The Kingdom of Heaven is Like: Wheat Among Weeds, Mustard Seeds, and Yeast (Matthew 13:24-43)
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Wheat, Mustard Seeds, and Yeast
Matthew 13:24-43 (Pastor Heo)
The Parable of the Weeds
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 ” ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 ” ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ “
The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast
13:31,32pp — Mk 4:30-32 13:31-33pp — Lk 13:18-21
31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.” 33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.” 34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. 35 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.”
The Parable of the Weeds Explained
36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
Matthew 13 is a parable chapter of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus uses 7 material things to teach us something about the KOH. Parable = earthly story with heavenly meaning/truth.
Parable #1: The Sower with 4 kinds of Soil
Today, 3 parables about the KOH.
- Man sows a good seed – Wheat among Weeds
- Mustard seed
- Yeast (leaven)
#1: KOH = Wheat among Weeds
There is a saying “Ill weeds grow apace.” This was very familiar to the Palestinian audience. Weeds are a curse against which farmers must labor. During their early stages, the weeds and wheat look the same. It’s impossible to distinguish one from the other.
But, when they grow a little more, they could be distinguish. But, their roots were twisted together, so it was impossible to uproot the weeds without affecting/hurting the wheat. So, both had to be left to grow together until the time of harvest.
Then, at the time of harvest, the wheat and weeds had to be separated. The weeds were poisonous and bitter – a narcotic and causing sickness.
The Jews called the weeds “bastard wheat.”
- The one who sows the good seed = Jesus.
- The good seed = the children of the KOH.
- The enemy who sowed the evil seed = Satan.
- The weeds = the children of this world.
- The field = this world.
- The harvesters = angels.
Satan CANNOT uproot true Christians.
So, Satan merely plants FALSE Christians to infect and influence the true Christians.
Our task is not to pull the weeds, but plant the wheat. We are not detectives, but evangelists. We are not pullers, but planters.
Yes, we should expose the lies of the Devil, but we must also (more importantly) bear fruit.
In this world, there is always a hostile power waiting and seeking to destroy the good seed.
- Helps the seed of the world?Word? to grow and flourish.
- Tries to destroy the good seed.
We must always be on guard, on watch in this world.
Believers and unbelievers are living together – even here in this service. There are some in the KOH and some who are not. So hard it is to distinguish. A man may appear good, but be in fact bad. A man may appear bad, but be in fact good.
We (dangerously) quickly classify men as “good” or “bad” without knowing the truth. We must wait until the time of the harvest to know the truth. A man is not judged by a single mistake in his life – but by his whole life. Through the grace and sacrifice of Christ, a man may make an ugly life a beautiful thing. Alternatively, a man may live his entire life purely, and at the last moment, fall into sin. Judgment comes someday, at the end, not hastily.
Humanly speaking, a sinner in this world may not ever receive his consequences in this world. But there is a new life to come. Goodness likewise may not ever receive its reward in this world, but there is a new life to come. Only Jesus knows and can judge all things perfectly, completely. At the last time, God will judge all things rightly. Therefore, we must judge ourselves (2 Cor 3?) “Judge yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Do you not know that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless you fail the test.”
The KOH = wheat among weeds (present and growing in this world full of sin and unbelief).
#2: KOH = mustard seed
The smallest of seeds – produces a large tree.
The point is very clear: the growing power of the mustard seed – from smallest to largest. The KOH is like this – from insignificance to magnificence.
The KOH began with the smallest – JC as a baby in the manger, his death on the cross, resurrection, and ascension. Then, the church was left in the care of 12 apostles and a few hundred followers.
But someday the KOH will cover all the world (2 billion Christians in the world today).
Humanly speaking, Jesus came as a weak person – in a manger, son of a poor carpenter.
When Jesus comes again, he will come as the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and his kingdom will cover all the world. At that time, all knees will bow and worship him, and all mouths will confess he is the Lord, Son of God.
In daily application?
This can be true in our small group, churches, schools, academies, careers. The KOH may start with only one person, and nobody knows how big that may grow one day.
A man who is set on fire for Christ is a person who kindles others.
If you plant (preach the gospel message) – this is your mustard seed in his heart and it CAN (with God’s water and help) can grow large in his heart.
This parable was shocking to them.
Actually, throughout the Bible, yeast is a symbol of SIN – uncleanness. For example, during the Passover, they had to eat unleavened (un-yeasted) bread. Yeast had to be removed from their sacrifices as well.
Yeast was also a symbol of carnality and hypocrisy on the church.
This would be shocking.
“The KOH is like the symbol for uncleanness.”
“What?” This obviously got their attention.
The point? The transformational power of yeast. Just a LITTLE bit with transform the entire loaf of bread.
Without yeast, the bread is hard, tasteless, unappetizing, not delicious. With yeast = soft, spongy, delicious. The yeast transforms it all.
Like this, the KOH transforms our whole lives. The hidden reality of the KOH = Jesus and he transforms our personal, spiritual, physical, social lives.
In human history, there are great societies, great communities where the KOH transformed the whole society.
1. Life for women in history.
- At that time, women were considered property. Men would pray, “Thank God I’m not a Gentile, slave, or woman.” She was completely secluded.
- In Korea, until Christianity came, a woman was like a half-slave to her husband and his family.
- In India, until Christianity came, there was a horrible practice – when a husband died, his wife was buried alive to follow her husband.
2. Life for slaves
In human history, until Christianity came, in every community, country, society, there were slaves. Even in Abraham’s community, in Greek, Rome, America, India, Korea – every place there were slaves. A slave was a piece of property – a walking piece of real estate – not a person. But, wherever Christianity penetrated, slavery has gone.
Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. So stand firm, do not let yourselves submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
In all aspects of life, only Jesus can give you freedom.
3. Life for children
In ancient times, children had a good chance of dying during his childhood. So, a child was not counted in number, not allowed to attend public meetings. Jesus said, “Let them come to me. Do not stop them. The KOH belongs to such as these.” Jesus received them and blessed them.
4. Life for the weak, sick, and aged
In pagan life at that time, these people were considered a nuisance, irritation. In Greece, in Sparta, when a boy was born, he was to be shown to the examiners – if healthy, he was allowed to live. If weak, sick, or deformed, he was put on the mountain to “live” alone (he died).
In history, Christianity is the first faith to be interested in these broken things in life.
Yes, even today, only Jesus can transform our lives and societies.
From slaves to free, from children of hell to children of God.
May God bless us all with this transforming power in our lives.