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The Kingdom From a Seed

Princeton Christian Church

Matthew 13:31-32 May 26, 2024

Jesus describes the Kingdom as a tiny Mustard Seed. This sermon explores what something so small could mean in describing something so majestic.

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Many of those classifieds are funny because somebody left out or misspelled one small word or phrase. Sometimes, it’s the things you don’t notice. Sometimes it is the unimportant things that have the greatest value.

In our text today, - Jesus tells a parable using one of the smallest of seeds known to the people in that day: the mustard seed.

Have you ever seen a mustard seed? I can’t say that I have.

In telling stories, Jesus used common items that people often saw every day (such as birds, flowers, and seeds) to describe spiritual truths and realities they’d never seen or would possibly never see.

No one had ever seen the “Kingdom of God” Jesus was describing, So He told parables like this to help people visualize it.

But why would He use an item like a mustard seed?

It was a small, insignificant, relatively unimportant seed. It wasn’t highly valuable.

It was useful for flavoring food, and its leaves were edible. Some people believed parts of the plant had medicinal properties if they were prepared properly.

But the mustard plant was also something of a nuisance plant.

Jesus calls it a tree here… but it could be considered a shrub. It grew sometimes to a height of 10’ to 12’, and its stem often could become the thickness of a man’s arm.

But it was still a shrub. And it wasn’t an overly attractive plant. In fact, at times, people regarded it to be more of a weed.

You didn’t dare plant it in your garden because it would crowd out all the other plants and take over everything else around it.

The mustard shrub—commonly believed to be the Black Mustard plant—sometimes reached heights of up to 15 feet.

In other words, the mustard plant could tower over people much like a tree would, and no doubt many Jews of that day may have called it just that—a tree. So, for Jesus to have called this shrub a tree would not have been an error in Scripture if it were commonly referred to by others as a tree.

The mustard plant was a common, ordinary shrub that had both things people liked and things they didn’t like.

I believe Jesus chose the Mustard seed (in part) because it was so small, so insignificant.

Thinking about Jesus’ use of something so common as a mustard seed, we see God's wisdom exercised over the foolishness and doubting of unbelievers.

Why did Jesus choose the mustard seed to represent His Kingdom?

Because God is always consistent: He "chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things— and the things that are not— to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him." 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

I’ve heard of churches that become the "in place" to be. All the so-called “important people" want to go there. All the influential people gather at its doors. Politicians and businesspeople go to that building because that’s where everybody else is.

It could be described as a mighty oak, a towering Redwood, or a spreading Chestnut tree because it has enormous influence and power in the community. But those churches often run into the danger of being a place where people go to see each other… but not to see Jesus.

Jesus didn’t want His church to be mighty Oak… He wanted it to be a humble mustard shrub. He doesn’t want people to go to church and be impressed by how important they are and how valuable the people around them are. He wants people to bow in modesty before His throne.

IN SHORT, he doesn’t want people to get excited about themselves. He wants them to get excited about what He can do through them… what He can do in their lives… and the changes and healing He can bring to them.

That’s part of the reason He chose the mustard plant to represent His kingdom. He wanted us to keep our eyes off of ourselves and our lives to be focused on Him.

But there’s more…

Jesus chose the mustard seed for His parable because of its size. He used it because even something as small as a mustard seed had miraculous power within it. Think about it. A seed – not much bigger than a pinhead - had within it the power to become a towering plant.

Now, if you’ve done much work out in the garden, you’ve grown used to the idea of being able to put a seed in the ground and watch the seed grow from a seed into a plant. You might not have thought much about it.

That is what is supposed to happen. You plant a seed in the ground, you water it, maybe use some fertilizer on it --- and it grows into a plant, and depending upon what kind of seed it is, you will reap a harvest of potatoes, or green beans, or corn – whatever you planted.

But, now let’s say next week Bill Gates gathers all the world’s most brilliant scientists together and tells them, "I’ll give you all the money you could want if you make something for me.

"I want you to create an item the size of a pinhead, that I can bury in my backyard out in the sun.

And I want this item to grow up out of the ground and become a living, life-giving plant."

Will he be able to do it? Will his brilliant scientists, who have untold billions of dollars at their disposal, be able to take inanimate material and produce something as simple as a garden variety seed? Of course not.

Gates is one of the richest men in the world. And he’s a certified genius who’s done things no one ever would have thought possible. But I can tell you, without a doubt -- I don’t care how smart he is, or how much money he has, --- he is not smart nor rich enough to create anything as amazing as a little seed. There’s no scientist alive that can duplicate that kind of miracle.

Likewise, the Kingdom of God - the church – has the power to do things that no human institution can emulate. Paul wrote: "…no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11

In other words, you can’t duplicate what God intends to do in His church. God’s power in the church has a life within it that defies understanding. AND IT ALL STARTS with a small seed inside the heart of each and every individual.

And once that seed takes root and begins to grow, that which was lifeless & empty becomes filled with the power of God.

ILLUS: In 1995, in Christianity Today magazine, Harold Miller described the change that God brought to the natives of the Peruvian Amazon.

He wrote: “Just one generation ago, these were fearful, aggressive, and animistic people; all their contacts with outsiders were marked by violence. But now they’ve been transformed.

One missionary writes that since embracing faith in Christ, the men of those tribes are more tender with their wives and children. The native believers have problems like Christians anywhere else, but they, more than most, can appreciate the difference between "before" and "after" Christ.

An anthropologist recently visited a Bora tribe and started criticizing the missionaries. He said: "Christianity is for the white man. You people should go back to your old religion and your old ways."

One of the tribal church leaders looked at the anthropologist for a moment. "Yes, and if we did, you’d be the first one in the pot."

Jesus chose the mustard seed because of the humility it represented and because of the Life-giving power it contained. And then…

Lastly, Jesus chose a mustard plant to represent His church because the mustard seed must die in order to give life.

In I Cor. 15:35-38, Paul writes: "But someone may ask, ’How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body."

In other words, a seed has to die to bring life. Was it possible, Jesus was saying (that in the same way) in order for the Kingdom of God to come into being – something (or someone) had to die????

At least two or three times in His ministry, Jesus told His disciples: "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." Luke 9:22

In fact, Paul tells us that this is the message of the Gospel: "By this gospel, you are saved… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" (I Cor. 15: 2-4)

In other words, Jesus had to die and be buried in order to give life to His church and to us.

As Romans 5:8-10 tells us:

"God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him. For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him  through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"

It is amazing how a tiny mustard seed could say so much about Christ’s Kingdom. I  think we all have to admit that it is quite a bit for us to comprehend.

The very idea of using a small seed—a little larger than a speck of dust—describes the power and mystery of what Jesus did to create His Kingdom.

Was there that much power in a tiny seed – that Jesus would want to use something so small to represent something so majestic?

I think the answer is yes. I don’t think there’s anything on earth that has the ability to bury the power that lies within one tiny seed.

A grave in a cemetery in Hanover, Germany, contains huge slabs of granite and marble cemented together and fastened with heavy steel clasps.

It belongs to a woman who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.

Yet strangely, she directed in her will that her grave be made so secure that if there were a resurrection, it could not reach her.

On the marker were inscribed these words: "This burial place must never be opened."

However, a small seed that the stones had covered over began to grow. It became a tree.

Slowly, it pushed its way through the soil and out from beneath the stones.

As the tree's trunk enlarged, the great slabs gradually shifted, wrenching the steel clasps from their sockets.

A tiny seed had become a tree that had pushed aside the stones.

Try as we will sometimes; we cannot change nor alter the power of God over our lives.

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Wow God's power is powerful. His power is amazing, wonderful, majestic, everlasting. Praise God Hallelujah glory Amen 🙏 🙌 ❤️ ♥️ 💖 ✨️ 🙏 🙌

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