Seeds of the Kingdom

Home Church Service 4/24/2021

These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.

He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES.” He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”                               Matthew 13:31-33 (NASB)

We are on a journey through the book of Matthew, in a series titled The Kingdom of God. In our introduction to the series, we began our look at the Kingdom by examining Heavenly Pursuits. Our Heavenly Pursuits takes our focus from our daily needs and places it on our eternal needs. The spiritual Kingdom of God is at hand now, but it must be sought to be found. In our Heavenly Pursuits we are to seek the righteousness of God – it is the key to our eternal home and without it – we remain locked out!

Last week we learned there is An Enemy at Work who has sown carnal Christians next to spiritual Christians and though both have heard the same message, the carnal Christians are deceived. Because this enemy has caused the carnal Christian to grow next to the spiritual Christian, there must come a day of separation at the coming of Christ. Both have grown together and have been fed at the same time, but deception sends the carnal Christian to destruction.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic people, now more than ever, have begun searching for someone or something to make sense out of life in our world today; someone or something to bring order out of the chaos and unity out of the division we are facing; someone or something to give them hope when it seems hopeless. It is more important now, perhaps than any time in our history, for the church to begin planting Seeds of the Kingdom.

The kingdom of heaven is like the mustard seed a man sowed in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, a full-grown mustard seed becomes like a tree, larger than other garden plants. So too Seeds of the Kingdom grow large enough to nest all who come to its branches.

When a mustard seed is planted it is the smallest of all seeds, yet it grows to become like a tree, larger and stronger than other plants. Seeds of the Kingdom begin small, yet they too grow to a size large enough to offer a home and protection for all who come.

In this message we ask and answer the question, “What is the purpose of Seeds of the Kingdom?”

The purpose of Seeds of the Kingdom is to be planted, grow strong and bear fruit.

1). The first thing we must understand about Seeds of the Kingdom is they must be planted if they are to grow.

The simplest of all first steps, regardless of how small the seed, is to plant the seed where it can grow.

We are all familiar with seeds, from apple seeds to watermelon seeds we have seen, or at least heard of, a variety of different seeds. We are familiar with why seeds are important, for without seeds a new crop of the fruit and vegetables we enjoy, will no longer be available. We all know we need to put the seed in the soil for it to grow and produce fruit. When a seed is put in the soil, or planted, it begins to germinate. Germination is the process where the seed changes from dormancy, being a single seed, to becoming a living plant that bears fruit.

There are three vital elements that must be present when planting seeds. Water, air and warmth are needed for the seed to germinate properly and begin to grow. Water causes the pod to swell and burst, allowing the water to reach the seed embryo. Water is essential for cellular respiration, the process that gives the seedling energy through the nutrients carried by the water, until it breaks the surface of the soil. Oxygen must be present for the seedling to grow beneath the surface of the soil, explaining why it is important not to plant the seed to deep.

Temperature is the third important ingredient in the growth of the seedling. If the soil is too cold the seed will simply go back to sleep or become dormant. If the soil is to warm the process is accelerated too quickly and the nutrients cannot support the rapid growth. For most plants the ideal temperature is between 60- and 75-degrees F.

In our passage today, Jesus uses the example of the mustard seed. There are 40 different varieties of the mustard seed – the three most common are the black, brown and white seeds and they most typically go into recipes and to make mustard. Mustard seeds are the second most used spice in the world next to peppercorn. The mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds measuring a scant 1/10 of an inch! They are round and can be eaten or used in recipes, black seeds being the most popular in the Middle East and Asia where they originated. Black mustard seeds have been used since 3000 BC and were used extensively in the Roman Empire.

There are two types of mustard plants, the mustard tree and the mustard bush. All parts of the plant are edible including the seeds, leaves and flowers – it is an annual plant in the same family as the cabbage and turnip. They are native to North Africa, parts of Europe and Asia. We will look first at the mustard tree. The mustard tree grows to heights of 5 to 6.5 feet tall and typically last for one season. The leaves, known as mustard greens or leaf mustard, are said to be a favorite of many and found to be especially tasty.

The mustard bush is likely what Jesus is talking about in our passage. Before going further let me just say I have double checked this research and I DO NOT have the terms reversed. The mustard bush, found in North Africa, is used for feeding livestock and medicinal purposes. The mustard bush typically grows to a height of 13 feet with a 20-foot spread of leaves. This helps explain why the mustard seed is held up as a symbol of strength and can-do attitude. From its humble beginnings of 1/10 of an inch, it grows to a height that towers above other plants.

Do you see the picture of the kingdom of God a bit clearer now? If the mustard seed is not planted, it remains just a seed, a small seed at that measuring just 1/10 of an inch. Once planted it begins the astonishing journey to the grown height of 13 feet, providing a home and shelter for the birds of the air. Consider the humble beginnings of the kingdom of God on earth. From 12 men, men who were just plain old common folks, the religion known as Christianity has grown into the largest movement known to the world. And God is not done just yet, there is more to come! Had the Seeds of the Kingdom not been planted the movement would have died out as soon as it started. Had the Seeds of the Kingdom not been planted perhaps none of us would be here listening to or reading this message.

The purpose of Seeds of the Kingdom is to be planted, grow strong and bear fruit.

2). The second thing we must understand is that Seeds of the Kingdom continue to grow and bear fruit for all who come.

Once these seeds begin to grow, the growth cannot be stopped until the time of harvest.

Now that we understand the amazing growth of the mustard bush, we can grasp a bit better how the birds of the air come to nest in its branches. Let us start first with the birds of the air. This is an illustration Jews were very familiar with, it is found in several places in the Old Testament to show the coming of the Gentile nations into the kingdom of God. Jesus also used sheep, John chapter 10, to help illustrate this point as well. The kingdom of God was never meant for a single group of people. Yes, the Jews were and remain the chosen people of God, that has not and will not change. But the point Jesus is making is the kingdom of God is big enough for ALL people.

These birds are said to come and nest in the branches of the tree. Meriam-Webster defines nest as a bed prepared by an animal; a place or modified structure to serve as a home for animals, especially in the young stages of life. But it is also defined as a place of rest, retreat or lodging. This is a place to call home, a place to provide shelter and protection. Gentile nations were generally considered to be living outside of God and His blessings. Now Jesus says the kingdom is open and available to all who would come. The activity of the mustard seed is to grow to astonishing heights – so too the activity of the kingdom is to grow to astonishing size and greatness.

The Jews knew that the coming of God’s kingdom would bring a change to the order of the things in the world. The trouble was the Jews were expecting a Messiah with military strength to come and change things visibly and immediately. The arrival of Jesus did not produce those expected results!!! We are to learn the same thing from this parable that the crowd back then was to learn – not to allow the present, invisible form of the kingdom to fool us.

Jesus uses yeast or leaven to once again illustrate the growth of the kingdom. Scripture typically uses leaven as a negative symbol of evil or sin. Here Jesus reverses this thought in an attempt to prompt the crowd to understand the presence of the kingdom. These two parables work together to illustrate the kingdom in the ministry of Jesus. The mustard seed illustrates the humble beginnings which grow to astonishing external height while the leaven illustrates the invisible penetration and transformation of the kingdom.

The fruit of the mustard bush is the bush itself. All parts of the bush are edible and before it is harvested the bush provides a home and protection for the birds who come and nest in its branches. Likewise, the fruit of the kingdom is the kingdom itself. It will continue to grow as the fruit it bears plants more seeds and those seeds grow into fruit, it is a never-ending cycle, only stopped at the time of the final harvest.

So, we must learn this lesson well, the apparent smallness of the visible kingdom should not fool us or be a cause for concern or alarm, for we have yet to see the greatness of the kingdom yet to come. While it is true that it appears as if the entire world is against Christianity and things associated with Christ Jesus, we must keep our focus fixed on Jesus and not the storm around us. The story is not complete, the ending has yet to be written.

The purpose of Seeds of the Kingdom is to be planted, grow strong and bear fruit.

We are journeying through the book of Matthew examining The Kingdom of God, a kingdom that exists right now but must be sought to be found. We have seen how an enemy has planted bad among the good and how a day of separation must come at the end of time.

People are walking through life aimlessly, searching for something or someone to help them make sense of this crazy world and bring hope into a hopeless situation. Now is the time the church and its individual members must plant Seeds of the Kingdom.

What must we, as Christians, do as we move ahead in this crazy world in which we live? We must be the change we want the world to see. This means swimming upstream against the current culture. We love where the world says to hate; we bring calm where the world tries to create chaos; we show kindness where the world shows bitterness and contempt; we give hope when the world says it is hopeless.

We cannot be all things to all people but for those who are receptive to our kind words, loving gestures and humble attempts to bring peace to a world out of control, we can be the light that shines in the darkness that surrounds many these days. Remember to always, always point the way to Jesus Christ, the One who can be all things to all people.

Remain steadfast in your love for Jesus. Stay in the word, reading, studying and meditating on it day and night. Allow the Holy Spirit to be your guide and counselor as you walk through uncertain times. And through it all plant those seeds of the kingdom for you never know when that seed will begin to sprout and bear fruit.

We do all things for the glory of God!

Amen and Amen.

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