sermon: God’s Kingdom and It’s Small Beginning Matthew 13:31-35

Truth Taught- The Kingdom of God starts small and then grows until one day it is universal in magnitude. 

Introduction

Today we are looking at two very short parables tucked away in between the passages we looked at last time.  Our Lord is teaching us truths and realities of the Kingdom of God that we who have ears to hear would miss if it weren’t for these parables.  
So far from the parable of the soils we learned that the Kingdom of God is made up of those whom God has called and prepared.  They are the good soil that receives the seed of the Gospel, grows and produces fruit.  

We also learned last time from the parable of the weeds that within God’s Kingdom now there is wheat and tares growing together in the world and it will be at the last day the field will be harvested and the weeds thrown into the fiery furnace and the wheat gathered into God’s barn.

So, at the end of the age there will be a separating of those who are God’s from those who are Satan’s. 

 

Jesus is teaching us about the Kingdom of God in its beginning stages.  God calls people out of this world to be His people to serve Him as King.  We are still sinful although growing in Christ likeness.  Now in this world the Kingdom of God is not complete yet, we are growing next to lost people.  We ourselves struggle against sin and their influence but who can also influence them and be a light for them.  This isn’t the completed Kingdom of God; we are just in the beginning stages.

Here are some truths from today’s two parables: God works in small things and God’s Kingdom begins very small and seemingly insignificant.  

Jesus tells us these two parables so we won’t miss out because the Kingdom now looks small.  We must remember God works in small things.

Jesus’ disciples had to be reminded that God works in small things and that the Kingdom begins very small because their human expectations were often flawed and faulty.  God’s Kingdom would not be a superpower at first but have a small beginning.  It remains small even now compared to what it will be one day when our Lord returns.  We too need to be reminded, don’t we, that God’s Kingdom even though it may look small even now will one day be universal and all powerful.  We know from God’s Word there will be a New Heaven and a New Earth one day.  We know that there will be the Garden of Eden remade with the Tree of Life being planted in the New Jerusalem.  We know that the Nations of the earth will serve God and all will be made new…but not yet.

This is what Jesus is teaching us today.  Be encouraged beloved because the seed has sprouted and is growing.  Be encouraged that the yeast is beginning to work.  Be encouraged because this is exactly as God has planned.  The governments and kings of this world cannot stop God’s plan from moving forward exactly as He has determined…God laughs at their efforts.


Psalm 2:1–12 (ESV) 

Why do the nations rage 

and the peoples plot in vain? 

   The kings of the earth set themselves, 

and the rulers take counsel together, 

against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 

   “Let us burst their bonds apart 

and cast away their cords from us.” 

   He who sits in the heavens laughs; 

the Lord holds them in derision.

   Then he will speak to them in his wrath, 

and terrify them in his fury, saying, 

   “As for me, I have set my King 

on Zion, my holy hill.” 

   I will tell of the decree: 

       The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; 

today I have begotten you. 

   Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, 

and the ends of the earth your possession. 

   You shall break them with a rod of iron 

and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” 

10    Now therefore, O kings, be wise; 

be warned, O rulers of the earth. 

11    Serve the Lord with fear, 

and rejoice with trembling. 

12    Kiss the Son, 

lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, 

for his wrath is quickly kindled. 

       Blessed are all who take refuge in him. 


God laughs at all efforts, policies, laws, and decrees that go against His Word.  He laughs because they will not last.  One day in God’s Kingdom sin will be no more and the lawless and vile will be judged.  However, for right now we live next to them and must fight against their influence.  Be encouraged, God’s Kingdom starts small…

Matthew 13:31–35 (ESV) 

31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” 

33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” 

34 All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: 

       “I will open my mouth in parables; 

I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.” 

1.  The Smallest Seed

31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” 

These words were very good words for Jesus’ followers to hear while He was with them.  Their mindset may have been that of confusion.  They had seen Kings and Kingdoms before.  They had read about King Solomon and all his wealth.  They had read about the Queen of the South visiting Solomon and gifting him with much gold.  These were the Royal Kingdoms they had in mind when Jesus began telling them that He was a King and they were His Kingdom…

Our Lord wanted to remind them not judge the seed by its size.  Don’t judge My Kingdom based on its small beginning.

The Mustard Seed is the smallest of all cultivated seeds in Israel.  It’s technically an herb that the farmer plants and in one growing season becomes the largest of all herbs even considered to be a tree.  Some grow as tall as 15 feet and birds do build nests it its branches.  

Jesus tells us this is how the Kingdom of God works.  It too had a very small beginning.  It too may have been considered insignificant because of its size.  But now it’s beginning to grow.  One day it will be universal, encompassing the entire globe.  

Beloved, don’t be discouraged God works in the small things.  

I’ve seen Mustard Seeds from the Middle East, they are smaller than the periods in your Bibles.  

Jesus, no doubt was drawing from the Book of Ezekiel

Ezekiel 17:23–24 (ESV) 

23 On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest. 24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.” 

The birds in Ezekiel of every kind is a reference to Gentiles.  The birds in Jesus’ parable too are the Gentiles who will find their homes within God’s Kingdom.  This Kingdom will grow and when our Lord returns it will encompass the entire earth.

We must not forget, Jesus could have enlisted the great crowds to begin His movement but instead entrusted this infant Kingdom to His disciples who had ears to hear and eyes to see…what the Kingdom would be one day.

2.  The Smallest Pinch of Yeast

33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” 

Here in Jesus’ second parable we see why both stories go together.  They are teaching us the same principle about God’s Kingdom.  God’s Kingdom starts very small and its growth is unstoppable.  The Mustard Seed’s growth is amazing.  It begins very small and grows so too the Kingdom of God is like leaven.
When you put yeast into a lump of dough the entire lump will become leavened.  In fact, many times there is a small bit of dough that is leavened and all it takes is a pinch of the leavened dough placed and kneaded into the large lump of dough and the entire batch is leavened.  The yeast permeates the entire lump.

Bakers of old had to be very careful to not let their dough become leavened or it would soon turn bad.  The yeast makes the dough so it needs to be baked very quickly or it will go bad.  
All these principles were in the minds of the disciples when Jesus explained to them God’s Kingdom.  We too need to remember that God’s Kingdom starts with just a pinch of yeast, just twelve disciples and one day the entire planet will be leavened with the full effects of God’s Word.

Things start small and grow.  The Church, for example, is not made up of the top 100 wealthiest people in the world.  Its made up of people saved by grace.  We don’t look very powerful.  God purposely refuses to build His Kingdom using earthly success.  This is His pattern all through the Bible.  God tells Gideon you have too many people to win the battle, God sends David the shepherd boy to fight Goliath, God send His people in as grasshoppers and Jesus often turned the crowds away while teaching just twelve.  God works with small seeds and a small pinch of yeast to build His Kingdom.  We must not be discouraged but remember God’s Kingdom is moving along exactly as He has planned. 

God’s small things are unstoppable.  

We see China in the news a lot these days with some trying to promote them as the best way people could live.  China is an atheistic, communistic nation who hates God and seeks to eradicate the Gospel.  The greatest power in the world has set itself up against God and against His anointed.  For the past 50 years that nation has fought against Christianity…God laughs.

Did you know that when China became communistic and kicked out all the missionaries seeds were planted in China.  Now there are millions of Christians in China.  You see the Mustard Seed is growing, the baker’s dough has been infected with yeast.  We’ve been hearing of viruses coming out of China, China cannot stop the virus of Christianity that has entered.  God’s Kingdom is growing in China and as hard as they try, there is nothing they can do about it.  Christians are killed in China.  Christians are enslaved in China but as Paul wrote, God’s Word is not chained.

2 Timothy 2:8–13 (ESV) 

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for: 

       If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 

12    if we endure, we will also reign with him; 

       if we deny him, he also will deny us; 

13    if we are faithless, he remains faithful— 

for he cannot deny himself. 

Matthew wants us to see another reason Jesus began teaching in parables…

3.  Things that Were Hidden are Now Revealed

34 All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: 

       “I will open my mouth in parables; 

I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.” 

Matthew tells us that Jesus is speaking almost entirely in Parables.  We have learned why.  


Matthew 13:14–16 (ESV) 

14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: 

       “ ‘ “You will indeed hear but never understand, 

and you will indeed see but never perceive.” 

15    For this people’s heart has grown dull, 

and with their ears they can barely hear, 

and their eyes they have closed, 

       lest they should see with their eyes 

and hear with their ears 

       and understand with their heart 

and turn, and I would heal them.’ 

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 

Now, Matthew tells us there is another reason.  Not only do parable teach wondrous truths to those with ears to hear, things otherwise hidden, but they also teach us who Jesus is.

“I will open my mouth in parables; 

I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.” 

Here, Jesus quotes from a Psalm of Asaph the seer or prophet.  Asaph is recounting the history of Israel for the next generation to understand.  Jesus too will explain things hidden from old.  Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of One who explains history to us.  Not just events but their deeper meaning.  Jesus will not simply teach His followers Israel’s history but He will teach them Theological History.

Numbers 21:8–9 (ESV) 

And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. 

John 3:14–15 (ESV) 

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 

This is exactly what Jesus is talking about.  He will show His disciples and show us the real meaning of spoken and recorded prophecy and even historical events in the OT.

Who has the authority to tell us what God’s Word really means?  God does.  As redemptive History moves further along Jesus teaches…

Luke 24:44–45 (ESV) 

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 

Matthew’s point is the Inauguration of the Kingdom is here because the King is here.  He alone has the authority to tell us about the Kingdom.  He does this through Parables just like the OT said He would.
Jesus is the King of God’s Kingdom I pray we are obeying the King and are getting ready for the Kingdom in its fullness…the seed is growing and the leaven spreading.  Are you ready to meet the coming King?

*Resources Used:

Matthew by D A Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary

A Theology of Matthew by Charles Quarles

A Gospel of Matthew by France

Matthew by Craig Bloomberg

Matthew by Doriani

Matthew by Charles Price

Matthew by Leon Morris

Blue Letter Bible

Commentary on the NT’s Use of the Old by Beale and Carson

Matthew by Hendriksen

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