Bible verses to build your life on

Jesus said: “… whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock…” ~ Matthew 7:24


Part 5


verses 31-35:

Parable of the Mustard Seed

(Mark 4:30–32; Luke 13:18, 19)

31Another parable He put forth to them, saying: ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.


Parable of the Leaven

(Luke 13:20, 21)

33Another parable He spoke to them: ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.34All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, 35that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.


*                  Sandwiched between Jesus telling the ‘Parable of the Wheat and Tares’ to the multitudes and His explaining of it to His group of disciples, are two brief parables - ‘Parable of the Mustard Seed’ and the ‘Parable of the Leaven’. These are two unique parables and curious parables, because on the surface, they are a little hard to understand.


*                  The ‘Parable of the Mustard Seed’ – This is a unique parable, because its details have fascinating insights and warnings for us. The basic idea of this parable is that even if we have a small amount of faith in the call to follow Jesus Christ (that leads to repentance) and to accept that He paid our fine/penalty for us(that we earned for breaking His law – Romans 6:23), then that faith in us will grow to be a tree similar to that described in Psalm 1:3 – “3He shall be like a tree, planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” – a reliable, faithful follower of Christ. From what I’ve studied and heard, that is a pretty fair explanation/application in the context of individual followers of Christ. (Pastor John MacArthur explains this theme in many of Jesus’ parables.) This parable also gives an interesting picture when thought of as describing the body of Christ as a whole. Chuck Missler points out that the particular mustard plant mentioned here – the wild mustard seed in Israel, generally grow to be a plant about 2-3’ in height. That sounds fine, until we notice that Jesus mentions that the the plant becomes big enough for the birds of the air to nest in its branches. Curious, when was the last time you saw a bird build a nest in the branches of a bush about 2’ or 3’ off the ground? A few times, maybe, but birds rarely build nests in bushes that are only 2-3’ high. When nests are built that low, they are very easy prey for snakes, cats, and other rodents to get to – and we all know how scrambled eggs are very popular! J So, what Jesus is referring to is a something out the norm. This thing grows beyond its usual limits to become so large that the birds build their nests in its branches. The odd little note here is, in context, is that the birds of the air represent false teachers (Jesus set this principle in the parable of the soils – remember the seed that fell on the path and the birds of the air devoured them?) So, that presents an interesting little highlight in this parable. When we look at this parable from that view, we see whether we are talking about our own personal relationship with Jesus or the body of Christ in general – we all have to watch out for and avoid false teaching, even rooting it out – getting it out of our lives, so that we can become fruitful, faithful followers of Christ. So, when we hear someone who is actively contradicting God’s Word or skipping parts of the Bible they don’t (apparently) like, this needs to catch our attention like a red warning flag.

*                  Now, back to the parable: that’s a pretty interesting and elaborate description of the body of Christ isn’t it? It started with simple, pure faith and has grown big enough that people who do not follow Christ can mingle among the body of Christ and blend in pretty easily. Oh how sad it is that we have drifted from the early church pattern – who understood Jesus was calling for repentance and commitment, not a standard prayer and then we can do whatever we want. How interesting it is also to notice that Jesus, in describing His Kingdom in the hearts of men, also warned us of what we now can look around and see so clearly – false teachers parading themselves as messengers of light. “13For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14And no wonder! For Satan, himself, transforms himself into an angel of light. 15Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” (2nd Corinthians 2:13-15). That last phrase is interesting: “whose end will be according to their works” – they won’t get away with their deceiving and hurting people – God Himself will examine and expose them – here and in the judgment to come. We are certainly living in the last days that Jesus warned about in His Word: “3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2nd Timothy 4:3-5) How that is needed so much in our day – for men and women to be actively learning how to be more effective ambassadors for Christ! (2nd Corinthians 5:20) May God continue to teach us more everyday, and may we learn to not only grow through the things He teaches us, but even ask Him to teach us more! Because He is beautiful and the things He teaches are so valuable we can’t put a price on them!


33Another parable He spoke to them: ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.34All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, 35that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.


*                  The ‘Parable of the Leaven’ - This parable could be confusing, but keeping it in context helps clear it up. Leaven is yeast, and unleavened bread (matzos) is bread without yeast, so it is is flat, sort of like crackers. God uses ‘leaven’ in the Bible most often to symbolize sin. One example of this is in 1st Corinthians where God was speaking through the Apostle Paul challenging the Corinthian church to deal with the blatant immoral sin among the church body there. “6Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened.” (1st Cor. 5:7) In this passage, God used the word picture of leaven to describe that just a little yeast will permeate a large batch of bread dough, so sin and lawlessness [rebellion against God’s commands] when not properly and effectively dealt with and disciplined, that sin will encourage more people practice sin and lawlessness – and just like yeast, or a common cold, it will spread. So, just a little rebellion against God’s commands leads to more rebellion and hypocrisy (deceitfulness in saying one thing and in reality doing something else – a mask to hide the sin). That is why God dealt with rebellion like that so decisively in the church, because only a pure, God-pleasing body of followers of Christ can effective share the gospel. We all know hypocrites give the body of Christ a bad name, and rightfully so – case-in-point : among the body of believers in this country, there are a huge number of hypocrites, and it creates quite a hardship when trying to share the good news of the gospel of Christ with unbelievers, because they point to these hypocrites and rightfully talk about how they add confusion to what it means to follow Christ.


> Now, back in this little parable, Jesus uses the same concept of leaven/yeast to describe how those who choose to follow Him, it will show in their lives just like yeast – following Christ will affect and change all areas of their life. It has the idea of how that just like yeast will spread to every part of a batch of dough, so for those who follow Christ, His influence in their lives will affect every area and detail of their lives. So, Jesus is clearly saying that we can tell who is really following Christ because He transforms all areas of their life: the person’s thoughts, words, actions, intentions, motives – no area of the life a believer is unaffected by Christ’s transformation. (It’s sad how that’s not taught in many churches today…) This compelling and challenging reminder is the same idea expressed in 2nd Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” When we come to Christ, we exchange calling the shots in our life and following our own selfish, sinful desires, for following Him and letting Him teach us to love the things He loves, how to love people the way He loves people and how to leave behind the things He says will destroy us (hating the things He hates). Now, does that mean that we instantly become perfect? No, obviously not! But, those who follow Christ will allow Him to start controlling each area of their lives and teaching them what it means to obey and follow Him in each area. That preaches a lot to me too… So, we just keep learning what it means to daily take up our cross, deny ourselves and follow Him, and we’re all right – that is what God wants from us: that we seek Him. We need to keep in mind that Jesus said this in Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Notice the word “seek” – that is the idea of working toward the goal of where Christ has complete control over every area of our lives. My understanding of this verse is that this is the perspective God wants us to have in our lives and as we are getting closer to where we are striving to put Him first in every detail - working on making sure that we are only trying to say and do things that please Him –> that is what He wants from us. One of my lifetime favorite verses in the Bible is Galatians 6:9 – “And let us not grow weary while doing good for in due season, we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. [give up].