Mustard Seed Mt 13:31-32; Mk 4:30-32; Lk 13:18-19
Leaven Mt 13:33; Lk 13:20-21
Barren Fig Lk 13:6-9
I. Background to the Parables
a. While teaching a great multitude of people and being attacked by the Pharisees, Jesus taught about being
prepared for His coming, Lk 12:42-48.
b. Jesus taught about the struggles of the kingdom, 12:51-53.
c. Jesus taught about repentance and judgment, 13:1-5.
2. Definitions/Cultural Insights
a. Leaven: yeast that causes bread to rise, a small amount will spread throughout the dough.
b. Meal: ground grain, likely wheat flour.
c. Mustard: a plant with very small seeds that grows over ten feet tall in fertile soil.
d. Barren: producing no fruit.
e. Fig: a tree with large green leaves that produces a sweet fruit. The fruit is hidden by the leaves in the early stages.
f. Vineyard: a garden of fruit bearing plants.
II. Understanding the Parables
1. The parable of the fig tree was obviously directed at the Pharisees, Lk 13:6-9.
a. Like the fig tree with its large green leaves, they made a show of goodness.
b. Upon close inspection, there was no real fruit in their lives.
c. The master would give them an additional time to bear fruit, but then failing, they would be destroyed.
2. The parable of the mustard seed, great things come from small beginnings, Lk 13:18-19.
a. The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds, and just so the message of the gospel seems small and foolish
in man’s sight, 1 Cor 1:21-25.
b. Once this seed germinates, a great plant will grow, if the soil is good, 1 Pet 1:22-25, Eph 2:17-22.
3. The parable of the leaven, the influence of the gospel spreads, Lk 13:20-21.
a. Just as leaven can spread throughout the meal, the gospel will spread throughout the world, Mk 16:16.
b. Leaven spreads by contact, and the influence of Jesus spreads from person to person, 1 Cor 4:6-7, 1 Pet 2:11-12.
III. Consideration and Application of the Parables
1. Do Not Make A Show…
The Pharisees did things such as fasting and prayer to be seen of men, to make a good show, but there was no good
fruit in their lives. In the same way, making a show of keeping religious traditions today without having a converted
heart will produce no good fruit. The Master knows if there is real fruit in our lives. Do any of us practice religious
traditions just to look good to other people? What is the sweet fruit of true Christianity?
2. Bear Fruit…
The Master is patient and long suffering with His plants, but there is a limit to His patience. After sufficient time and
cultivation, if there is no good fruit, the tree will be destroyed. What is the fruit God expects to find in our lives? How
long will God give us to produce fruit?
3. Little Beginnings End Big… with God
God chose something that is small and foolish from the human perspective, the preaching of a simple message about
God’s mercy and love, to save those who believe. The seed of the kingdom seems small indeed, but it has the power
to save eternally all who believe and trust Jesus. Do you sometimes feel that your work of lifting up Jesus to the world
is small and useless? What big things grow from the preaching of God’s word?
4.The Gospel Spreads… by personal contact
Just as yeast spreads throughout the meal, the gospel spreads by personal example and contact with other people.
People see our lives, and our influence can lead them to Jesus. Jesus said we should be lights to the world, that they
may see our good works and glorify God. What things in your life encourage others to believe in Jesus? What do
people see when they see your life? Why is it important to preach the gospel throughout the world?
IV. Memory Verses - Lk 13:8-9