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Commentary » Matthew 13:31-Matthew 13:35 » Family-Times.net
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The Growth of Christendom

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Dr. R. E. Neighbor was in the baptismal pool with a railway engineer. The pastor was ready to proceed with the baptismal service. “Wait!” whispered the engineer; “I forgot something. I want to return to the robing room, and get my pocketbook and let you baptize it … More


The mustard seed symbolizes false growth (v. 31. It was the smallest garden seed known yet it produced a plant that grew to a height of twelve to fifteen feet in one season and the birds of the air would sit in its branches (v. 32). Jesus did not explain this parable but its meaning could represent “Christendom” which has become a worldwide power with many branches. It had a very humble beginning but grew rapidly into a large organization. Some interpreters say the birds lodging in the branches represent Satan’s followers at work. This could well be represented in the World and National council of churches today.

The leaven may symbolize false doctrine (v. 33). Throughout the Bible, leaven is a symbol of evil. In Bible times women in every household baked their own bread. Each time she baked she would save a small piece of leavened dough from a risen batch just before it was baked. When the next batch was mixed she took the saved piece from the previous batch and hid it in the new batch so it could ferment and make it rise. Sin is like leaven or yeast! It grows, it corrupts and it puffs up (I Cor. 5:2). The  nature of it is such that once the process of leavening begins, it is hard to stop. Satan never stops trying to introduce false doctrine and false living into the Church. That is the way modernism has spread throughout the various denominations of our day.

Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these (vv. 34-35). In fact He never spoke without using them which fulfilled the prophecy spoken by the prophet. This is why I think it is important to tell stories and use illustrations when preaching or teaching.


Allowing a little sin (leaven) in my life or home will affect all that I do. For instance just one person with an angry spirit can cause disharmony in our entire household. All sin needs to be dealt with.

Matthew 13:31-35 (English Standard Version)

He put another parable before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches." He told them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened." All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: "I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world."

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »

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