Sermon #97 Luke Sermons
Title: Two Instructive Parables
Text: Luke 13:18-21
Date: Sunday Evening –
Tape # X-51b
The title of my message tonight is Two Instructive Parables. In the verses before us our Lord Jesus declares the gospel, comparing the kingdom of heaven to a grain of mustard seed and a leaven hidden in three measures of meal.
13:18-21) "Then said he, Unto what is the
The Lord Jesus was a great story teller. He constantly used parables, told stories to illustrate and enforce his doctrine.
(Matthew 13:34-35) "All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: (35) That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world."
Our Master 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.
(1 Corinthians 2:3-5) "And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. (4) And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: (5) That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."
(Mark 4:33-34) "And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. (34) But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples."
When the Lord Jesus preached, he always preached in the plainest, simplest manner imaginable. He who is the embodiment of wisdom and knowledge never used complicated words and phrases. He never once referred to the original language, or even defined a word. He did not use words that required definition. Instead, he told stories and illustrated the truths he taught by parables.
In contrast with today’s preaching, our Lord’s example of preaching speaks volumes. He preached in such a way that people understood what he preached. He never tried to impress his hearers with how smart a man he was or how much he knew. He did not display knowledge. He taught knowledge. There is a huge difference. Those who follow the Master’s example do not try to impress men. They instruct men.
· Our Master taught with plainness and simplicity.
He did not preach what he could not illustrate; and when he was finished, the people who heard him understood what he had said.
· Our Savior taught with knowledge and understanding.
(Jeremiah 3:15) "And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding."
He knew exactly what they needed, and what they could bear, and taught them accordingly.
· The Son of God expounded all things to his disciples.
He kept back nothing from them. He expounded to them all the Word of God. Faithful men follow his example.
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.”
· Speaking in parables our Lord fulfilled the prophecy of the Old Testament scriptures (Ps. 78:2).
(Psalms 78:2) "I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:"
And the matter, the subject, the theme of these parables, Matthew tells us, 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.
· The Master’s reason for speaking in parables is explained in Matthew 13:9-10.
(Matthew 13:9-10) "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (10) And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?"
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. -26; ; Ex. 33:19).
(Exodus 33:19) "And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy."
(Matthew 11:25-26) "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. (26) Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight."
(Matthew 20:15) "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?"
Proposition: In the two instructive parables of the mustard seed and the leaven our Savior shows us what we may expect to be the result of gospel preaching throughout the ages of time.
I. First, I want us to learn The Parable of The Mustard Seed (vv. 18-19).
13:18-19) "Then said he, Unto what is the
Remember, parables are common, familiar earthly illustrations of spiritual, heavenly truths. In this case, the parable is drawn from a commonly used proverbial expression during the days of our Lord’s earthly ministry. The parable of the grain of mustard seed is designed to teach us never to despise the day of small things (Zech 4:6-10). I will get to that in a few minutes. But…
A. The first thing I want to show you from this parable is the veracity of Holy Scripture.
Ignorant men who think themselves wise, reprobate men who think themselves spiritual, pass judgment upon the Word of God. They claim to be Christians, claim to be people of faith, and claim to honor Christ, while denying the veracity of the Bible. Not long ago, I heard a man in an interview with ABC News say, “I believe the Bible; but I don’t take it word for word.” A woman, in the same segment said, “I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God; but I do not think you have to take it all literally.” Regrettably, those comments fairly well represent the opinions of most who profess to be Christians in our day.
In this day of spiritual darkness and perversion, there is almost a universal abandonment of belief in the verbal, plenary inspiration of God’s holy, inerrant Word. Rejecting the veracity and consequently the authority of Holy Scripture, men and women everywhere are turning to necromancy, astrology, and sorcery for spiritual counsel and aid.
“Satan assumes the garb of an angel of light and his deceptions in this disguise are deadly.” John Hazelton
Isaiah 8:19-20 "And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? (20) To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
You may be thinking, “Pastor, why are you talking about those who deny the veracity of Holy Scripture in the exposition of the parable of the mustard seed?” I am glad you asked.
Frequently, those who think they are smarter than God point to this parable to show that our Savior was either ignorant or misinformed, because he spoke of the mustard seed as the smallest of all seeds and of the mustard plant as a tree. Those who make such judgments are ignorant and misinformed.
1. When our Lord said that the mustard seed is “the smallest of all seeds in the earth, he was not talking about all seeds without exception, but all the seeds a man sews in his garden.
2. Though we usually think of mustard plants as bushy, leafy plants, there is a variety of mustard that grows into a pretty good size tree like plant, sort of like a banana tree in size.
We must never allow men, with their imaginary proofs of inaccuracies in the Bible shake our faith in the Word of God.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
B. Second, the mustard seed was used by our Lord as an illustration of our faith in him.
Though it is never mentioned in the Old Testament,
many varieties of mustard plants grew in abundance in and around
(Matthew 17:14-21) "And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, (15) Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is a lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. (16) And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. (17) Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. (18) And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. (19) Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? (20) And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. (21) Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."
(Luke 17:3-6) "Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. (4) And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. (5) And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. (6) And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you."
In both of these places, our Lord uses mustard seed to illustrate faith. I cannot expound these passages now, or I could not get to my text; but I cannot ignore them, simply because mustard seed is mentioned only five times in the Word of God. When it is used to illustrate faith, as in Matthew 17:20 and Luke 17:6, it teaches us four specific things about the character of true faith.
1. True, saving faith, begins as a very small thing - A Grain of Mustard Seed.
The fact is, true believers always recognize that their faith is a small, very small thing. We often look upon our brothers and sisters in Christ as being men and women of great faith; but anyone who thinks he has great faith probably has no faith at all.
2. It is not the greatness of our faith, but the greatness of our God and Savior, the Object of our faith, that gives it merit, power, and efficacy.
Far too many have faith in their faith, which is to say they have faith in themselves. We must never imagine that there is some mystical power to faith. The power of our faith is Christ the Object of our faith. It is not our faith that moves the mountain of our sins or plucks up the sycamore tree of trouble; but the blood of Christ and the power of Christ, who is the Object of or faith. The question is not, “How much faith do I have;” but “What is the object of my faith?” Great faith in an idol is as useless as spitting in the wind; but faith even as a grain of mustard seed in the God of glory is mighty, effectual, saving faith.
3. With God, nothing is impossible; and therefore, “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mk. ).
Nothing can stand in the way of, hinder, or defeat
that man and those people who, being called of God, believe him. It was
4. Yet, nothing is more abominably wretched than the paralyzing effect of unbelief.
When the Lord Jesus came into his own land, among his own people, we read, “He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matt. ). Just in proportion as we believe God, we experience his power and grace. Just in proportion as believe him, we see his glory. Nothing is as costly as unbelief!
48:16-19 "Come ye near unto me, hear
ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it
was, there am I: and now the Lord
GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me. (17) Thus
saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of
“Of all the sad words of tongue and pen,
The saddest are these:
‘What might have bee!’”
Now, I want us to look at our text. In this passage, Luke records the same parable recorded by Matthew () and Mark (-34).
C. Third, the parable of the mustard seed illustrates the growth of God’s church and kingdom in this world.
The purpose of the parable is, as I said before, to teach us to never despise the day of small things. But it is also intended to assure us of the certain growth and blessedness of Christ’s church and kingdom in this world.
Like faith in the heart, the church and
1. Those who were chosen to be the foundational apostles of Christ’s kingdom were poor, unlettered fishermen.
2. He who is the Lord and Master of this Church, the King of this Kingdom, was a despised Nazarene, a crucified Jew.
3. The doctrine proclaimed by this Church, the doctrine which they preached everywhere, was the doctrine of grace, life, and eternal salvation by the merit and efficacy of a crucified Substitute.
In the eyes of men, nothing could have been less likely to be successful, nothing could have been more despicable, nothing could have been more offensive. Yet, this was God’s work, God’s Church, and God’s Kingdom.
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
· The Body of Christ – (John ).
(John 12:24) "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
· The One Hundred and Twenty.
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 9Thesies!
· The Work Here!
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. 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).
80:8-11) "Thou hast brought a vine
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!
4. Once planted, this Church and Kingdom grew into a great Kingdom.
Our Lord’s parable here was prophetic. Again, he was telling his disciples not to despise the day of small things. Though it appeared a small, despicable thing, like mustard seed, the Lord here prophesied that his Church would become a great, large Kingdom. He said, “As the mustard plant grows to be the greatest of all herbs, so shall my church grow to be the greatest of all kingdoms.”
So it has come to pass. It began to grow on the day of Pentecost. 3000 were born into his Kingdom on that day. The Church grew so rapidly that nothing can account for it except the finger of God. A few days after Pentecost, 5000 were added to the Church at once. Wherever God’s servants went preaching the gospel, it proved to be the power of God unto salvation.
1:14-17 "I am debtor both to the
Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. (15) So, as much as in me is, I am
ready to preach the gospel to you that are at
· It is not done growing yet.
· God still employs the same means today as he did in the beginning for the building of his Church.
1 Corinthians 1:21-31 "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (22) For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: (23) But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; (24) But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (25) Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (26) For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (29) That no flesh should glory in his presence. (30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
Matthew "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
“In spite of all the predictions of Voltaire and Payne, in spite of foes without and treachery within, the visible Church progresses, - the mustard plant still grows!” J.C. Ryle
5. That which is true of the Church as a whole is true of each member of it.
The beginnings of grace in the life of a believer are very small; but where there is life there is growth; and those who are born of God are grown by God. The more they grow, the smaller they appear in their own eyes. Yet, when God is finished with us, we shall at last be transformed into the very likeness of the Son of God!
fourth thing that is evident in this parable is this: The church and
Though no one in the world knows it, and few in the
1 Corinthians "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy."
As in a home the unbelieving are sanctified by the believing, in a moral sense, so in the world, the unbelieving are sanctified by the believing. Read your history books. Education did absolutely nothing to improve the moral condition of the Greek and Roman worlds. Plato and Aristotle made absolutely no impact upon society for moral good. That which has improved every society, every culture, every family, and every relationship under its influence is the gospel of Christ.
E. Fifth, in this parable of the mustard seed, our Lord
reminds us again that the church and
The fowls of the air also represent the mixed
multitude in the visible Church and
There is no such thing as a perfect Church in this world. Every true Church has within its fold both goats and sheep. It is a nesting place for birds clean and birds unclean. It is garden enclosed; but a garden with wheat and tares growing side by side.
What are we to do about this? Nothing! Do not try to scare off the crows. If you do, you will drive away the red birds. Do not try to pull up the tares. You will pull up wheat very time. Never try to separate sheep from goats. We are not equipped for it.
· Only the Lord himself can distinguish the true from the false.
· It is his work to do the separating; and he will do it.
II. Now, briefly, let’s look at the parable of the leaven (vv. 20-21).
13:20-21) "And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the
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 leaven.
The woman, the weaker vessel, represents gospel preachers who have the treasure of the gospel in earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7).
(2 Corinthians 4:7) "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."
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. The change it works is gradual, but it works (Heb. ).
(Hebrews 4:12) "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
God’s work is like the growth of the mustard seed and the spread of leaven, so small and gradual in our eyes that it is almost unobservable. Let us never despise the day of small things. But when he gets done…
(Zechariah 4:6-10) "Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. (7) Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. (8) Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, (9) The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. (10) For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth."