He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:
“I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”
Jesus continues His speech of parables; there are two more in these few verses. As before, He begins with the words, “The Kingdom of heaven is like…” denoting that 1) this is a parable (Is like) and 2) that the subject is indeed the kingdom of heaven. As we read these parables about the Kingdom of heaven we would be well advised to keep in the mind that everything about the Kingdom of heaven has a strong apocalyptic implication. I would also mention once again that “apocalyptic doesn’t mean the “End”, it means “to reveal” and what is revealed may or may not be about the “End”.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed is a simple one, since a mustard seed is so small, so apparently insignificant, and yet it can grow into a very large bush. We might say that the mustard plant is in a sense, counter-intuitive, since when we see one, we would likely assume it has a large seed as other bushes normally do, but it is actually one of the smallest of seeds.
In the world’s terms, the Kingdom of heaven isn’t all that significant, in fact a great many liken it to a fairy tale as they scoff at the very idea of such a thing. But the Kingdom of heaven is the most counter-intuitive of all things, because its power is to found in its apparent weakness and insignificance.
The Parable of Yeast is similar to that of the mustard seed, for when we put a small amount of yeast into the flour to make the dough for bread, little would we suspect that such a small amount yeast would find its way into the entire dough mixture, becoming something so powerful that it entirely changes the nature of the dough. The Kingdom is like that because it comes into the world, and changes everything; no wonder it is opposed so fiercely!
The section ends with Matthew yet again showing us how this speech of Jesus’ ties into Israel’s history of prophecy.