BOGO. Everyone likes a great deal. Although we may view Jesus’ parables as individual teachings, at least once in Scripture our Savior taught two adjacent parables with complementary messages.
Luke 13 records the parables of The Mustard Seed and The Yeast. Although separate in content, the two dovetail nicely to illustrate truths about the kingdom of God.
“Then Jesus asked, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 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’” (Luke 13:18-19).
Jesus wanted his hearers to picture outward growth. A small mustard seed was planted and grew into a tree capable of supporting birds. It visibly grew over time. The same may be said of the Church. It, too, had humble beginnings. Yet, over time, the Lord blessed it through his Word to grow into the most enduring institution of human history.
“Again he asked, ‘What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough’” (v. 20-21).
One may almost picture Jesus transitioning to his next parable. Again, using a common item—yeast—he illustrates a different type of growth in the Church—inner growth. He notes that “it worked all through the dough.” Although yeast’s outward effect is observable, it works inwardly through the dough, causing it to rise.
God’s Word causes outward growth in the Church as those who hear it believe and come to faith by the Spirit. At the same time, it creates inner growth as believers hear God’s Word, growing stronger in faith as individuals and congregations. Growth in the Church may not always be measurable. Yet, it happens because our Lord promises us that “my word … will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
“What is the kingdom of God like?” Although the Church may be compared to many things, it is the living body of believers that grows through “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
Lord, help us to grow in and through your Word. Amen.
Jim Grasby is principal of Lakeside Lutheran High. Reach him at 920.648.2321