Friday, June 19, 2009

Leavening and Mustard Seed


Throughout the New Testament the Savior repeatedly teaches the people about the kingdom of God. Often He uses two or more examples at a time saying, “The kingdom of God is like. . .” and then goes on to give several metaphors. At one point he compares the kingdom of God to a grain of mustard seed which grows into a tree that houses nesting birds. He immediately follows that by saying the kingdom of God is like leaven which grows to make three measures of dough rise.

Often there are layers of interpretation in metaphors and there are in this one. When we look at the parable on the macro level we see the kingdom of God is the Church and the Book of Mormon is the mustard seed “planted” in the earth to come from the Hill Cumorah and “grow” to cover the earth. The interesting thing is that there is no such thing as a mustard tree. The mustard seed grows into a bush that probably wouldn’t accommodate many nesting birds. The Savior knew this. So what he is saying is that this tiny mustard seed (His kingdom) was going to grow into something far beyond expectations. It would be miraculous. And as we know, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon has spread the gospel in miraculous ways and the angels, like birds, now reside in its branches. The Church has also risen like bread to nourish all the people of the world who partake of it.

But there is another interpretation. Later we are told that the kingdom of God can also be in us. “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:20-21). Looking at the parable on this micro level we learn a different lesson. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines kingdom as “politically organized community or major territorial unit having a monarchical form of government headed by a king or queen” and “a realm or region in which something is dominant.” Thus we learn that if the kingdom of God is within us it has a king, Jesus Christ, and a dominant force, His gospel, within us. Both of these things, the mustard tree and the bread, begin with a tiny grain. What the Savior is teaching us is that all we need to do is plant the tiny grain and then make sure it is nourished by trusting and Living in Truth and then it will grow into a miraculous tree (something beyond our expectations) and into three loaves of bread that will nourish and sustain us—three being a symbol of the Godhead.

When the seed and/or the grain of leavening have grown, we can then offer others a safe and joyful place to reside and leavening so the kingdom of God can also abide in them.

8 comments:

Wendi said...

I'm so glad you're sharing this symbolism on your blog for people like me who aren't able to attend your class at Education Week. :)

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Wendi, Thank you. I'm glad you like it. Symbolism makes everything richer!

Martha said...

As I read the dictionary definition of kingdom here in your post(“politically organized community or major territorial unit having a monarchical form of government headed by a king or queen”) and I thought of that growing within us, I also thought of how we have the potential to be kings and queens ourselves! And how often in nature we see kingdoms within kingdoms within kingdoms. Wow!

Becky Rose said...

I loved the last 2 posts. I had no idea the rending of the veil was a positive thing. I thought it was negative, that the unworthy could now get through, that the temple was ruined. Thank you for clearing that up. Wanted to share a quote with you that goes right along with your living in truth idea and opposition in all things.

Both abundance and lack of abundance exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend . . . when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us happiness—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.

Sarah Ban Breathnach

Laresa said...

Great post! I have to say I love your quote Sarah. I posting that quote on my refrigerator. Thanks!

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Martha, Thanks for adding that! I hadn't thought of it that way and it is beautiful. Kingdom within kingdom! Yes, "all things testify of Christ!"

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Becky, I LOVE that quote. Thanks for sharing it. It really is true and she put it so well!

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Laresa, As I said above, it is a good quote! Hope you have a good day!