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What Jesus' “kingdom” is like

March 8, 2023

Daily Scripture

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-46

31 He told another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and planted in his field. 32 It’s the smallest of all seeds. But when it’s grown, it’s the largest of all vegetable plants. It becomes a tree so that the birds in the sky come and nest in its branches.”
33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast, which a woman took and hid in a bushel of wheat flour until the yeast had worked its way through all the dough.”

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that somebody hid in a field, which someone else found and covered up. Full of joy, the finder sold everything and bought that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. 46 When he found one very precious pearl, he went and sold all that he owned and bought it.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Jesus’ parables were never just fun stories—they creatively called his hearers to turn around and change their lives to follow him. (We’ll study the parables in more depth in the third week of this series.) Using the tiny mustard seed as an illustration, Jesus showed that “the glorious future kingdom was already active in a hidden way in Jesus’ ministry.” * From humble yeast to fabulous treasure, Jesus stories invited people to “trade in” their old way of life for what he offered.

  • Yeast—really? “The whole point of the parable lies in one thing—the transforming power of the leaven. Leaven changed the character of a whole baking…. The introduction of the leaven causes a transformation in the dough; and the coming of the Kingdom causes a transformation in life.” ** In what ways has your choice to be a citizen of Jesus’ kingdom transformed your life? In what parts of your life is the yeast at work now leading you to positive change?
  • These stories made a bold claim. “The gospel of the kingdom isn’t a pleasant religious idea that you might like to explore some time when you’ve got an hour or two to spare…. It’s like a fabulous hoard of treasure, yours for the taking—if you’ll sell everything else to buy the field where it’s hidden.” *** In what ways has Jesus called you to give up any ideas or activities you valued to gain Jesus’ kingdom? Has it been worth it?

Lord Jesus, make me a “yeasty” Christian who can change the world around me for the good. Make me willing to give up anything else to receive your gift of eternal life. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Jennifer Creager

Jennifer Creager

Jennifer Creagar is the Community Assistance Coordination Director in Resurrection's Congregational Care Ministry. She is married and loves spending time with her family, and she enjoys writing and photography.

I love to bake bread. To me, the entire process is fascinating. You take a few very basic ingredients-–flour, sugar, salt, liquid, and the thing that makes it all come together-–yeast. You mix them carefully, then set the gooey mess aside in a warm place and go away to wait patiently for the good ingredients to stretch and expand. Some bread recipes require you to let the dough rise more than once, work it some more, and leave it again to rise to its full potential. Then it’s off to the completion of the journey-–baking in a hot oven until it reaches perfection and can contribute to keeping another, larger organism (a hungry human) alive.

I’m not surprised Jesus used yeast, the working ingredient in a basic household staple that he probably saw and smelled baking for most of his life, as a picture of the workings of the kingdom of heaven. Baking good bread requires periods of focused attention, and the very best way to learn how to do it is to have a good, loving, and patient teacher. Many long-time members of the Resurrection family can tell you stories of learning about bread and Jesus with love and instruction from a great lady named Marty Mather.

Jesus said that the Kingdom of heaven was like yeast, making the dough rise, just like God’s spirit makes our hearts and spirits rise as we work through the process of loving and serving God. Sometimes, after rising a while, we may even need to be worked a little longer, to make sure that the yeast, the working of God’s spirit in our lives, reaches every part of us. The rising needs the right environment, like surrounding ourselves with the warmth and love of others who are seeking to love and serve God.

This week, let’s pray that we can see and feel the yeast of God’s spirit working its way through us, and that we will seek that good environment of others who are also rising, so that we may all rise to loving and serving God’s kingdom.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook (Kindle Locations 219928-219930). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
** William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Matthew—Volume 2 Chapters 11–28 (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 79.
*** N. T. Wright, Matthew for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1–15. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, p. 177.