Matthew and Luke both put the story of the mustard seed alongside this second parable in which Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened” (Matt 13:33).
Bread was such a major part of the daily diet that it was present at every meal. Every home would have a measure of leaven. The leaven would be added to the dough, then covered and put away. It would get to work immediately, spreading through the mixture and changing its volume and flavour. The leaven had a positive influence on the flour, changing it from the inside.
Jesus wanted his listeners to know that, the power of heaven, living within the sons of the kingdom, can influence and change others for the better; growing and expanding the Church.
That being said, Jesus also felt it necessary to warn His disciples, saying, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). Not all influence is good. It could be and indeed, it should be but, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. The Pharisees had a responsibility to the people but these leaders had wandered so far from the path and had become absorbed in the power of their position. Their behaviour angered Jesus and at one point He called them blind guides. These were Holy men who taught the law but didn’t practice what they preached which meant that their influence caused more harm to the Jews than good.
We need to pray that our influence, within God’s Church, is always for the good. An influence that draws people in. An influence for positive change.