Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
So here we go again, Jesus talking about more seeds. To be honest, I’m tired of seeds. I’ve been talking about them for two weeks now, and since I’m not a fan of gardening, I can no longer think of any other way to tie gardening into this sermon.
Three weeks ago, we talked about the environment in which we allow the seed of God to grow. What sort of soil do we live in that gives the seed of God the best chance to bear fruit within us?
Last week we talked about the harvest, and how we are given a chance to become fruitful plants, to change from the weeds we sometimes are and become plants which are suitable for being harvested by God and brought into his household.
This week, we talk about the mustard seed. But we also talk about a few other things as well. There’s also the yeast in the bread, the treasure in the field, and the pearl of great value.
There’s something in common with all of these. They are small.
The mustard seed is a tiny little seed. So small, yet it grows into a pretty big bush. They can grow to 8 to 12 feet tall, and as Jesus says could be a place for birds to nest and take refuge from predators.
Then there’s the yeast. I ask you bakers out there, how much yeast to do you need? Not very much, right? A little goes a long way when you talk about using yeast.
For the treasure in the field, how easy can be that to find? There’s always the adventure, the mystery, the desire to show we can solve the problems of where the treasure was hidden. It causes me to think about the mystery of Oak Island down on the South Shore. If you aren’t familiar with it, there’s this island not far outside of Chester, Nova Scotia, where legend has it some sort of treasure is buried on the island. People have spent a lot of time, money and energy trying to figure out the riddle of where this treasure may be for over 200 years. Still they haven’t found a thing.
And the pearls, we can’t forget the pearls. A pearl hunter is searching for the perfect pearl. Looking and looking, just like the treasure hunter until he finds his own treasure in the perfect pearl.
So this is what the kingdom of heaven is like Jesus tells us.
Two examples of something small have a large impact, and two of something small having great value.
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. The kingdom of heaven is like yeast. The tiny mustard seed grows into a great bush. It protects the birds who take refuge in it. It creates shadows to protect from the heat of the sun.
The yeast is a crucial ingredient in the bread. Without it, even though you use so little an amount, it’s not bread. It won’t work without it. It’s not the same thing.
These two little things, seeds and yeast, are supposed to be like the kingdom of heaven. How does that work? What’s the connection here?
These little things show that a little bit of the kingdom goes a very long way. The kingdom of heaven can do great and wonderful things, even in small quantities. And you know what? Jesus says, those who follow him, they carry a piece of the kingdom within them. There’s a bunch of times in the Bible where Jesus says the kingdom of God is near. And when we call on Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we receive the gift of the kingdom. When we let Christ come into our lives, we are part of the kingdom.
And if we feel we are too small, or too weak, or our faith isn’t strong enough, or we aren’t smart enough, or we don’t know enough of our Bible, Jesus is showing us those excuses aren’t good enough. Even if our faith is small, the kingdom of heaven is in us, and great and even unexpected things can come out of it.
So what of the treasure and the pearl? What do these things have to say to us today? In both examples, the searchers looked and looked until they found what they were looking for. Their finds we so valuable, so expensive that they sold everything they had just to get possession of them. These are the kingdom of heaven.
The kingdom of heaven is so valuable that people will give up all the have in order to get it. Once you find it, you’ll stop at nothing to make it yours.
This causes me to think about examples of people in the media. There are people out there who work so hard at become rich and famous, in whatever way they can. Whether from bucking down and working their way up the ladder to the top, or they work at holding onto the coattails of their name or connections they may have already at the top. People want to be known. They want to be famous. Most of all, they want to be rich and live that kind of lifestyle. (*this sermon was written before the death of Amy Winehouse, another tragic death of a young talent who spent time fighting with personal demons)
But what often comes of it? A long line of failed marriages. News stories of drug and/or alcohol related offences. Crashing their expensive cars. Burning through their money faster than they can bring it in? For what? So they can buy that next great thing to make them happy.
It’s a vicious circle a number of them end up living in. They buy things to make them happy. They get bored of it. So then they need to buy more. And then more. Well, that doesn’t seem to be working any more, so then maybe drugs and alcohol will fix it? This is when they end up in the news.
But the kingdom of heaven is far more valuable than any of this. The kingdom of heaven is such a great treasure that you will have no need for any of these things. Nothing is greater than knowing the love of God shown to us in Jesus Christ. Nothing on this earth can compare, and those of you who know it, you know what a life changing experience it can be when you find this priceless treasure. Some of us find it early in life, as if it’s always been there. Some of us find it later in life, after a time of searching. No matter which way you’ve come to know the love of God, hold onto it, don’t let it go. I suspect it’s not an easy thing to let go of!
So the little item that can grow into great and wonderful things; the treasure that is worth more than anything we can find on this whole entire earth! These are examples of the kingdom of heaven.
Where do they bring us to?
The final example in Jesus’ message for us today tells us the kingdom of heaven is also like a net being cast into the sea. This net caught fish of every kind. Big fish. Little fish. Colourful fish. Ugly fish. Fish that is good for you. Fish that’ll make you wish you never got in the boat.
The net is pulled to shore with all these fish. The good fish, the ones you can eat, they’ll be put into baskets for later. They’ll be kept safe. The other fish, the ones that’ll make you sick, they get destroyed. They are not fit to be kept. So the net, the kingdom of heaven, it collects them all. But it only keeps the good ones.
These tiny treasures we’ve discovered, the little things, the unmeasurable treasures we’ve found, these are what make us worth keeping. When we find God in our lives, when we live out as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are kept. We belong to God.
The alternative is spelled out pretty clearly.
So when we seek to be one with God. When we welcome Jesus Christ into our lives, we are finding a tiny treasure. We are receiving a gift far greater than we could ever imagine.
All else will pale in comparison.
There will be no question as to whether we will leave the things that we don’t need behind. It will just happen naturally. We’ll no longer want to have the things which are not helpful in our walk with Jesus Christ, we won’t have time for them. We won’t have much interest in them anymore, because we are holding a treasure.
A treasure worth giving up all else for.
A treasure that is from our God. Our God who will bring us home when He calls His children to his heavenly kingdom.