Summary: The Kingdom of God might be look small like a mustard seed, but it is potent and valuable. We must "sell everything" to attain it.
Small But Priceless: Your Kingdom Come
Matt. 13:31-33, 44-46 July 6, 2003
Joanne, Thomas and I spent most of our vacation in the US, in the Columbia River Gorge between Washington and Oregon. We had a good time! It has been a while since I was in the States, and I really noticed a change. For the first time, I really felt like I was in a completely different country. Their were flags everywhere – on houses, in vehicles, on stores – far more than we see in Canada. Their were signs everywhere too – “Support our troops!”, “Buy US grown fruit and vegetables and support our farms!”, “Proud to be American!” Now I know Americans wouldn’t like me using the word “kingdom” to describe their country, but in a very real way I felt like I was in a different kingdom from what I was used to.
Over the course of the summer, I want to explore with you another Kingdom that we might find quite a bit different from where we live – the Kingdom of God. There are quite a few instances where, as Jesus was teaching, He would say: “The Kingdom of God is like…”, and would then tell a parable illustrating one aspect of what the Kingdom of God is like.
We believe that we are living in the Kingdom of God already. We have been talking about that over the past several months – how the Kingdom of God is the reign of God, and to the extent that we seek this Kingdom and choose to live in obedience, we experience that reign and that Kingdom in our lives. We recognize a greater fulfillment after this life – we look forward to living completely and without opposition and without hindrance in the eternal Kingdom – that is a great source of encouragement and hope which we should not feel shy about holding onto. But we also recognize that we begin living in that Kingdom here and now as we seek to let God reign. It is basically like the eternal is invading the now.
And so I want to take a deeper look at what this Kingdom of God looks like – how it works – what that means for how we live.
Expectation v. Reality:
As we jump into the four parables I want to look at today (don’t worry, they are each only a verse or so long; and together they make only two main points…), we need to begin by recognizing the context. The Jews were desperately waiting for the Kingdom of God. They had great expectations – great anticipations of what this Kingdom was going to look like and was going to do for them. They believed that it would be a great and mighty Kingdom, that it would come in great and sudden power, and that it would put all their enemies under their feet and deliver them from oppression and servitude. They thought this would come with the raising up of an earthly leader who would lead them all in battle and dominate the world, as David had done, perhaps even accompanied with a mighty heavenly deliverance such as the nation knew under the leadership of Moses. The Kingdom was going to be one of power and might – it would be unmistakable and would unsettle the entire political landscape of the world.
But Jesus had a different idea in mind…
All four of the parables I want to look at are recorded in Matt. 13. The first two are back to back in vs. 31-33, and they make the same point – a point radically different from the current Kingdom expectations. read
Those of you who like to garden or who like to bake bread can identify with the images Jesus is using. Jesus says the Kingdom is like a tiny, almost un-noticeable mustard seed. Easy to miss – easy to ignore. Certainly not impressive as you look at it in its present form. Yet, contained within, is life. And given time and the proper conditions, it will grow into something which is definitely noticeable and impressive, and useful.
So also with the yeast. Yeast is an organism, again minute and un-noticeable. Easy to miss, certainly not impressive. Yet again, contained within, is life. And if we take just a small amount, and knead it into a large amount of flour, it will work all through the dough and cause the loaf to rise. It will have a huge impact far beyond it’s size.
Jesus says that is what the Kingdom of God is like. It starts small. It takes time. It grows from within. And it permeates and changes and benefits others all around.
What does this mean for you?
How do you react to that? Jesus says the Kingdom of God is not going to parachute into our world like a mighty army, designed to shock and awe our adversaries and overwhelm them with a grand show of might and power. It isn’t a case of a snap of the fingers and everything is different. It isn’t a 60 minute galactic confrontation to which we have front row seats. It isn’t march into a place where people don’t know Jesus and call everyone together for a 3 point sermon followed by a couple of miracles and then bam – everyone goes home saved. Instead, it is like a mustard seed. It is like a little bit of yeast.