Summary: Even though the rich blessings God intends for us may appear to be of no more value than a seed or a handful of yeast we should not deceive ourselves.
Lectionary 17 A
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
This morning we heard a number of “One – Line Parables” that Jesus used to describe the Kingdom of God to illustrate how God’s power and authority is visible and expressed in our world.
Unlike the longer “Story Parables” like the Good Samaritan or the Prodigal Son, “One-Line Parables” begin with a phrase like “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…” and concludes with a common everyday activity or thing. For example: “The Kingdom of Heaven like a mustard seed that someone sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
Using language, objects, plants and what we humans experience in our everyday lives Jesus told “One-Line Parables” to describe for us the wonder and the excitement and the blessing available to us in the Kingdom of Heaven.
And so each of these “One-Line Parables” paints for us a picture of the Kingdom of God and offers us another glimpse into the reign of God because each picture by itself could not provide for us the height or depth of God’s Kingdom. Therefore each One-Line Parable gives us another opportunity to think about and wonder and enjoy the riches of God’s Kingdom.
Now, you may have noticed that after Jesus had finished His teaching about the kingdom of God He concluded His instruction by asking: “Have you understood all this?” to which the disciples responded “Yes!”
Now I have to admit that I usually smile when I hear the disciple’s reaction to this question because I wonder if the disciples really understood what Jesus was trying to teach them.
In fact, occasionally I wonder if the disciples even had a clue as to what Jesus was talking about when He used One-Line Parables. Even though the disciples said they understood I sometimes sense that they were too embarrassed to admit that they did not understand.
And so their reaction to the question that Jesus asked is similar, I think, to all the occasions when we laughed at a joke that we did not get and the times when we nodded our head in agreement to an explanation that we did not understand. For you see, Jesus used these teachings to challenge His disciples and us to see beyond how we normally perceive things and understand the world.
For example: Today we heard that Jesus told His disciples that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed or a handful of yeast. Now I think that you would agree with me that these items are not much to look at first but when we put the seed in the ground or mix the yeast with the dough the results can be astounding.
One mustard seed, planted in the ground, can produce a tree big enough
for birds to nest in and a handful of yeast, when mixed with flour, can produce a loaf of bread that we can use to feed our family.
And so even though the rich blessings God intends for us in this world and the next may appear to be of no more value than a seed or a handful of yeast we should not deceive ourselves.
For just as a seed can ultimately produce a large tree; and yeast when added to flour can create bread God’s blessings can enrich our lives and allow us to be a blessing to others.
And yet, due to our sinful condition, we do not always see the possibilities available to us in God’s Kingdom. And even though these tales of yeast and seed, treasure ad pearls are all very interesting, we may wonder what hey have to do with us.
But the “Good News” is that these “One –Line Parables” were meant to open our hearts and our souls to the vastness of God’s mercy and love and help us to understand that even the smallest seed of the Word of God, or the tiniest but of the yeast of God’s righteousness, can transform us.
And so our response today should be a prayer to God to instill in us the faith the size of a mustard seed, knowing that God can bring growth and treasure beyond what we know or understand so that our lives can be a picture to others of the love and mercy of our Father in Heaven.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, we give you thanks for the seed of your Word that you have planted in our hearts and for the yeast of righteousness that you have mixed into our lives. Help us, we pray, to value that which you have given us and to make following Christ the most important thing in our lives so we can do your will and share your love and Word that you have proclaimed through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.