30th April 23 – The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast

30th April 23 – The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast

Matthew 13:31-35

Introduction and background

  • We’ve been studying Matthew’s gospel.


  • What is a gospel?

A gospel is the story of Jesus’ life according to, in this case, Saint Matthew.


  • Who was Matthew?

Matthew was a tax collector.


  • When Jesus asked him to follow, he immediately obeyed.


What is a parable?


  • According to the Oxford English dictionary a parable is “a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson”.


  • In the bible, parables are according to commentator Matthew Henry, “wise sayings but figurative ones, which help attract our attention and diligent seeking”.


  • Or another, more simple way of saying that is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.


Why does Christ use parables?

  • Jesus in Matthew 13:11 says “the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them” ie He wants to make it harder for non-Christians to understand.


  • So we might not understand a parable but they make us think and perhaps ponder greater things.


What is the parable of the mustard seed and the yeast about?

  • Some advertisers use strap lines or slogans to sum up what the organisation or product does. Can anyone give me a few?


  • Just do it – Nike
  • Every little helps – Tesco
  • Because you’re worth it – L’oreal
  • Building society – Nationwide
  • Every journey matters – TFL


  • But what could be the strap line for this parable? Well, I thought maybe “From little acorns, mighty oak trees grow” or maybe “Little things, can make a big difference”.


  • The mustard seed (verses 31-32). Jesus says in verse 32 “It’s the smallest of all the seeds”. Probably about 1 to 2mm in diameter. So they are really small.


  • Verse 32 “But when grown, it’s taller than the vegetables and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches.”


  • So with the right care and support it becomes strong, even a shelter for the birds.


The parable of the yeast

  • Helen’s talk – icing and food colouring


  • Jesus uses the example of the yeast when he says “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into 50 pounds of flour until it spread through all of it.”


  • Or to put it another way, a little bit can do a lot.


  • With a small quantity of yeast you get a loaf of bread.




  • This is about the work of the Kingdom of Heaven. My little summary of these parables will be, you don’t need a lot to make a big difference.


But what does that mean for us as Christians?


  • Sometimes as Christians we think to convert people to our way of thinking, we need to stage big evangelistic events with guest speakers, lively worship, etc.


  • Actually and certainly for me, this wasn’t what made me become a Christian.


  • I became a Christian because I saw a difference in my friend. She took the time to take an interest in me and after our conversation she said “can I pray for you?”


  • So from her little prayer, a big thing started to happen. I started to change, ask questions and eventually became Christian.


  • There was no big Evangelistic event for me, just simply a caring friend who prayed and showed me there was a different way.


  • Now I am not saying that big Evangelistic events are wrong but what I am saying is in my life, my big difference started with something little.


  • Even as a Christian now, I sometimes get quite embarrassed when I see a street preacher who is shouting at the top of their voice “Repent or go to hell”. And I wonder how much effect this big gesture often has?


  • See, I became a Christian through lots of small events that were nothing on their own but developed into something really big.


  • We are going to sing in a minute, From the squalor of a borrowed stable. That is a Christmas song, isn’t it?


  • Jesus started off as little, weak, helpless, vulnerable and didn’t look like the son of the God of the universe.


  • However, slowly but surely with the care of His family and God’s working He became the saviour of the universe.





  • For those of you who are observant, you might be saying to me, Wes, you’ve missed out the prayers today.


  • Prayer is a little thing that can make a big difference.


  • It’s a little conversation we have between us and God, where we ask Him to change things, to do or to stop something.


  • We know, don’t we, that prayer can make a real difference, and a big difference.


  • And as we mourn the death of our sister, Linda, we remember that she is actually a really good example to us. Of doing little things that make a big difference.


  • She bought the pizzas that the children at Catch enjoyed.


  • She stayed with Debbie in the church so the children could enjoy the sleepover.


  • She assisted with the girls’ brigade camp so that the girls could have fun and be safe.


  • Many of you who would have known her far longer than me, will think of many other examples of the little things she did that made a big difference.


  • She didn’t often do the big things, she found it difficult to attend church and to be around lots of people.


  • She had a massive impact on all of us at church even if she did quietly sit in the background and not say much.


  • So my challenge to you is what little thing can you do, that might make a big difference in someone’s life?


  • Maybe you can phone a friend who you know is struggling with their mental health.


  • Perhaps you can volunteer at tea and chat.


  • Perhaps you can donate to the uniform bank.


  • Or maybe visit a friend who is lonely and in need of support.


  • In a minute, Mike is going to play some music and we are going to have a few minutes to reflect and give thanks for Linda’s life and her impact on ours.


  • I want you also to think about what little things you can do that might make a big difference in someone’s life.


  • After we have had some time to think, we’ll have the prayer box.


  • We will also have some space for open prayer where you can bring to God the things that are on your mind and ask Him to make changes where they need to be made.


  • We can also give thanks for someone or something that was little but made a big change in your life.