Hopelessly Devoted: Luke Chapter Thirteen Verses Eighteen through Twenty One

This devotion comes from Ethan Richardson. He said therefore, ”What is the kingdom of God like? […]

Mockingbird / 8.3.15

This devotion comes from Ethan Richardson.

He said therefore, ”What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” And again he said, ”To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.” (Luke 13:18-21, ESV)


When asked what God’s kingdom is like, Jesus says it is like a seed that grows into a tree, and that it is also like leaven, or yeast, that gets hidden in some flour.

Two properties come to mind. First, God is interested, and has been for some time now, in trees. Adam and Eve ate from the tree at the very beginning—the tree of knowledge. Jesus “hung upon a tree” to bear the sins of the world (Acts 5:30). And, when it is all said and done, God’s people will live under the shade of the “tree of life” (Rev 22:2). Now there are plenty of good theological things to say about trees: trees give protection, they bear fruit on their own, they are powered by the sun. But instead of these great qualities about trees, Jesus is more concerned with the fact that trees are planted seeds. The kingdom of God—God’s operative structure—is like a very small seed that is buried under ground, that in some way dies, and then brings forth an entirely unforeseen (and very large) purpose.

When Jesus talks about yeast, something he quite likes to do, and its connection with God’s kingdom, he focuses on the detail of its hiddenness and its pervasiveness. Everyone knows you don’t need a whole lot of yeast to make a loaf of bread rise, but Jesus is also saying that the yeast is invisible—it is literally “hidden in” the flour. That is to say, there’s no telling where God’s handiwork is or isn’t, until it’s already risen to the fullness of its purpose. Only then do you see that it was everywhere all along. Maybe this has something to say about only seeing things clearly in retrospect…

So have you wondered where God’s been lately? Has it felt like a dry spell? Do you feel lost? Here, in the mysteries of things buried and hidden, Jesus says this is probably evidence of God’s pervasive handiwork.