February 14, 2022 – Monday
Luke 13:18-21 NIV
18 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 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 about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
Confession time, this is part of what I taught on this past Sunday, February 13th You may find it here. These four verses follow Jesus rebuking those criticizing Him for healing a woman on the Sabbath. It went like, 14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” 15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.
Then in many Bible versions, something odd happens. For instance, in my NIV as in many others, before I get to verse 18 there is an insert that reads The Parables of The Mustard Seed and the Yeast. Some say Growth of God’s Kingdom, others simply The Mustard Seed and The Leavon, another On the Kingdom of God, while yet others have nothing at all, simply a space between verse.
Many have taught our verses for the day describe the growth and the worldwide spread of the church and it’s influence. Some point to the battle won by Constantine in 328 AD after he saw a vision of a cross in the sky with the words In this Sign Conquer. After he became emperor of the Roman Empire he imposed Christianity as THE religion of the empire. It was not a good thing.
Going back to the verses and their context – the context of Jesus rebuking those in the synagogue who believed healing on the Sabbath was wrong, even sinful. I believe He was still rebuking them when He said a mustard seed had grown into a tree housing birds. Everyone knew mustard seeds did not grow into trees and only a very few varieties grew as tall as 15 feet, but still too flimsy to house birds. So, any mustard seed that grew into a tree was abnormal, not natural and every would also know birds were often thought of as evil when spoken of generically in scripture. Such an image would include a synagogue, supposedly part of God’s kingdom throughout Israel housing those who thought it evil to do good on the Sabbath such as healing a woman who had suffered for 18 years.
Next, let’s look at the yeast or leaven. Any bread used for holy purposes never had yeast in it. And the idea of putting it in by hiding the action (as in many Bible versions) would be looked upon as evil in and of itself. Again, if Jesus is looking at those He was rebuking when He said this what could He mean? Were the leaders of the synagogues so intent on following Pharisaical rules that they inflated them beyond what God could do in the very same synagogue.
I believe in both instances; Jesus was continuing His rebuke of those who sought to condemn His healing of the woman who had suffered for 18 years. I encourage you to go the chapter and read for yourself and ignoring any headings see what explanation fits best. We can disagree.
Prayer: Father God, Let me never condemn the works done by You or Jesus no matter the time or the place. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Riley D. Driver – Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton