OceanSide church of Christ

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Matt. 13:31-32; Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18-19

Victor M. Eskew




A.            Recently, we began a study of the Parables of Jesus on Sunday evenings. 

1.              Jesus was not the first to use parables in teachings, but He lifted the concept of a parable to a higher level.

2.              Now, when we hear the word “parable,” we always associate it with the parables of Jesus.


B.             Last week, we looked at “The Parable of the Leaven.”


C.            This evening we want to study “The Parable of the Mustard Seed.” 

1.              This is said to be the companion parable to “The Parable of the Leaven.”

2.              Three gospel writers record this parable (Matt. 13:31-32; Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18-19).

3.              We will examine Matthew’s account (Matt. 13:31-32).


Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:  which indeed is the least of all seeds:  but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.


4.              This parable, like all parables, has one dominate lesson in it.  The lesson is:  The Outward Growth of the Kingdom of God.”




A.            Jesus said that the kingdom would begin very small, just as a mustard seed which is put into the ground.

1.              The mustard seed was a common herb in Israel.

2.              It was a proverbial statement of the Jewish rabbis to say:  “Small as a mustard seed.”  It indicated that which was small and insignificant.


B.             Have you ever stopped to really think about the small beginnings involved in the kingdom of God?

1.              Jesus was born in a manger in the small town of Bethlehem.

2.              His father held a lowly position as a carpenter.

3.              He was reared in the despised city of Nazareth.

4.              His ministry only last about 3 to 3-1/2 years.

5.              His followers were ordinary.  Most were ignorant and unlearned.

6.              This man was arrested and tried before His enemies.  Eventually, He was crucified as a criminal upon a cross.

7.              Prior to Pentecost, only about 120 seemed to have been loyal followers.

8.              That which would ignite a movement was a story, the story of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

C.            From these small, humble beginnings something great was going to come forth.


D.            Daniel had a similar revelation while in the land of Babylon.

1.              A small stone broke in pieces the great image that Nebuchadnezzar saw in a dream.  This small stone became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth (Dan. 2:35).

2.              That small stone was the kingdom of God (Dan. 2:44).


And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed:  and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.


E.             Some have a tendency to despise small things.

1.              We should never have this mentality about small things (Zech. 4:10).

2.              Small things can produce tremendously great things.


II.      SEED


A.            There is an emphasis in the parable upon a small seed, the mustard seed.


B.             In the kingdom of God, there is a seed associated therewith (Luke 8:11).


Now the parable is this:  The seed is the word of God.


C.            This seed has been looked down upon in many ways.

1.              It is small, consisting of only sixty-six small books.

2.              It is old, having been written thousands of years ago.

3.              It was written within a culture that is unlike our modern culture.


D.            Although this seed is small, it should not be despised.

1.              It is the foundation of a world religion known as Christianity.

2.              It has weathered the storms and onslaughts of many attacks.

3.              It has radically altered the lives of millions upon millions of people.


E.             This seed, like the mustard seed, has power residing within it.

1.              Jeremiah 23:29.


Is not my word like a fire:  saith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?


2.              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.


3.              This Word is powerful because it reveals the mind of God by means of the Spirit of God.  Divine power inherently resides in every word.



A.            The little seed of the parable produced significant results.

1.              Matthew states: ...it is the greatest among herbs…and becometh a tree…

2.              Mark writes:  …and shooteth out great branches (Mark 4:32).

3.              This was a real result.

a.        The mustard tree could grow to the height of 8 to 12 feet tall.  A horse and rider could take shade under its branches.

b.       It grew big enough that instead of being planted in a garden, it was put into a field.

c.       It was possible for several birds to rest within its branches.


B.             The little beginnings of the Lord’s kingdom would produce unbelievable, massive results.

1.              In the Great Commission, Jesus told His disciples to go into all the world (Mark 16:15).  This was accomplished according to Romans 10:18.


But I say, Have they not heard?  Yes, verily, Their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.


2.              The gospel began in Judaea, and then went to Samaria, Phoenicia, Cyprus, Asia Minor, Macedonia, Greece, Babylon, Arabia, and Egypt.

3.              Great numbers came to the kingdom of God.

a.        About three thousand on Pentecost Day (Acts 2:41).

b.       The number of the men grew to about 5000 (Acts 4:4).

c.       Acts 5:14.


And the believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.


                               d.       Acts 6:7.


And the word of the Lord increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.


                               e.        Acts 16:5.


And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.


4.              Christianity is still one of the major world religions.  That which was so small and insignificant became great and significant.


C.            Just as we should not despise little things, we should not be critical of greatness.

1.              The Lord wanted His kingdom to become a towering mountain in the world.

2.              He wanted it to break in pieces and consume all the other kingdoms.





A.            Once the tree was grown the birds of the air came and lodge in the branches thereof.


B.             The kingdom of God is place of both safety and nourishment for those who will come and lodge within its protection.

1.              Safety.

a.        Safe from the enemy.

b.       Safe from the hostile environment of the world.

                     2.        Nourishment is found within the Word of God.


C.            NOTE:  Some like to try to turn the branches into the various denominations that exist today.  ANSWER:  The tree was one and only one kind of tree, a mustard tree.  It was not a tree bearing 2000+ different kinds of limbs and fruit.




A.            The parable of the mustard seed emphasizes the external, numerical growth of the kingdom.


B.             It stresses both the small seed and the large tree that results.


C.            The parable issues a call to mankind.

1.              Come and rest within the branches of this kingdom (Matt. 11:28-30).


Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:  and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.


2.              Help to spread the seed of the kingdom that it might continue to increase.