Summary: An Expository Message On How God Works Mightily Through Small Things.
Luke Series #65 May 19, 2002
Title: Is Bigger Really Better?
Introduction: Welcome to New life in Christ. I believe that the Word of God is vital to developing and equipping healthy Christians and a healthy church. It is the Word of God that keeps us from error and discouragement, also enabling us to live in the center of God’s will. In Psalm 1 the Bible says that those who delight in the Word of God and seriously think about it day and night will be strong and prosperous, like a tree planted by the water. I believe the Word is invaluable and this is why I study and teach you the Bible verse-by-verse. This morning we are continuing in Chapter 13 of the Book of Luke in our verse-by-verse teaching series out of that book.
Today I will be teaching from a very short passage, only three verses, but do not mistake the size of the passage for the important of the passage!
Read Luke 13:18-20
Let me start out this morning with a little quiz. What is the world’s biggest mountain? (Mt. Everest) What type of tree is the tallest? (Redwood) Who is the world’s richest man? (Bill Gates) What is the longest chapter of the Bible? (Psalm 119) Well you have done very well at the quiz so far but it is not quite over. What is the world’s smallest mountain? (Mt. Greylock) What type a tree is the shortest? (Dwarf Willow 5cm when full grown) Who is the world’s poorest man? (Jed Matthews owes 22.4 million and has no assets due to bad investments in an Internet company) What is the shortest chapter of the Bible? (Psalm 117 with only 2 verses)
You didn’t do as well on the second half of our quiz, but I didn’t really expect you that you would. The quiz was obviously given to prove a point. The point being that people tend to recognize, respect and remember those things in life which are the largest, most grandiose, numerical, etc while we tend to give little thought to the small and seeming insignificant things.
In nearly every aspect of our lives we tend to adhere the motto: “Bigger is Better.” We now drive vehicles known as SUV’s (in the military we called them tanks) because bigger is better. We are not satisfied with Wal-Mart but look for a Super Wal-Mart because bigger is better. We can even Supersize our meal at McDonalds because bigger is better.
Is bigger always better? No, not when it comes to spiritual things. Jesus uses these 3 verses to correct our thinking about bigger being better in spiritual things and God’s work. He does this because we tend to hold to the thinking that bigger is better in spiritual things like we hold to that thinking about worldly things. We tend to believe that more people, more money, bigger ministries and buildings, more programs, and greater talent will result in greater effectiveness at God’s work. We often think that God is doing more and can do more where there is something going on that looks grand and marvelous.
At the same time we tend to think the opposite about smaller things. We act as though God is not working or could not work though smaller churches and ministries, lesser talent, and fewer programs. “If it isn’t big, God must not be in it” would be an accurate representation of some people’s thinking and feeling.
These types of thinking affect our attitude and our actions. Our zeal, confidence, evaluation, commitment and expectations are often based on size and significance! Therefore it is vital that we understand and accept by faith the message that these two illustrations are intended to convey. The main point that Jesus is making here is that God works mightily through small things.
God Works Mightily Through Small Things.
In verse 18 Jesus asked, “What is the Kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to?” The expression “Kingdom of God” is a broad concept that is difficult to define simply. In general it refers to the rule of God and the establishment of His purposes. It may be used in a spiritual sense where God is working in the hearts of people or in some cases the expression refers to a physical kingdom that God will establish in the end times. In this context I believe we could accurately paraphrase this question like this: “How can I describe to you how God works to establish His rule and purposes in the world?” The answer is that God uses small, insignificant things but with great and far reaching results.
God Works Mightily Through Small Things.
In verse 19 Jesus says that God’s working is like a “mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.” The mustard seed, which produces leaves from which mustard is derived, was known for its minuteness. It is very, very small. In fact it would take 20,000 mustard seeds to weigh just one ounce. Because of its size the mustard seed was used proverbially for anything that was small and insignificant. Kids of that era probable called each other “mustard seed brain.”