27 July 2014

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field ... The kingdom of heaven is like yeast ... The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.” (vv. 31, 33, 44)


The old adage says that small things make a big difference - and that is certainly the case in this narrative interlude in Matthew's Gospel. Prior to this passage, Jesus' identity has been challenged by religious authorities and his own family. He is keen to demonstrate that he is of the kingdom of heaven, rather than a prophet in the world. These parables and similes are part of this explanation.

The kingdom of heaven is a kingdom to which all are invited, but not all will understand or respond to. The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23) indicates that the path of discipleship is not straightforward and does not always have the outcome we anticipate.

Jesus then continues to demonstrate that seemingly small signs have great impact. Through mustard seeds and yeast, Jesus describes the kingdom of heaven as a place of hospitality and of life and sustenance. The kingdom of heaven is not a place of regulations and red tape, but a promise of life and welcome.

Throughout Scripture, bread is used as a metaphor for the kingdom of God. In the wilderness wandering of the Hebrew people, God provided manna for them - their daily, heavenly, life-giving provision (Exodus 16). Jesus himself declares that he is the "bread of life" (John 6:35). At the Last Supper (Luke 22:14-23), Jesus passed around bread and declared, "This is my body. Do this to remember me." In the exquisite gift of Eucharist, Christians take bread and remember that Jesus' death brings life through the kingdom of God.

In today's world, even small signs of the kingdom of heaven can bring transformation, life and welcome to those in need of freedom and grace. This is a very precious gift. Like the treasure buried in the field, it is a costly gift, but worth the energy and effort and loss in order to receive.

It takes one small thing to change the world; to bring life and welcome and to offer grace.

To Ponder

  • Watch this video - what strikes you from it?
  • What one small thing can you do today, to change the world?
  • Write your own parable: "The kingdom of God is like …".

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Joanne Cox-Darling

Joanne Cox-Darling is a Methodist presbyter currently serving in the Wolverhampton Circuit, where most recently she participated in a harvest festival in a farmyard, surrounded by a 'small' dairy herd of nearly 200 cattle. Joanne is the chair of the Christian Enquiries Agency ( - described by the Archbishop of York as the "possibly the easiest form of evangelism you will ever do".