Summary: This is my fourth sermon in the series and looks at how we are to be productive as we act as God's kingdom here.
It seems strange to mix the sacred with the everyday, to describe the eternal with the ordinary, the infinite with the finite. And yet that is exactly what Jesus did when looking for a way to illustrate the Kingdom of Heaven, a treasure in a field, a merchant looking for a pearl the tiniest of seeds growing exponentially larger. And now he looked across the beach as the fisherman who called Galilee their home cast their nets artfully across the water.
“Look” he says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like fisherman.” Not! This is the first time that I’ve preached on this passage but I have read it time and time again. And I could have sworn that the Kingdom of Heaven was like a fisherman. Funny that, probably because I had been a fisherman it made perfect sense to me. But Jesus didn’t say “the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fisherman” instead what he said was Matthew 13:47 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that is thrown into the water and gathers fish of every kind.”
This is week five of our summer series The Kingdom of Heaven is Like. . . And we are looking at the 8 times that Jesus begins a parable with the words the Kingdom of Heaven is like
A parable of course is a brief, succinct story that delivers a moral lesson. You might be thinking that sounds like a fable, true but if you pause and think about fables for a second you will realize the main difference between a parable and fable is that a parable usually uses people as an illustration whereas a fable often uses talking animals as the illustrative point, crows, foxes, hares and tortoises.
In their broadest form a parables have been called extended metaphors, which is completely different than a mixed metaphor where you start with one premise and end with a unrelated premise. For example those of you who are old enough might remember Zapp Brannigan from Futurama who once said “If we can hit that bull’s-eye then the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards... Checkmate.”
And if we combined the different instances where Christ began a statement with the words the Kingdom of Heaven is like . . . and tried to make sense of; a treasure being like a mustard seed or a pearl being like a fishing net we might think Christ is mixing his metaphors but instead he is drawing a much larger picture using parables that are not only metaphors but also similes. You remember what a simile is right? A comparison using “like” or “as”.
You have probably noticed the inuksuit around the property as well as on the banner over the worship centre door, on your bulletin and this wonderful creation on the platform. That is the very type of thing that Jesus would have tied in to his discussion of the Kingdom if he had been teaching in Nunavut instead of Palestine. In June we started our series with the statement, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like an Inukshuk.” And we looked at how the Inukshuk illustrates how we were to function as God’s Kingdom on earth, first it was used by the Inuit as a landmark in the Northern terrain that was devoid of landmarks.
It wasn’t possible to give directions by physical characteristics in a land that had very few physical characteristics, there was no oak tree to turn left by. So an inukshuk would be constructed at a point that was being marked. Travel until you come to the Inukshuk made of eight stones.
And so as we live out the Kingdom of Heaven here we are to be moral landmarks in a culture devoid of moral landmarks.
Don’t you hate getting directions from people who have been in an area a long time. “Just drive down til you come to the house the Miller’s used to live in and turn left, then drive past where the old oak tree was, the one that was hit by lightening and they had to cut it down a few years ago.” Unfortunately as the church compromises and believers look more and more like everyone else those moral landmarks are sometimes like the old oak tree that was cut down, what used to be.
And the Inukshuk was used to provide direction, when you get to the inukshuk made of eight stones follow the short arm until you come to a small inukshuk that looks like a seal. And the church, functioning as our part of the Kingdom is to provide direction to our culture. In the Old Testament we will find statements like Judges 21:25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. But the church is here to provide direction, to say this is the way to go if you are looking for God, and this Jesus is the way if you are seeking eternal life.