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Keys to the Kingdom

Week 4: Growth in the Kingdom

Matthew 13:31-33

In His continuation of teaching about the kingdom of God, Jesus starts another parable. What we must remind ourselves about Christ’s parables is that those who do not have a personal relationship with Christ cannot truly comprehend what Jesus is teaching through these comparisons. Truly, one who is included in the “Kingdom of God” will understand much more about these parables than one who is not included.
Something else we have to understand about parables is that they have context. They have cultural context, which we will be looking at in a minute but they also have literary context. When it comes to the thirteenth chapter of Matthew (or any other passage of scripture) it is important to notice what is written before and after each passage you read. So let us do that with verses 31-33. We know about the parables that are taught before these verses. We can look and see similarities between the two passages. In fact even though these verses tell two different parables they carry on the same main thoughts about the Kingdom of God. The verses after this passage do the same. While these verses are a continuation of Christ’s teaching on the Kingdom of God, they bring a new perspective on that Kingdom. Let us dive into that perspective together.
Let’s look at the first parable: Read Matthew 13:31-32.
Jesus describes a mustard seed which is planted and grows into a tree. His audience would have understood the reference because a mustard plant was not an uncommon occurrence in their geographical location. Mustard seeds as far as seeds are concerned are very small but when a Mustard can grow up to 10 feet, it truly was a shrub but it overshadowed all other plants in the garden and was even big enough for birds to nest in.

  1. Here are some things we can gather from that.
    The Kingdom of God starts small, yet grows much larger than how it starts.
  2. The Kingdom of God while large is not the whole garden.
  3. The Kingdom of God includes sustains life for those who might not look like the tree in the first place (Gentiles)

The Christ moves on to the next parable, which is about leaven. Read Matthew 13:33
Leaven is another thing that would not be uncommon in the Middle East at this time. It was used in baking in order make the bread rise.
Some things we can gather from that are:

  1. The Kingdom of God brings use and flavor to something that was flavorless.
  2. The Kingdom of God brings growth quiet yet robust growth.
    Ultimately these passages are talking about growth. Yet we know this growth

will not come without problems as we see in the previous parables. However, these parables true focus is on growth THROUGH Christ.
Christ is the seed that seems small and unnoticeable, yet from Him grows a Kingdom that is countless, and provides for people across social boundaries and even time itself. Christ is the leaven that provides growth to something that cannot grow itself. The growth is quiet but happens overnight and provides for all who wish to partake.
We must understand that Christ is the beginning the Kingdom of God, and that without him we are barren dirt without seed, and dry tasteless bread without Him. He provides shelter and sustenance for us all.