wrote in the song, “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1).
* + Rather than relying on “fire under the altar” (1 Kings 18:23, 25) why can the church not depend on the fire of God?
* +We depend too much on the methods of the flesh.
* + May God forgive us, and may we get on our knees, rebuild our altars and seek the power and the face of God.
IV. Leaven, in every case in Scripture, Old and New Testaments, is seen as a symbol of evil.
* + There is not one instance where it is seen as a symbol of a good growth of puffiness.
* + Some have taken Leviticus 23:17, and taught that this is a picture of the leaven being good.
* + The woman represents false religion; she could even be represented by Jezebel who was the wife and queen of Ahab.
V. Jesus told His disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”
* + Jesus was referring to their legalism and false doctrine that had bound them in their sins and iniquities.
* + Paul the apostle warns of the dangers of letting iniquity/sin stay and permeate a congregation in 1 Corinthians 5:6-7
“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us”.
VI. The kingdom of heaven grows in every individual who knows, who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
* + Yet, numerically, it can grow in pretense and hypocrisy.
* + False doctrine destroys unity, while those who teach false doctrine talk of uniformity – you give up the truth and we will have unity – and accuse those who stand for truth as the ones who cause disunity.