The Kingdom of Heaven is Like

2020-07-26 – Year A – Proper 12 – The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas
1 Kings 3:3-14; Psalm 119:121-136; Matthew 13:31-33, 44-50

  • “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
    • This was the message of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2, ESV).
    • It was also the message of Jesus (Matthew 4:17)
  • The Kingdom of Heaven seems to be the very core of Jesus’ message.
  • But what, exactly, is the Kingdom of Heaven? How would you answer that question? How would Jesus’ disciples have answered that question?
  • All the people of God were waiting for a Messiah. An anointed leader that the great prophets had spoken of.
  • There was lots of speculation about what this leader would do, but many expected him to become the King of Israel. Restoring the throne that had been promised to a descendent of King David, and removing the foreign rule of the Roman government.
  • Jesus is a King, but not the kind of king that people expected him to be.
  • One day, Jesus sat down by the sea with a crowd of people to tell them about the Kingdom of Heaven, and he taught them using the parables we read today.

Small Beginnings – Mustard Seeds and Yeast

  • Most people would expect a new Kingdom to emerge through war and battle.
    • Campaigns call the money they have raised their “warchest”
    • It is likely that the leader with the most might will emerge as the winner.
  • Jesus’ Kingdom was not, and is not like that.
    • Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to mustard seeds and yeast.
      • Mustard seeds are very small, but their plants can be 3 meters tall!
      • It doesn’t take much yeast to make your bread rise.
    • Jesus’ kingdom didn’t start with soldiers but with fishermen and tax collectors.
    • Jesus before Pilate – John 18:36 – “My kingdom is not of this world…”
    • From these humble beginnings, the Kingdom has grown like a mustard seed!
    • Today Christians make up about 1/3 of the world population, more than 2 Billion!
    • And yet, there are still 2/3 of the world population who do not believe.
  • These two parables were spoken to the crowds along with the parable of the sower and the parable of the weeds. v. 36 tells us that Jesus returned to a house and taught his disciples in private with the explanations of some of these parables as well as a few other parables.
  • Matthew 13:13 – Jesus explains why he speaks to the crowd only in parables.
    • Not everyone will respond to the message of the Kingdom of Heaven.
    • Speaking to his disciples in Private, Jesus continues his teaching with an assurance that they have made the right choice.

Costly Treasure – Worth Every Penny

  • Next we see Jesus share two parables about finding something of great value and giving up everything to get it.
    • First we see the man who finds buried treasure. Don’t focus on the ethics of what he does, that is not Jesus’ point! The man joyfully gives up all that he has to obtain the treasure. The point is the joy and the recognition of greater value.
    • We see the same thing with the pearl merchant. Some might call him a fool for doing what he did, but the man knew the pearl was for him.
  • There is a cost to following Jesus.
    • It might be loss of respect among colleagues, friends, or family.
    • It might be loss of control as you put your life in God’s hands.
    • It might be loss of choosing for yourself what is right and what is wrong.
    • In some places it might even mean the loss of your life.
    • Most of all, It means removing yourself from the primary place.
      • “My heart is drawn to self exalting / Help me seek Your kingdom first”
  • When we join the Kingdom of Heaven, we joyfully pay this price knowing the value of our place in the Kingdom.
    • You will eventually lose all of these things anyway, whether through the circumstances of life or through death.
  • Jim Elliot, Missionary to Ecuador and Martyr “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Eternal Destiny – the Parable of the Net

  • In the last of this series of parables, Jesus compares the kingdom to a fisherman sorting what he has caught in his net.
    • When you go fishing with a net you catch some of what you want and some of what you don’t want. Fishermen would only keep what was good to eat or sell.
    • Jesus says that this is what it will be like at the end of the age. The evil and the righteous will be separated and the evil will be thrown into the fiery furnace.
    • Only the righteous will enter into the joy of the kingdom.
      • By the righteous, Jesus isn’t talking about people who are perfect. He is talking about those to whom he has given his own righteousness. Those who are being made holy by the Holy Spirit. Those who have chosen to be a part of this kingdom.
  • Our response to the message of the Kingdom makes all the difference.
    • The kingdom is growing even now, like a mustard plant.
    • Your place in this kingdom is more value than anything worldly that you could hold onto.
    • If you are already a part of the kingdom of heaven, praise God!
    • If you aren’t, know that Jesus is offering you a place in his kingdom.
    • Joyfully “give what you cannot keep to gain what you cannot lose.”

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