– Jesus gives two Parables concerning the Kingdom of God. We tend to use that term and most don’t really understand it. What is it? Can you describe it? Where is it? Candidly, most people today are not familiar with the lifestyle of a Kingdom so they don’t really understand this.
– Kingdoms are still prevalent on the other side of the globe, and even more so in days past. They were and are built largely by force & what we know as imperialism. A Kingdom is not led by a president who is elected by and answerable to the people. A Kingdom is ruled by a monarch, a despot, an emperor, or a KING. His word is the rule of law. There are no elections, there is no congress, & no rule of the people; there is only the word of the King. The King’s rule & dominion is complete. History records many of these type of leaders; Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Hitler, & even Saddam Hussein. If you notice, most are known for fierceness.
– The Kingdom of the Roman Empire was in power when Jesus came into this oppressed world. Don’t forget, these were God’s people and they hadn’t heard from God in 400 years. Because of their sin, there was only silence from Heaven. They knew an answer had been promised & they were looking for God’s answer, for a Messiah, & a Savior. In their minds, the promised one had to be a political leader to replace Roman rule. The very reason they missed Christ was because they were looking for a human answer to a spiritual dilemma.
– Jesus took a great deal of time, preaching, teaching, and conveying the concept of the Kingdom of God that He was inaugurating. You get a clear picture of this in Matthew 13. Jesus desperately wants you and me to understand the Kingdom of God because God’s Kingdom is what life and eternity is all about.
– It began in a perfect place called the Garden of Eden and it will culminate one day in a perfect place called the “New Heaven & the New Earth” and God HIMSELF will be our God, dwelling with us for eternity. Now consider 3 thoughts:
A) THE REVELATION OF THE KINGDOM – This is one of Jesus great assignments. He was to introduce God’s Kingdom & clarify its spiritual nature. Think about His personal teachings about the Kingdom: Matt & Luke say He came preaching the Kingdom. In Mark He begins by teaching, the Kingdom is near. In John, He says you won’t see or enter the Kingdom unless you come to Him! It is all about being in and a part of the Kingdom of God. This was important because not only did it fulfill God’s purpose and plan, it resonated with the heartbeat of the average Jew.
– They were “Kingdom” minded. Culturally & historically the Jews desired political relief that could only come from a “Kingdom” change. They knew nothing of democracy, only Kingdoms. Yet, when it came to the Kingdom of God, they seemed to have a misconception.
– Today, it seems once again that there is a growing misconception about the God’s Kingdom. Think about the questions: Who is in it? How do I join? What are the guiding principles? How is it being built? Where is? The questions continue, but remember Jesus’ words in the model prayer: “Your Kingdom come.” Then, in Mark 1 Jesus says, “The Kingdom is at hand or near.”
– It is almost as if God’s Kingdom is a mystery or a secret which Jesus has to decode.
– So in verse 26 Jesus speaks to the question of “What shall we say it is like” and in verse 28 he turns to “What can it be compared to?” And He uses an every day, normal, ordinary, run of the mill picture to describe a divine secret. He begins by illustration.
B) THE ILLUSTRATION OF THE KINGDOM – For both illustrations He, once again, uses agriculture to illustrate God’s Kingdom. He is back to the sower, seed, & soil. Sound familiar? The sower, once again, sows the seed, the see falls into the soil, & the harvest comes. Any Questions?
– As followers of Christ, we can never get away from the “Seed.” We hold the seed in our hearts and hands. It is the word of God. This illustration is well-known and little lived. 3 thoughts.
1) Place for the Seed – It’s “on the ground” or better said, “In the soil.” Vegetable seed does little good if it remains in the barn, the bag, or the house and the seed of God’s word does little good if it only remains in your mind. Some will say, “I got you preacher, the Bible says, ‘your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you’.” Yes it does say that, but what is sin? In a word, it is ‘disobedience.’ The words of Jesus are clear – “As the Father sent me, so send I you,” “Go into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in,” and “You shall be my witnesses.” With respect, our Lord had left strict instructions for His children to sow the seed because HE KNOWS that if you don’t plant seed, you don’t bring in a harvest. And the harvest is an integral part of the “Kingdom building.”
– Please consider this truth in two dimensions. We are told to be a part of (actually, given the privilege of) building the Kingdom of God and at the same time being the Bride of Christ (which is a part of God’s Kingdom). So, are we? Are we going, are we sharing, & are we sowing the seed? Sunday school classes – how long since you made it a priority to reach & receive new people in your class. People no longer just show up. But it may be as simple as an invitation – and then when a guest arrives, not treat them like an outsider. What would it be like if every class had an external vision for reaching people? (weekly) How many seed would be planted in the soil (the hearts) of people? The place for the seed is the soil.
– One more thought here: As a member of this congregation, you have opportunity after opportunity after opportunity to invite people (thus, plant seed) – What are you doing with it?
– We do recognize that the seed we keep in our bag or barn will eventually rot or get diseased.
– How long has it been since you simply invited someone or shared your faith? Sowing seed!
2) Power in the Seed – Verse 27-28 paints us a wonderful picture which is the most amazing part of gardening. You don’t have to understand how a seed ‘works’, all you do is plant the seed. You follow up by watering it & making sure the weeds don’t overtake it, but basically, you watch it grow because the power of growth comes from inside the seed.
– You plant the seed in someone’s life and then you water & weed that seed by simply living the “Christ-life” in front of them. Living the Christ-life does not mean you ‘talk like you have four marble in your mouth’ or ‘that you only speak in parables’ or that you get weird (or in some cases ‘weirder’), it simply means you honor Christ in your daily life (which is what we are supposed to do anyway). By the way, our lives can throw seeds of tares, thorns, & briars if we do not honor God by how we speak, act, & live. So plant the good seed & water it.
– The power of the seed comes from its God given makeup. The Bible teaches us that for a seed to have the power of growth it must “DIE” to itself. When you sow the word of God into a life, many times it seems like the seed might be picked up by the ‘birds of Satan’ (remember those?), yet many times, it penetrates – goes dormant & then, as only seed can – it sprouts & it grows – and you don’t understand how but, thank God, it brings forth a harvest.
– Here’s one personal example: 35 years ago when I was a ‘Music & Youth’ minister, we had a high school boy that I’ll call Tim (name changed to protect the guilty). No matter what I did, he would not give me the ‘time of day.’ My last youth retreat there, Tim went. God got hold of his heart & today (for the past 20 years) He is a Pastor. Here’s the deal: I didn’t make the seed grow, my part was to plant – and water. God gives the increase and His Kingdom grows.
– The true power is not in a well-crafted sermon, well-planned SS lesson, slick youth ministry, or ever sharp worship service. The power is in the SEED. Thinking about the seed, consider “My Hope with Billy Graham.” You can plant the seed by sharing your story & observe the power!
3) Promise from the Seed – This is the big news about the Kingdom of God. The seed of God’s word “produces,” it produces “fruit,” & the fruit it produces is “good!” You can trust it to bring in a crop beyond imagination because God’s promises a harvest! Look in verse 31 & visualize.
– The mustard seed is the smallest seed in the garden. It starts small (a mustard seed), placed in the ground, and grows into a largest plant in the garden! Such is the word of God. The sower sows the word and when the word sprouts & blossoms, it grows into a Kingdom which is so large that it becomes a home for people. The Kingdom of God is made up of people, people who have been rescued from hell, changed from the old man of the old world to the new man of the new world, and have become a part of God’s family through the blood of Jesus. These are people living under the rule & according to the rules of the King, which is the King of Kings. His will be the ‘last Kingdom Standing” and you want to be in & a part of this Kingdom.
– As a part of HIS Kingdom, He expects you to be faithful to sow your seed (the word). If you are faithful to sow, He’ll be faithful to make it grow. He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9).
– Like the mustard seed, we may be a congregation small in number but that’s no excuse for slackness because we possess a powerful seed which holds the promise of great things! We’re a part of building God’s Kingdom, part of His team. We are the sower & if we sow–His promise is that the harvest will come because the seed will work. (Acts 2:39) “This is the promise for all.”
– IMPORTANT NOTE? If the seed aren’t planted, there is no harvest. And if there is no harvest, the souls of lost people will be eternally in the Kingdom of Darkness (HELL).
– His plan is for us, because we’re a part of it, to partner with Him in building the Kingdom.
– This Kingdom of God is made up of people who have been sown with the word of God, birthed in the family of God, & now sowing the word of God…Are you one?
C) The Culmination of God’s Kingdom – I sincerely see God’s Kingdom culminating in one statement found in verse 33. That is, “as there were able to understand it.” The Bible clearly teaches us that we see in a glass darkly and only know ‘in part.’ Even today, we cannot understand that height, depth, length, and breathe of God and His love (or His Kingdom). One day, those who know Christ will know as clearly as they are know and will see as they are seen. The culmination will occur with a sad situation in that many will be left out. For those in the Kingdom, eternity is bright and beautiful. For those outside of the Kingdom, it is eternal damnation in the fiery flames of the second death.