Luke: Mustard Tree and Yeast

Read: Luke 13:18-21

Jesus asks two rhetorical questions in the form of two short parables to help us imagine what the Kingdom of God is like. For His answers, He uses the tiny mustard seed and the small amount of yeast required for bread to make His point. Both serve to highlight the depth and breadth of the Kingdom of God. Both affirm our small efforts to make disciples one or two at a time. Small efforts needed to make a huge impact.

Mustard Seed

It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches. Luke 13:19

For $9.99 you can buy 10,000 mustard seeds via Amazon Prime. Can you imagine? Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed, “a” seed, as in one. That’s all it takes to grow this incredible tree for many birds to call home.


It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough. Luke 13:21

My dad was a baker for many years, in the food business most of his life. Way back in ancient times, I would go with him to one of the Krispy Kreme stores he managed to “help” make donuts. They used 100-pound sacks of flour and sugar along with 1-pound “bricks” of yeast. Some of you are imagining the Hot Now signs, but they didn’t exist back in my youth. I’ll never forget sitting down with a fresh donut and cup of chocolate milk as a kid. Talk about sugar rush!

Later, when he had his own bakery, Southern Living magazine asked him to post some of his favorite recipes. I know he was excited since this is one of the premiere magazines in the south, an honor to be included. The only problem was he had to make the recipe in a home-sized kitchen. For most of us this isn’t an issue, but for my dad, scaling a 1-pound brick of yeast to a 2-1/4 teaspoon packet was a tall order. And, this is really funny to me, dad never cooked at home! (ok, “never” might be a stretch, certainly “rarely”). I remember his lament over scaling down recipes. Of course he figured it out and was able to share some baking secrets, but that’s really not the point of this post — I just couldn’t resist talking about my dad. He really was a great father.

Back to the parable. While dad might have used processed bricks of yeast, 2,000 years ago, I’m pretty sure this was not available. To make His point, Jesus includes sixty pounds of flour, a huge amount! That would make enough bread for an entire village. In comparison, the weight of the yeast would be a small ingredient, but the bread would be nothing without it.

Working the yeast into the dough takes time, it’s not an instant process. The hard work is worth the prize if the yeast is worked into every nook and cranny of the dough.

The small mustard seed and the tiny amount of yeast all remind me that my work with just a few is significant. Plant your small seeds with faith that God will grow into an amazing tree. Work your yeast thoroughly, give the bread time to rise, and enjoy the fruits of your labor when it’s ready.

I can smell the bread now. How about you?


Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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