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Summary: This is a sermon about Jesus parable of the mustard seed, and how it relates to the growth of the church.

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MUB

APRIL 17, 2005

LUKE 13;18-21

18Then Jesus asked, "What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19It 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."

20Again he asked, "What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."

ONCE AGAIN THIS MORNING WE ARE GOING TO LOOK AT A PARABLE OF JESUS. THIS IS THE PARABLE OF THE MUSTARD SEED. AGAIN, A PARABLE IS AN EARTHLY STORY WITH A HEAVENLY MEANING. JESUS SPOKE IN PARABLES FOR SEVERAL REASONS; SOMETIMES TO HIDE THE MESSAGE, OFTEN TO SPEAK IN COMMON LANGUAGE SO THAT PEOPLE COULD UNDERSTAND.

SEVERAL YEARS AGO, I ATTENDED A CONFERENCE WITH JOSH MCDOWELL. HE IS A VERY SMART MAN, VERY GIFTED, USES BIG WORDS, THEY ARE PART OF HIS EVERY DAY SPEECH. I WALKED OUT AND SAID, HE WAS WAY UP HERE, AND I AM WAY DOWN HERE IN COMPARISON. I WAS OVER WHELMED. LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING THAT YOU ALREADY KNOW. I AM NOT A GREAT SCHOLAR. I DON’T USE GREAT THEOLOGICAL TERMS. I GENERALLY TRY TO COMMUNICATE IN LANGUAGE THAT IS EASILY UNDERSTOOD. I DON’T USE $2.00 WORDS WHEN A 25 CENTER WILL WORK. WHEN JESUS TELLS THESE PARABLES, HE SPEAKS IN SIMPLE EVERY DAY LANGUAGE. IN MOST OF THESE PARABLES, HE DRAWS OFF NATURE. ITS NOT HARD TO IMAGINE, THAT WHEN HE SPEAKS OF THE FARMER GOING TO PLANT SEED, THAT PERHAPS, A FARMER PASSED BY ON HIS WAY TO PLANT SEED. HE TOUCHES US WHERE WE ARE.

VS 18,19, MUSTARD SEED, JESUS BEGINS THIS PARABLE IN THE SAME FASHION THAT MOST OF HIS PARABLES BEGIN. "WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD LIKE? WHAT SHALL I COMPARE IT TO?" REMEMBER, AS WE HAVE ALREADY LEARNED, THE WORD KINGDOM REFERS TO THE CHURCH. SINCE THE CHURCH IS NOT YET ESTABLISHED, AT THE TIME OF JESUS TEACHING, HE IS SPEAKING IN FUTURE TENSE. WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE. IN ORDER FOR US TO GET A BETTER PICTURE, JESUS DRAWS A COMPARISON FOR US.

THE CHURCH IS LIKE A MUSTARD SEED. A MAN PLANTS, IT GROWS AS LARGE AS A TREE, BIRDS OF THE AIR PERCH ON ITS BRANCHES. IN MATTHEWS ACCOUNT OF THIS SAME PARABLE, HE SAYS, THE MUSTARD SEED IS THE SMALLEST OF ALL SEEDS. SO, FROM THIS VERY TINY SEED, WE SEE THIS TREE BIG ENOUGH FOR BIRDS TO LAND ON.

IN TODAY’S LANGUAGE, JESUS MIGHT HAVE USED THE ATOM, TOO SMALL TO BE SEEN BY THE NAKED EYE, BUT, WHEN HARNESSED, IT CAN CREATE A BOMB WITH SO MUCH POWER TO DESTROY WHOLE CITIES.

CONSIDER; THE CHURCH OR THE KINGDOM, BEGINS ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST. 50 DAYS AFTER JESUS RAISES FROM THE DEAD ON EASTER SUNDAY. OF THE TWELVE MEN JESUS CHOOSES TO LEAVE THE CHURCH IN THEIR HANDS, TO START IT, TO LEAD IT, TO GROW IT. ONLY ONE, JOHN, IS PRESENT AT THE CRUCIFIXION. ONE HAS TAKEN HIS OWN LIFE, ANOTHER, PETER, WHO HAD BEEN GIVEN THE KINGDOM KEYS, TO UNLOCK THE DOOR, TO START THE ENGINE, HAD DENIED JESUS THREE TIMES. EVEN AFTER HE SAW JESUS AFTER THE RESURRECTION, PETER SAYS, I’M GOING FISHING. ANOTHER, THOMAS, SAYS, I WONT BELIEVE UNTIL I SEE HIS HANDS AND FEET. IT IS THIS SMALL GROUP, THE MUSTARD SEED GROUP THAT THE CHURCH BEGINS.

I ALWAYS FIND IT INTERESTING THAT GOD OFTEN USES SMALL INSTEAD OF LARGE TO DEMONSTRATE HIS POWER. WE OFTEN GET THE MISTAKEN IDEA THAT BIGGER IS BETTER. UNDERSTAND, I AM NOT KNOCKING CHURCHES LIKE SADDLEBACK OR GRANGER, THAT HAVE THOUSANDS OF MEMBERS, PTL, THEY ARE REACHING PEOPLE WITH THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. BY THE SAME TOKEN, WE SHOULDN’T FEEL LIKE WE CANT DO OR BECOME, B/C WE ARE SMALL.

LOOK AT ACTS 1;15, "PETER STOOD UP AMONG THE BELIEVERS, A GROUP OF ABOUT 120". THIS BEGINNING IS LIKE A MUSTARD SEED. BUT WATCH WHAT HAPPENS, PETER PREACHES ON PENTECOST, PEOPLE RESPOND TO THE MESSAGE. ACTS 2;41, "THOSE WHO ACCEPTED HIS MESSAGE WERE BAPTIZED, AND ABOUT 3,000 WERE ADDED TO THEIR NUMBER." WE HAVE GONE FROM 120 TO 3,000 IN ONE DAY. ACTS 2;47, " AND THE LORD ADDED TO THE CHURCH DAILY SUCH AS SHOULD BE SAVED." EVERY DAY, PEOPLE WERE GETTING SAVED, NOT JUST ON SUNDAYS, NOT IN REVIVALS, BUT DAILY.

ACTS 4;4 "MANY WHICH HEARD THE WORD BELIEVED, AND THE NUMBER OF THE MEN WAS ABOUT 5,000." THIS IS JUST THE MEN, NOT COUNTING THE WOMEN.

GO TO THE END OF CHAPTER 4;32, "AND THE MULTITUDE OF THEM THAT BELIEVED WERE OF ONE HEART" WE HAVE GONE FROM 120 TO 3000 TO 5000 AND NOW THEY ARE NUMBERED AS A MULTITUDE. ACTS 5;14, AND THE BELIEVERS WERE THE MORE ADDED TO THE LORD, MULTITUDES BOTH OF MEN AND WOMEN."

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