It is natural for the mustard seed to grow into a bush. In this parable, Jesus describes one that has grown unnaturally into a large tree. He goes on to say that the birds of the air are found in its branches.
Many interpret this to describe a great and miraculous growth of the Church universal. However, as I studied, I firmly believe Jesus is describing a Church that has many claiming to be a part of it when really they have no place in it.
The invasion of false converts began when Constantine used the Church to further his goals of conquest and power. Christianity went from a prohibited pursuit to become the popular pastime. I believe this is the type of happenstance Jesus was speaking of here in Matthew chapter 13.
Another Parable (13.31a)
· Consistent ideas
· Consistent messages
A Sown Seed (13.31b-32a)
· Small beginning
Ø whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice (Zech. 4.10 ESV)
· Seeds yield mixed fruit: tainted by the enemy
An Unnatural Growth (13.32b)
· Mustard seeds: grow bushes, not trees
· Misused Gospel: perverted, overshadows true Church
· Misnamed "faithful": unbelievers considered Christian
Ø Rome example
§ 33% (2.1 billion) of world "Christian"
§ 1.1 Roman "catholic"- not a Gospel church
§ world sees RCC as the face of Christianity
· false gospel: works not grace/tradition equal to Scripture
· pope is vicar (substitute or replacement) of Christ
An Unnatural Habitation (13.32c)
· Birds: earlier Jesus defined as "the evil one"
· Nests: entrenched, dwelling among God's people
Ø So-called evangelicals within 'Church,' but anti-Gospel/Wolves in sheep's clothing
§ emergent churches/ ministers
§ liberal churches/ministers
§ word/faith ministers (prosperity gospel)
Conclusion: "All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: 'I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.'"(Matthew 13.34-35)
Surely, this is a description of the wheat mixed with the tares, or the sheep and the goats. The true Church is not tainted. God will bring about the separation in His time. For now, we must be aware that there are false brothers, false sisters, deceptive teachers, insincere preachers and prophets that prophesy lies. We ought not be surprised- Jesus warned us ahead of time.