Sermon # 29 Series: Matthew


            Title:              THREE INSTRUCTIVE PARABLES
            Text:              Matthew 13:24-43
            Subject:        The Parables of The Wheat and Tares, The Mustard Seed, and Leaven

            Date:             Tuesday Evening – January 31, 1995
            Tape:            # Q-95




            The title of my message tonight is Three Instructive Parables. In the verses before us our Lord Jesus declares the gospel, comparing the kingdom of heaven to a field containing both wheat and tares, a grain of mustard seed, and a leaven hidden in three measures of meal.


            Let’s begin by reading verses 34-36. In these three verses we are given insight into…


            The Method of Christ’s Preaching – (v. 34). The Master was a story teller. He did not strive for spell-binding oratory, intellectual argument, or theological recitation. He deliberately spoke in plain, simple language to clearly set forth and illustrate gospel truth. That is the kind of preaching that should be cultivated among God’s servants.



The word “parable” is the same word that is translated proverb in other places. Solomon’s wise sayings and instructive similitude’s are called proverbs, or parables by which he taught us wisdom. “Behold, a greater than Solomon is here!” By his parables he teaches us wisdom “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Verse 34 shows us the manner, or method of Christ’s preaching. In verse 35 we see…


            The Matter of Christ’s Parables – (v. 35). Speaking in parables he fulfilled the prophecy of the Old Testament scriptures (Ps. 78:2). And the matter, the subject, the theme of these parables are “things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” The gospel of Christ and the purposes of God toward the Gentile world were wrapped up in the Old Testament by the types and shadows of the law, which have now been fulfilled by Christ, in whom God has revealed himself and made known his grace.


            Then, in verse 36, we see The Majesty of Christ’s Person. Before explaining the parable of the wheat and the tares, our Savior sent the multitudes away and entered into a house with his disciples. Here is God almighty exercising his sovereign mercy, giving grace to whom he would, and making a clear distinction among men. To some he revealed his Word. From others he hid the meaning of his words. That is his prerogative as God (Matt. 20:15; Ex. 33:19).




In these three instructive parables our Savior shows us what we may expect to be the result of gospel preaching throughout the ages of time, and both the righteous and the wicked may expect from God when time shall be no more.


I.  First, I want us to learn The Parable of The Mustard Seed (vv. 31-32).


            Though our Lord Jesus gave the parable of the wheat and the tares before those of the mustard seed and the leaven, he explained it afterward. So we will look at the parables in this order: 1st The Mustard Seed, 2nd The Leaven, and then, 3rd, The Wheat and Tares – (31-32).


            The parable of the grain of mustard seed is designed to teach us never to despise the day of small things.



God’s thoughts are not our thoughts; and his ways are not our ways. God almost always does things exactly opposite of what we would and of what we imagine he does. The gospel does not triumph all at once. The church and kingdom of God is not set up all at once, neither amongst us in the world nor within us in our hearts. Here are three facts illustrated by the parable of the mustard seed.


A.  The Church of God Sprang from a Very Small Seed Sown In The Earth.



God’s works almost always begin in obscurity, with what appear to be insignificant things.


·        The Calling of Abram.

·        Joseph’s Coat of Many colors and His Dreams.

·        Luther’s 95 – Theseses!

·        The Work Here!


B.  The Work of The Gospel, The Spread of God’s Church and Kingdom is a Gradual, but Consistent Thing.


            Like the grain of mustard seed sown in the ground, its growth is almost unobservable, but steady.


C.  As The Full Grown Mustard Seed is The Greatest and Largest of all Herbs, So The Church and Kingdom of God Shall, In The End of The World, Be Immeasurably Great and Large – (Ps. 80:8-11).


            The number of God’s elect shall be ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands. Untold millions and billions of people shall inhabit heaven’s glory with Christ!


NOTE: Our Lord also compares faith to a grain of mustard seed (Luke 17:6). It begins small. It grows slowly. It becomes a great grace, honoring God and serviceable to men.


II.  The Parable of The Leaven (v. 33).


            This parable is misinterpreted by many. We are often told that the leaven refers to the ever-increasing evil of the world. But our Lord is not talking about the world. He is talking about “the kingdom of heaven.” He is talking about his church, The parable of the leaven is very much the same in meaning as the parable of the mustard seed. It teaches us that the gospel prevails by degrees and works like leaven in the hearts of God’s elect.


A.  A Woman took the Leaven.


            The woman, the weaker vessel, represents gospel preachers who have the treasure of the gospel in earthen vessels (II Cor. 4:7).


B.  The Leaven was Hidden in Three Measures Of Meal.


            The regenerate heart, like meal, is soft and pliable. Leaven will never work in corn, but only in ground meal. So the gospel has no effect upon the stony, unregenerate heart. It only works upon broken hearts that have been ground by the Holy Spirit in conviction.


C.  Once the Leaven is Hidden in the Dough, It Works.


            So the word of God, hidden in the hearts of chosen, redeemed sinners by God the Holy Spirit, works and brings forth fruit.


·        Hebrews 4:12


NOTE: The change it works is universal (II Cor. 5:17), but gradual!


III. Now, learn The Parable of The Wheat and The Tares – (vv. 24-30, 36-43).


            I will not attempt to explain every detail of this parable, because our Savior has already explained the details to us. Vs. 37-39 Let me just show you the primary lessons to be learned from it.


A.  There is No Such Thing As A Perfect or Pure Church In This World.


            Every local church, every assembly of professed believers is a mixed multitude. This has been the experience of God’s saints in all ages.


·        The Early Churches.

·        The Reformers.


B.  It is Not The Business of God’s Servants to Separate The Wheat from The Tares.


·        We do not have the ability to do it.

·        We are not authorized to do it.

·        We must not try to do it.


“Those who are tares today may be wheat tomorrow.” – Augustine.


C.  In The Harvest Time, at the End of the World, the Lord God Will Separate The Wheat from The Tares.


·        Revelation 14:15-20 vv. 40-43




None but God can tell tares from wheat until the harvest time. At harvest time, the tares stand tall. The wheat bows its head – (Matt. 25).