Summary: Have you ever noticed that when God works, He seldom works the way we expect Him to? Would you expect God to move someone to Utah so they could find Christ? Yet that’s exactly what He did with some of you. How many times do we expect God to act one way
September 26, 2004
THE WAY OF KINGDOM GROWTH
Have you ever noticed that when God works, He seldom works the way we expect Him to? Would you expect God to move someone to Utah so they could find Christ? Yet that’s exactly what He did with some of you. How many times do we expect God to act one way only to see Him act another?
It was no different for the disciples. Those first disciples knew who Jesus was. Jesus was Messiah. Jesus was their King. And because those first disciples knew who Jesus was, they also knew exactly what He was going to do and how He was going to do it. They’d read their Old Testaments. They’d studied all the prophecies. They knew what Jesus had come to do! Jesus, the King, had come to establish His Kingdom. He had come to stomp out sin and sinners. He had come to rescue His people Israel and rule the nations from Jerusalem. Jesus had come to conquer. Jesus had come to kick tail!
Of course the disciples were right. Jesus had come to establish His kingdom. Jesus had come to conquer sin and sinners. Jesus had come to rescue His people. He just hadn’t come to do it the way they expected Him to. It started out well enough. As expected, the ministry of Jesus was spectacular. It was God’s power on parade. Jesus healed sick people. He tossed demons around without breaking a sweat. He silenced a storm. He walked on water. He fed multitudes with bottomless baskets of food. He even made dead people live. This was the power that would conquer the Romans. This was the power that would bring all the religious leaders to their knees. In Christ, the kingdom had broken into the world. And the disciples knew—in Christ, the kingdom was about to overwhelm the world. Or not.
As the ministry of Jesus unfolded, God wasn’t doing things according to plan. Yes, there were plenty of miracles, but the lasting impact of those miracles was small. Yes, there were multitudes of people, but very few willing to follow Christ. The bang of the kingdom was beginning to fizzle. And by the time we reach Matthew 12, the King and His kingdom weren’t transforming the world, they were being rejected by the world. The religious leaders rejected Jesus as Satan’s boy and the crowds followed their lead and refused to believe. The kingdom was going bust! Or was it? That’s the question Jesus answers in Matthew 13:31-33. In the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the yeast Jesus reminds his disciples—and us—that, while God always does what He promises, seldom does He do it in the way we expect it to be done.
Follow with me as I read Matthew 13:31-33. Matthew 13:31-33 reads, He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”
He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all though the dough.”
When the kingdom of God came into this world, the disciples expected it to come hard and fast. When God became man in Christ, they expected Him to overthrow both Rome and the corrupt religious leaders in Jerusalem. In just a matter of months, they expected Jesus to be sitting on His throne and they expected to be reigning with Him. In the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast, Jesus tells them, “that’s not the way it’s going to be.”
Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven doesn’t blow into this world like hurricane Ivan blows into the Florida panhandle. The kingdom of heaven doesn’t explode on the scene fully formed. No! The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.
In other words, in this world, the kingdom of heaven begins small. In fact, the kingdom starts out so small Jesus says it’s like a mustard seed. It’s barely visible. It looks insignificant to anyone who sees it. But like that tiny mustard seed grows into a large shrub or a tree that’s 12-15 feet tall, the kingdom of heaven far outgrows its small beginning. In fact, the Bible tells us that in the end God’s kingdom will fill the earth and provide shelter to all who seek forgiveness and refuge in Christ.