Study of the Kingdom – Matthew 12 and 13

For the second block of study on the Kingdom, Matthew 12 and 13 are the two main chapters.  Transitions of time and location are sketchy but to me, it seems that starting in Chapter 11 these make up a day or at least a very small period of time.  Matthew 12: 46 has Jesus’ mother and brothers wanting to talk to Him.  I think they stayed and were present for the teaching in Chapter 13 because 13: 53 has Jesus going to Nazareth, which is where I started the Third Block of Teaching.  Starting this section of the study in Chapters 9 and 10 would have Jesus answering John’s disciples’ questions without the Twelve by His side.  Other notable things in this section are – the Pharisees saying Jesus has a demon and crediting the healings (things of the Spirit) to the works of the Devil, Jesus telling people not to talk about their healings, and Jesus’ habit of using parables explained.

In the NIV the main section of teaching on the Kingdom begins and ends with lessons using the word “every”.  This frame starts with “every kingdom, city, or household that is divided” (12:25) and ends with “every teacher who knows about the Kingdom” (13:52).  The main feature in this section is parables, especially since Jesus explains three of them.  After forty years of studying the Bible and listen to sermons, it is clear to me that parables grow with you.  New insights should not erase the old but add to them.  It also gives you a framework to use when someone teaches a different concept from the parable.

Having said that I will start with Matthew 13:52 and the portion where the homeowner brings out old and new treasures.  This verse takes me to Jeremiah 6:16 and Matthew 11:10, which is about John the Baptist. My rendering of Jeremiah from the NIV is – stand and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask for the good way, and walk there and find rest.  (This will be another blog.)  The message of the Kingdom started in the Garden, it is not new!  We may use new methods to present it, but that old message is the only place where we will find REST!  John’s (old way) baptism allowed people to believe Jesus and His two “new” commandments – Love God and Love your neighbor!

There are eight parables in this set of teaching.  Seven of them are linked directly to the kingdom of heaven.  Three are explained by the Master Teacher and two of these deal with the future and are restatements of each other.  I suggest a deeper study and a good concordance and Bible dictionary to get the most out of them!  As was His habit, Jesus explained them to His close disciples, which is why we get to hear what Jesus saw as important in them.  So, your ideas need to fit in His framework for the parable of the Sower, the Tares, and the Net!

The Parable of the Sower is not introduced with “the kingdom of Heaven is like”.  Jesus brings in the Kingdom in His explanation to the disciples – Matthew 13: 11 and verse 18.  Mark 4: 10 clearly states that Jesus was alone with the disciples when He explained it to them.  To add a layer into this great parable, I can see references to the people in this block of teaching!  The Pharisees are the path, the non-compliant blind men (Matthew 9: 28) are the rocky places, Judas Iscariot is among the thorns, and the Eleven are the good soil.

The parable of the “good seed and the tares (weeds)” (13: 24) is again explained to the disciples at a “quiet time” and is restated in the Parable of the Net (verse 47).  Western thinking gives you an idea of weeds, but not how serious “tares” really were to the crop and harvest.  Tares or zizanion (#2215 in Strong’s) are a darnel or false grain.  They resemble wheat or barley as they grow and then they produce a deadly crop of black seeds that can make you sick or cause death.  That will put a whole new layer on the teaching of that story!  The timing of the “harvest” and getting rid of the “bad fish” from “the net” may mess with your idea of the rapture, ask for wisdom and peace.

The mustard plant (Sinapis nigra) is another “seed” parable.  My Strong’s/Vines Concordance gave me a “new” look into this parable.  So, instead of focusing on the seed look at the plant!  The birds “of the air” roosting in its branches may not be a good thing.  That idea does pair with the tares and the first three groups of seeds in the Sower.  If the birds are the “world” they are just using the Church, which sounds a lot like Psalm 74: 4.

Extra Thought

The first three parables in this set all deal with seeds!  Focusing on these as a cohesive block of teaching, it starts large and goes small.  The Sower is the general spreading of the Gospel, the Good Seed/Bad Seed deals with the Church (good seed), and the Mustard Plant is a single seed.  “Bring out old and new treasures” with those ideas.    


Yeast is an “old treasure” for me, as I have written four previous posts on the topic – Passover, Model of Church Growth, Yeast, All Bad, and What I learned.  But musing on this again has given me a “new treasure”.  I have focused on the yeast and not on the dough.  Dough (flour) is a combination of many seeds ground together.  Add water and oil (Holy Spirit) the mixture is changed – sugar/starch content, smell, and size.  You could even put in some mustard for flavoring:).  

The remaining three parables in this set have a very different tone.  First, Jesus takes time to explain the Tares to the disciples, this should show a transition of places and time.  These seem to be given first to the disciples – they left the crowd.  I still think His mother Mary could have been there but Scripture does not say.  It is probably that these parables were recycled and told to future gatherings of people.  The Treasure and the Pearl seem to go to the individual believer and the Net deals with “good fish” and “bad fish”.  

In the Treasure and the Pearl, the response of the Man and the Merchant are the same – find something of value, sell everything, and buy what was of more value.  In contrast, these parables give two different ways people find the Kingdom.  The Man with the treasure found it by accident; while the Merchant was carefully looking for something and realized the Pearl was what he wanted!

In the Net, Jesus repeats, in different imagery, the parable of the Tares.  I want to think this was for His fisherman disciples.  If you have ever used any form of a net to catch fish, you know that there is a lot of movement inside of those cords.

the featured pic is from

Yeast – Before Passover

Yeast – Before Passover

“For seven days no yeast is to be found in your homes.” (Exodus 12: 19) NIV

God had prepared His people to be out of Egypt.  He had made the Egyptians weary of them and their God.  His Passover would be the final straw and He set the stage for them to go; He gave specific meal instructions.  It covered what to cook and eat and how it was to be done.  As Christians, we take a lot of symbolism from this meal and even more has come from Jewish traditions.  Getting rid of yeast is very important to the Passover Feast and is rich for us as Christians.  But why yeast!?

I like the spiritual lesson has in its post on Passover. (I am paraphrasing big time.)  The difference between crackers and bread is yeast.  It fills the dough with gas and makes it puffed up; while the cracker stays flat and humble.  Wow!  Yeast in most places of scripture carries a negative thought.

My question, “Why yeast” still stands?  Yes, we should take time and view our lives and houses and get rid of things that are not pleasing to God.  The Jews do this before Passover and they are serious about it.  How would these first participants in Passover make that connection when all yeast had ever done is make their bread rise?  For the most part, we Christians will say that yeast symbolizes sin, but Jesus compared yeast to the action of the Kingdom of God.  I believe that He would ban it on what it would come to shadow, but I also think more has been at play here.

In Exodus 12: 34 the people took their dough in the kneading troughs wrapped them in extra clothing and moved quickly out of town.  My second thought of “why” is the speed of their departure.  Adding yeast and letting it rise in order to bake can take time.  By the text, it sounds like they were leaving quickly and God knew they would be on the move for several days.  Flatbread cooks quicker than yeast bread.

A third “why” could be the Egyptian cult worship that involved yeast?  The frog goddess Heqet was also involved with yeast.  It was a bread-making/ beer cult and could have been one of the deities that Israel had become involved with. (See Frogs in the Bible)

Yeast in itself is not bad and could be used the rest of the year, but for this time period, it did pose a problem.  It could be one or all three of these or it may be something else, but for the trip out of Egypt, it had to go.  Please see my other posts on yeast: What I Learned From Studying YeastYeast, All BadYeast, A Model of Church Growth.

Take Away – A more “modern” custom that Jews may do in preparations for Passover is selling their yeast.  I see it as a picture of what Judas did to Jesus.  Jesus became our sin (yeast); Judas tried to give the money back but was refused.  Yes, modern Jews can buy back their yeast products after Passover.

Bible and Science-Yeast, A Model of Church Growth

Bible and Science-Yeast, A Model of Church Growth

Matthew 13:33 “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”(NIV)

To understand this passage we need to look at how yeast grows. Yeasts are eukaryotic and can divide by a process called budding. (Most cells divide into two even-sized cells.) In budding a small uneven sized pouch of cell material forms on the “mother cell.”yeastS_cerevisiae_under_DIC_microscopy In this pouch go all of the organelles and other chemicals that are needed for it to live; since it is eukaryotic DNA also goes into the bud. The mother cell has given the bud everything it needs to live on its own including the reproduction information – DNA. The bud may stay attached to the mother cell and actually start its own bud. (Under a microscope I have seen several of these all strung out from the mother cell.)

Churches may grow the same way. The church can send out a few people who are equipped with everything needed to start and grow a new church. (Personal Opinion: I see Hillsong Church growing in this method around the world.)

∞Jesus, let me be like Isaiah and say, “Lord, send me.” Isaiah 6:8

pic from

Bible and Science-Yeast, All Bad?

Bible and Science-Yeast, All Bad?

Leviticus 23: 17 Bring two loaves of bread baked with yeast as a wave offering.

Mark 8:15 “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

Most of the time when yeast is mentioned in the Bible it is connected with sin. The references to the loaves of bread at Pentecost (see Happy Birthday Church of Jesus) and the kingdom of heaven (God) is said to be LIKE yeast (Matthew 13:33) are the only positive references. Scripture does not tell us why yeast has gotten this labeling. The Israelites could have it for baking their regular bread but it could not be used for bread connected with any offering or feast (except Pentecost).

yeastS_cerevisiae_under_DIC_microscopyYeast lives by breaking down sugars. Carbon dioxide, which causes bread to rise, is one product and the other is alcohol. Yeast may be found on all kinds of surfaces but they will live on the outside of fruit and grains; this is why they will naturally spoil and ferment. God knew/knows this He made them. But these facts should not have them be connected to sin (my reasoning here). Some yeast is considered “good” and some are termed “wild.” The wrong yeast in a batch of beer or wine and you do not get the specific taste you are wanting. So bread makers and brewers are particular about what they put in their wares.

After reading a lot of literature on the subject here are some ideas as to why yeast may be connected with “bad.”

  1. It works unseen and affects everything it is in.
  2. The smell could be associated with something dead.
  3. It may give a sour taste to the bread.
  4. Egypt had cult worship related to bread and beer.

I am leaning to #4 as the reason because Father God did not want anything Egyptian imported into His worship. The Israelites had enough problems with this so why add another thing like yeast in bread.

∞ Father, let me spread good in Your Kingdom.

pic from

Pentecost-Happy Birthday Church of Jesus

Pentecost or fifty days after Easter is the end of a time period known as “Counting of the Omer” and for the Jews, it is the time period they remember the Exodus to the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai.  For the Christian, it marks the birth of the Church and the giving of the Holy Spirit.  The Hebrew letter Nun the fourteenth letter of the Jewish alphabet represents Pentecost, which means fifty. Jesus during the Resurrection had shown Himself to the Disciples and had taught them about His Kingdom.  After forty days He ascended into Heaven leaving them ten days to seek Him about this promised “Holy Spirit” that was to come.  You have to wonder if they fully understood what Jesus was talking about or what was about to happen?  Had Jesus explained that when the Holy Spirit came that they would walk in a new anointing and power that had not been experienced by that many people before? In Leviticus 23: 15 – 22 the observance of Pentecost is described.  The main offering is the “firstfruits” of the season that is two loaves of baked bread that are to be waved before the Lord.  The unusual thing about these loaves is that they are to be made with yeast.  Normally offerings brought to the Temple were to be yeast-free as it is a type and shadow for sin.  As the Hebrew4Christians website notes these loaves represent the Jew and Gentile being presented to God as firstfruits.  In one parable found in Matthew 13: 33 and Luke 13: 20 yeast is compared to the kingdom of God.  (Yeast is a living organism that serves a purpose in a sense they give what they are in life!  Instead of sin maybe it is the type of yeast you are using!) PentecostActs 2: 2 + 3 tell about the “sound of a violent wind” and “what seemed to be tongues of fire.”  Other than God can be dramatic if He wants to be, maybe they symbolize the ram-horn trumpets and the fire for the burnt offerings that had to be made on Pentecost.  I have wondered if the Disciples really knew what “wait for the gift my Father promised,” meant?  They had seen Jesus operate in miraculous power but you wonder if they thought it would show up like that? I know that many who are Christians do not claim a “Pentecostal” experience is valid for today.  Many make fun of it just as the Disciples were accused of being drunk but Peter dispelled that idea immediately (2:15).  His closing comments in Acts 2: 38 + 39 talk about the “gift” (the one they had been waiting for) and says that the “promise is for you and your children and those who are far off” so that should include everyone since the first Pentecost and I did not notice that the “gift” was going to change in any way.  Think about the gift of Pentecost!