OceanSide church of Christ

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Part of the series: PARABLES OF JESUS
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Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20-21

Victor M. Eskew




A.   Some of Jesus’ parables were very brief.

1.     In our Bibles, they only consist of a verse of two.

2.     Such is the case of our parable for tonight’s study, “The Parable of the Leaven.”


B.    Two gospel writers, Matthew and Luke, record this parable for us (Matt. 13:33; Luke 13:20-21).


C.   Some believe that this parable is part of a pair, the other parable being “The Parable of the Mustard Seed.”


D.   Let’s read Luke’s account of this parable (Luke 13:20-21).


And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?  It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.


I.           LEAVEN


A.   What is physical leaven?

1.     Scientifically, it is a living organism, a unicellular fungi.

2.     Practically speaking, it is fermented dough.


B.    What is the purpose of leaven?

1.     It causes bread to rise.

2.     It makes bread spongy and soft.

3.     It gives bread a sweeter taste.


C.   How does leaven work?  Leaven “converts fermentable sugars present in the dough into gas carbon dioxide.  This causes the dough to expand or rise as gas forms pockets or bubbles.  When the dough is baked, the yeast dies and the air pockets ‘set,’ giving the bread a soft and spongy texture.”


D.   Where did we learn about leaven?

1.     Ancient Egypt

2.     Probably by accident – Flour meal mixed with water was left out too long on a warm day.  When baked, the bread was lighter and tastier than normal. 

3.     From this, experimentation began.


E.    Leaven in the Bible.

1.     Many times when the Bible speaks of leaven, it is in an evil sense, that is, having an evil influence.



a.     Two examples:

1)     False doctrine (Matt. 16:6, 12)


Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees…Then understood they how he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.


2)     Sin (I Cor. 5)

a)     The iniquity (I Cor. 5:1)

b)     The indifference (I Cor. 5:2)


And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.


c)     The influence (I Cor. 5:6)


Your glorying is not good.  Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?


b.    Some believe that the Parable of the Leaven is talking about the evil influences that would enter into and permeate the kingdom of God.

2.     Most, however, believe that the leaven is not evil, but is good.  Jesus said:  “It (the kingdom itself) is like leaven.”

a.     If the leaven is the kingdom

b.    And, if the leaven is evil,

c.    Then, the kingdom would be evil.  NOT SO!




A.   Leaven is designed to permeate the whole of a batch of dough.


B.    In like manner, the kingdom is designed to influence the world.


C.   Examples in the New Testament:

1.     The words of the Jewish council to the apostles (Acts 5:28)


Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should teach in this name?  and, behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.


2.     Paul’s influence in Ephesus and elsewhere (Acts 19:26-27).


Moreover ye see and hear that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:  so that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.




3.     The spread of the gospel in Rome where Paul was imprisoned (Phil. 1:12-13).


But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places.


4.     The faith of the Thessalonians (I Thess. 1:7-8)


So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.  For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not speak anything.


D.   There are three things that we possess that can be used to influence the world.

1.     The gospel of Christ (Acts 12:24; 19:20)


But the word of God grew and multiplied…So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.


2.     The good works of the church

3.     Individual Christian lives (Matt. 5:13-16).




A.   It only takes a pinch, a small measure, of leaven to influence an entire measure of dough.


B.    God still has small things that are powerful.

1.     The Word of God is a relatively small book, but very powerful.

2.     Some congregations are small, but are doing tremendous things.

3.     There are individuals Christians who are accomplishing great things for the kingdom.


C.   Zechariah 4:10


For who hath despised the day of small things?




A.   Colossians 1:23


If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.


B.    We need to be creative and seek every opportunity possible to spread the Word in our community and throughout the world:  gospel meetings, website, House to House, newspaper, seminars for outsiders, etc.





A.   Don’t measure growth and influence solely by visible results.

1.     Some influence is invisible and takes time.

2.     Publications can be read, set aside, and picked again later.

3.     It may take four or five acts of service before someone really begins to notice our Christianity.


B.    Do your part to be an influence.

1.     Give generously to the church.

2.     Participate in the local congregation so our neighbors and non-Christians around our building know we are seriously convicted.

3.     Pray regularly for the works of the OceanSide church.

4.     Look for and suggest ways that we can do even more for the cause of Christ.




A.   Leaven is a living organism that has a powerful influence upon dough.


B.    The only way to be an influence is to be living.

1.     The Word of God will always be alive.

2.     Churches can either be alive or dead?  Which are we?

3.     Christians can either be alive or dead?  Which are we?