The twin parables of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven, found in Matthew 13:31-33, describe the nature of the Kingdom of God. What is the nature of the Kingdom?
1. The Nature of the Kingdom is Unassuming
The initial appearances of the kingdom seem small and insignificant, but result in something large and significant. The seed is the smallest. The small leaven can be hidden. But tiny seeds eventually become big trees and lumps of leaven can affect entire bushels of flour.
The kingdom has come without fanfare. It is unassuming and unimpressive in its initial appearance. This is a principle true throughout the Bible, where
• Babies in baskets deliver nations from slavery;
• Shepherd boys become kings;
• Farmers become prophets;
• Fishermen become apostles; and
• Carpenters become Savior of the world.
Jesus is teaching us not to be hypnotized by size or appearances. He challenges our assumptions about size. Size can never be the measure of assessing the things of God or the work of God’s kingdom.
The seed, though tiny, is still the kingdom of God, and the yeast, though small, is still the kingdom of God.
2. The Nature of the Kingdom is Organic
The kingdom is organic, like seed and soil. The seed goes into the soil and it grows and we don’t know how, yet it does. It’s the nature of the seed to grow and become. As the seed is to the soil, the good news of the Kingdom is to your life. The kingdom produces ultimate consequences out of proportion to its insignificant beginnings. This calls for patience, for neither the seed nor the leaven yield instantaneous results. It takes time for the seed to grow and the yeast to rise.
3. The Nature of the Kingdom is Consuming
These parables are not really about how small things become big. They are about how the seed becomes a tree that overtakes the garden, and how the yeast eventually permeates the entire bushel of flour. The Kingdom consumes our lives. It pushes aside and eventually takes over.
The personal struggle we face is that our nature wants to resist the take-over. (cf. Romans 7) As our flesh resists the take-over of the kingdom, we naturally want to make it a sin problem.
But the problem is not your sin (or your personality, attitude, circumstances, or environment for that matter). The problem is control. So if the problem is not our sin, the solution is not self-restraint. The solution is surrender. You become what you give yourself to, or who you give yourself to.
The kingdom, given time and space, will suffocate the junk in your life to the point that your will become increasingly and reflexively partners with God and his work. It will take over.