Aug 26, 2018

Build Your Kingdom Here: Bible Study #2

The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast

Luke 13:18-21
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.”

KINGDOM OF GOD

Bible Study #1 taught “The Kingdom of God”.  It is not an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly one.  It is not ruled by anyone on this earth, but instead is ruled by Jesus.

When Jesus started talking about the Kingdom of God, people immediately envisioned an earthly kingdom.

Q:  If the Kingdom of God were an actual earthly Kingdom, what would it look like?

Most people in the United States do not understand much about kingdoms.  Americans live in a representative democracy.  However, people in other nations that that still have a King or Queen have a completely different understand about kingdoms.  For example, England has a Monarchy.  It is called the United Kingdom.

Q:  The following table describes citizenship in England and compares that with the kingdom of God.  How would you complete this table?


Britian Kingdom of God
Ruler? Queen of England
Location? Island of Great Britain
Rules? English Law
How to Build? Brick and Mortar
How to become Citizen? Immigration process or birth
Who enforces rules? Police Agencies
When will it end? Overthrow of House of Windsor


Jesus often taught with Parables.  By using parables, Jesus uses real world examples to depict difficult concepts. The challenge with parables, is that unless Jesus specifically discusses their deeper meaning, they can be open to a range of interpretations.  This makes the use of parables even broader.

 In the parable of the Mustard Seed, Jesus is specifically addressing the Kingdom of God.

Q:  What do you think is the basic meaning of the parable of the Mustard Seed?

Another way to study parables is to map the association between each of the main concepts of the parable and the theological concept.

Let’s look in detail at each of the components of the parable:

MUSTARD SEED

It isn’t clear as to why Jesus chose the mustard seed.  We do know that the mustard seed is very tiny.  The picture on the right shows a tiny mustard seed on someone’s finger.  Yet this tiny seed creates a plant or bush that grows to a height of up to 9 to 15 feet depending upon the variety.

One interpretation of the mustard seed is that it represents faith.  In Bible Study #1, Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is near.  Repent and Believe”.  There does appear to be a correlation between the Kingdom and Faith.

Q:  What do you think the mustard seed represents?

PLANTED IN GARDEN

Seeds can remain dormant for a long time.  In fact, the oldest documented dormant seed is 2,000 years old.  This seed remained dormant for 2,000 years and was planted. Once it was planted it began to grow.

Seeds must be planted before they can grow.

Q:  What do you think the garden represents?

GREW AND BECAME TREE

The life-cycle of a plant is amazing.  The seed is planted in the soil where it germinates. The water and soil create a chemical reaction breaking down the outside of the seed and this seemingly non-living seed begins to show life.  A preliminary root system is visible.  But in order to continue to grow, this sprout requires sunlight and so if breaks through the soil to receive light from the sun.

The sprout continues to grow until it becomes a full-grown tree. 

Tree growth is amazing.  The living growth is actually on the outside of the trunk.  Each year, this layer dies and a new layer begins again.  This new layer is an additional tree ring.  One can actually date a tree by counting the tree rings.

Even through older tree rings aren’t alive, they serve a very, very important purpose.  They add strength and stability to the tree.  That is why an old tree can withstand storms.

Q:  What does the tree represent, i.e, How does the Kingdom of God relate to the growth of a mustard seed into a tree?

BIRDS PERCHED

In the final part of the parable, Jesus says that birds perch in the tree.  Some people say the birds are actually bad in the parable.  Others say the birds find refuge in the tree.  Again, Jesus doesn’t always explain the parable.

Q:  What do you think the birds represent?

YEAST INTO THE DOUGH

After describing the parable of the mustard seed, Jesus gives another example about the kingdom.  He says that it is similar to yeast being kneaded into dough.  We know that when yeast is added to flour and shortening, fermentation takes place and the dough rises.  This turns the flour from a flat bread into a fluffier bread.  Unless you are allergic to gluten, this fluffier bread is much more satisfying to eat.  The yeast transforms the flour into something extra-ordinary.

Q:  What does the yeast represent?  Does this help explain the parable of the Mustard Seed?

THE STRUGGLE

In a perfect world, this mustard seed would grow into a lovely tree.  This lovely tree would be a blessing to the birds as yeast is a blessing to the flour.  However, sometimes this process falls short.

Rocky Soil:  Sometimes the seeds of faith fall on soil and the seed never germinates.  Q:  What are some of the reasons for rocky soil in people?

Weeds:  Sometimes the seed creates a plant, but weeds grow up around the plant.  Q:  What are some of the reasons weeds begin to grow?

Unhealthy growth:  Sometimes the seed is not nourished by sunlight, water, and nutrients.  Q: What are some of the things that faith needs to continue to grow into a strong, healthy plant?

CHALLENGE

This week, you will have interaction with people who are near the kingdom of God.  What things can you do to create better soil for the seed to be planted?  How can you help people eliminate weeds in their lives?  How can you help them find nutrients, sunlight, and water?

What can you do to eliminate weeds in your own life and find the nutrients, sunlight, and water so that you may continue to grow?