Summary: The Kingdom of Heaven is present and is growing here on earth, and we are God’s vessel for expanding the kingdom.
Last week we looked at one of Jesus’ favorite teachings, the kingdom of God. We discovered the kingdom of God isn’t just something which will happen in the future when Jesus returns, but God is already in the process of building his kingdom, his perfect reign on earth right now. Jesus said “the kingdom of God has come upon you (Mt. 12:28).” The kingdom of God is right here and now. God’s kingdom is not geographical so you can say here it is or there it is. God’s kingdom is a spiritual kingdom which begins in the hearts of those who desire to give their lives to him and follow him. Jesus said the kingdom of God is within you (Lk. 17:21). It’s easy for us to look at what’s wrong with the world and desire for God to fix it so that it reflects his heavenly kingdom, but God chooses to change the world by fixing us first, changing our hearts through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit so that his rule, his reign, his kingdom begins with us. Once God changes us so that we are doing his will then He begins working through us, his people, to expand his kingdom throughout the earth.
Last week we learned from Jesus’ parable of the sower/soils that it all begins with a choice on how we will receive this Good News about God’s kingdom. Jesus used the analogy of a farmer sowing seeds onto four different types of soil. These soils represent how people receive God’s kingdom differently. Some are like the hard packed soil, like a hiking path or dirt road, they reject the seed and will not let it grow within them, in other words they are unwilling to accept God’s good news at all. Others are like rocky soil, the seed grows quickly, they receive the good news about God’s kingdom with joy, but they never grow roots, never get to know and grow in this relationship with God. Then there is the thorny or weedy soil which also received the good news but they still try to live in both worlds. They try to live in God’s kingdom doing his things his way, but they also try to live for themselves and refuse to get rid of sin in their life. But God’s kingdom and our kingdom can’t coexist and so God’s kingdom is choked out of us by our other lifestyle, and God’s blessings, his fruitfulness go with it. But Jesus said we can choose to be the good soil which receives the seed, the good news about Jesus and God’s kingdom and chooses to live for God, to get to know him, we allow him to have control of our life, we do things according to his perfect will as revealed in the Bible and by his Spirit. This kind of life is blessed by God with great fruitfulness, the seed grows and bears much fruit. Fruits like love, joy, peace, kindness.
God’s kingdom begins within me by my own choice on how I receive the Good News of God. But that is just the beginning. When we choose to become the good soil, the more the kingdom of God’s grows.
The Kingdom Will Grow Until it Fills the Earth
In the two parables this morning Jesus compares the kingdom of God with a mustard seed and leaven worked into bread. Both of these are very small almost imperceptible yet they both grow and expand. The seed, even as small as it is, grows into a large bush for the birds to build their nests. The leaven on the other hand is placed in a large batch of flour and worked in, and even though it is only a small amount, eventually the whole batch of dough is leavened.
How many of you ever had someone give you a bag of the friendship bread mix? After you got it you weren’t friends with them anymore, huh? Because once you got it, it was impossible to get rid of it. It comes in this ziplock bag and you squish it every so many days. In the bag is leaven. You are letting it ferment and squishing it to mix up the leaven. Every so many days you add more stuff like flour, sugar, and whatever else. Then eventually you would have a starter bag to give to someone else. That is like the leaven. They would put a small amount in but it would eventually mix into the whole dough to make it rise. On your way out this morning I have a bag of friendship bread for everyone. Just kidding.
Jesus’ point is clear, the kingdom starts off small, so small that it’s sometimes hard to see where God is at work, but his kingdom will grow and expand until every person on this earth is touched by God’s Kingdom. It doesn’t mean everyone will choose to be part of the kingdom but the Good News of Jesus and his kingdom will be proclaimed across the earth. In fact, Jesus said he wouldn’t return until after that happened (Mt. 24:14).