Summary: I this message I deal with the fact that God accepts us exactly where we are and uses whatever we have for his glory. This is a profound teaching by Jesus. The kingdom comes in small, almost unnoticed ways. But it never ends there.

“Little is Much with God”

Matthew 13:31-35

From the OT all the way through to the book of Revelation we find story after story of God’s plan for us. There are stories of battle, there are love stories and there are stories children love. When Jesus came on the scene He came as a teacher. 73 times we see this word (teacher). 73 times we see this word used in the gospels. He was creative...He knew exactly how to speak to the people of His day but the amazing thing was that everything He said still speaks to us 2000 years later. Without question He was the greatest storyteller who ever lived. One of the styles he used was to teach in parables. He told at least 55 different parables. The word parable comes from the Greek and means “Para”-next to or alongside of and “ballow” to cast. It means to place beside something else. Jesus used parables by placing something that is familiar beside something that is not other words He would compare two things-one we understand and one we do not understand. Jesus used something people could see to explain something they could not see so that they could understand the unknown. At first the disciples really didn’t get it and they came to Jesus and said why do you speak to the people in parables? He said in Matthew 13:10-15 ....

Both of these parables tell us about the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven was promised in the OT and then was ushered into existence with the birth of Jesus. When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven He is speaking about God and Christianity and Heaven and Judgement and all of these things God relates to and He tells us what He has in store for us.

If we are honest we would admit that we sometimes have questions about God and about our faith. Unbelievers also have questions and they’re not so different. They ask what is God like? What is Heaven like? If I accept Christ...if I become a Christian what will it be like? Jesus answered all of these questions–He taught extensively on all of these topics and He used parables to do so.

Now in the text today He tells two parables, both with the same message first using one of the smallest seeds known to people in that day..the mustard seed. How many of you have ever seen mustard seed? Well for all of you, especially those of you who have never seen one, if you look at your teaching notes today-closely-you will see one. Even for a seed it’s small but Jesus takes this tiny seed and He tells us some important things about the church.

Now the mustard seed has always been used for flavoring food. It is used as a spice. When planted it can grow to a height of 10-15.’ The mustard seed Jesus referred to is very similar to the mustard seed we are familiar with but specifically He was probably referring to the black mustard seed. It grew wild in that area. It was not an uncommon sight to see these roadside trees filled with birds because they also loved the seeds that the tree would produce and they would find shelter there.

The disciples were very familiar with this image. They were also familiar with the images that are behind this scene. In the OT one of the most common references to a great Kingdom is that of a tree. Ezekiel said these words:

Ezekiel 31:5-6 So it towered higher than all the trees of the field; its shade increased

and its branches grew long, spreading because of abundant waters.

[6] All the birds of the air nested in its shade, all the beasts of the field

gave birth under its branches; all the great nations lived in its shade.

This great tree which refers to the nation of Egypt-this tree towered above all the other trees around it. It prospered and grew thick branches because of all the water that was there at it’s roots. The birds nested in it’s branches and in it’s shade all the wild animals give birth to their young. All of the other great nations lived in the shadow of Egypt. What does this mean? Jesus was pointing out to those who were listening that the Kingdom of Heaven was beginning right there and though it’s beginnings were small, all of that would soon change.

This is a profound teaching. The kingdom comes in small, almost unnoticed ways. But it never ends there. We think of that little town of Bethlehem...some shepherds, 3 wise men...the angels and how God used a tiny baby named Jesus to change the world. Now Jesus is planting a seed to tell the disciples that it is this little group of men who would continue to change the world...they must have looked at Him and said, you talkin’ to me?

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