Jesus shares two analogies regarding the Kingdom of God. He uses leaven and a mustard seed for His comparisons. We have looked at these same analogies in Matthew and Mark’s gospels. I want to look at a few different ways these two common things can symbolically represent God’ Kingdom. I will remind you again that I am NOT an expert and there are probably many things that I haven’t come across or seen on my own that could be used in these analogies.
The first comparison I am going to mention is one that is brought up in my bible helps. It is also the one we focused on in the other two blog posts. That is the comparison of size ration from beginning to end. I’m going to touch briefly on this aspect and refer you back to the previous blogs (linked above) for more detail. The mustard seed was the smallest crop seed in the region where Jesus walked. The fact that this tiny seed could produce one of the biggest plants was an amazing concept. The same is true for God’s Kingdom. From one life comes eternal life for ALL who believe. Enormous potential!
The same holds true with the leaven. In comparison to the amounts of other ingredients used in the baking of bread, the leaven is the least. But with its addition the bread will MORE than double in size. The leaven is what causes the bread to “grow.”
The second comparison I want to talk about was also mentioned in my bible helps. This is the analogy of the growth process. The difference in size from start to finish is amazing on both fronts but it takes time, patience and care to reach the full potential of the mustard seed and the leaven. The mustard seed has to be prepared for planting after it is harvested. It has to be gathered, placed into prepared soil, watered, weeded, protected and tended throughout its growth. The seed contains the blueprint for the finished product, including future fruit. But in order to recognize that fruit it requires care. The same is true of leaven. Leaven is created through a careful process. The process involves careful measurements of the ingredients, providing a controlled environment, ensuring cleanliness of containers and ingredients, observing the growth cycles to know when to intervene and consistent measurements throughout the process.
God’s Kingdom requires care throughout its growth too. God Himself is responsible for the outcome and He protects His Kingdom from our accidental or intentional corruption. He provides us with the “care manual” in the form of His word. We are to read it and ask directions when we are unsure of its meaning. God started the process of setting down His instructions on the day He first made man. He has been perfecting and clarifying His instructions ever since. He has also watched and waited for just the right time to interject the next element in the process. Just like “feeding” the leaven or fertilizing the mustard, God interjected elements into His Kingdom growth. Jesus was the most crucial of these elements and God waited until the perfect time to introduce the world to His Son. There are still lesser elements to come before the final result, but we can be certain that God has each of those well in hand too.
The last comparison I want to look at is something that came to mind while I was reading these analogies. This is the concept that these items, the mustard seed and the leaven, were hidden. The mustard seed was “hidden in the earth” before it could start to grow. The farmer knew the seed was in the ground but he couldn’t see it in the beginning. He had to trust that the seed was doing what it was created to do. If he had dug it up in its earliest days he would have most likely killed it. He had to exercise patience and trust. The leaven, after being created, was also “hidden in three measures of flour” until all the flour contained some of it. The bread would never have been made if the baker simply watched the leaven. It had to be mixed so thoroughly that it was now invisible to the eye. The baker had to then be patient and trust that the leaven would do its job.
The Kingdom of God was hidden for a time. Jesus said on many occasions that God prevented the people from understanding so that there was time to complete the full process. Jesus used parables “so that they might be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven” (Mark 4:12). God had a secret process underway in the birth of His Kingdom. If all those listening had understood then Satan would have understood too and would not have acted according to God’s plan. “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known in which watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into”(Matt. 23:43). Satan would have been on the alert if he had known the plan. But God kept it hidden and therefore safe. He was patient and trusted in the process He set in motion.
Father God, thank You for including each of us in Your plan. Thank You that You entrust each of us with a job to do in the process of Your Kingdom’s growth. Thank You that the end result is SO much bigger than we can even imagine. I can hardly wait to see what Your finished product will look like! Thank You that YOU kept the details hidden. You know how hard it is for us to keep a secret, especially one this big. Thank You for showing us new things in old stories. I’m SURE we have not exhausted the meaning Jesus put in His words. I trust You will show us something new again if we encounter this story in John’s gospel. Keep me ever looking to You for new answers.