Summary: Sermon for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost. How parables reveal the nature of God's kingdom.
Matthew 13: 31 – 33, 44 – 52 / The Kingdom of Heaven
Intro: I want you to pretend for just a moment that I am your own magic genie. But, I’m a very frugal genie and instead of giving you three wishes like most genies do, I’m only going to give you one wish. If you were given one wish, what would it be? --- a new car, a new house, good health, millions of dollars? I wouldn’t wish for any of these things. --- I would wish for 5 more wishes!
I. Jesus often used parables in his teaching. It was a way of engaging the people and getting them to think about what he was saying. VS. 31 – 33 contain 2 parables.
A. The first is about a mustard seed that grows into a tree in which birds come and nest. --- At the time of Jesus, mustard was considered a weed. It was the kudzu or salt cedar of that day.
B. The yeast or leaven in verse 33 is the agent that bloats and rots corpses and the very thing a women would clean from her house in preparation for Passover. Yeast is a symbol of corruption and impurity.
C. In these parables, though, yeast becomes the agent of the miraculous growth of God’s kingdom. If God can use mustard seed and corrupt leaven to grow the kingdom, imagine what God can do with you.
II. VS. 44 – 46 contain 2 more parables. These are only found in Matthew and focus on the value of God’s kingdom.
A. I had an uncle who would put large sums of money in coffee cans and bury them in his back yard. People at the time of Jesus did the same thing. VS. 44 Did the man do the honest thing by buying the field? It cost him everything he had.
B. VS 45 – 46 Pearls were at the time of Jesus valued not for their worth but for their beauty. People bought them just to hold, look at and admire. They were the “gazing ball” of their time. Was this man crazy to buy something just to hold and look at. This pearl cost the man everything he had.
C. The point is not honesty, integrity or sanity. What would you be willing to sell all that you have to possess? God’s kingdom is worth more than any possession you can imagine owning.
III. VS. 47 – 50 contain another parable that is unique to Matthew. It could be compared to the parable of the weeds among the wheat. Both tell of a sorting of the bad from the good.
A. People at the time of Jesus understood that Jewish law forbade the use of anything that did not fins and scales. They were considered unclean and unfit or bad.
B. The drag net (sagene) was thrown over a large area, allowed to sink and then was drawn to the land. Everything in front of the net would be drawn into the land. Then, the good, useable fish were kept and everything else was thrown back to the sea.
C. The kingdom of God must include all. God alone will judge between who is worthy and who is not.
Conclu: These parables are strung together like a beautiful strand of pearls. When we take them together as a whole, we begin to understand exactly what God’s kingdom looks like. It is a kingdom where everyone has value and is necessary. It is a place so beautiful that we would give everything we have, holding nothing back so we could be a part of it. The kingdom of God is a place where the message of Christ Jesus is shared without judgment or prejudice for it is only God who can really judge a person’s heart.
The church is the kingdom of God on earth. Is our church a place where everyone is welcome and valued? Is our church a place where we are encouraged to sacrifice our money and time to share the gospel of Christ Jesus with the community? Is our church a place where no one is judged for their actions or their lack of commitment? According to the teachings of Jesus here in Matthew, for our church to be a true representation of the kingdom of God in our community it must meet all these criteria.