The Kingdom of God Part 7: The Kingdom of God is like…
So far, in this series, we have looked at the Kingdom of God from many different angles. In this edition, I want to take a look at a steam of Parables in Matthew 13 that speaks directly to the nature of the Kingdom of God. Let’s start with Matthew 13:24-29:
[Jesus] presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and left. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. The landowner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’
“‘An enemy did this,’ he told them.
“‘So, do you want us to go and pull them up?’ the servants asked him.
“‘No,’ he said. ‘When you pull up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time, I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but collect the wheat in my barn.’ (Matthew 13:24-30 CSB)
There are a few things to notice in this parable:
- The sower is Jesus, and He spreads the seed (the gospel). As seen in a parable right before this one (vss. 3-9), the sower spreads his seed to everyone regardless of who they are and where they are located. However, not everyone will accept the gospel (the seed). In this parable, Jesus takes it a step further. The Kingdom of God is under assault from an enemy – Satan. Satan wants to choke out the people in the Kingdom of God. However, he is unsuccessful and is ultimately doomed.
- People will question why there are good people in Jesus’ Kingdom and why there are enemies in their midst. The key is in the nature of the harvest. When the plants are you, the harvester cannot tell the difference between them. But after they have matured – either into good or into evil – it is easy to tell them apart.
- Notice the patience of Jesus – wait until the harvest is ready, then you will know for sure.
As an application, the Kingdom of God is occupied by those who have had good seed grow in them. The Enemy will try to stop our growth and even disguise himself as legitimate. However, his goal is to draw us out of the Kingdom or forget that we live in the Kingdom.
Now let’s look at a couple of linked parables:
He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It’s the smallest of all the seeds, but when grown, it’s taller than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches.”
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and mixed into fifty pounds of flour until all of it was leavened.” Matthew 13:31-33
When I was in Israel, I noticed that there was a lot of mustard growing. It was everywhere. Now, this type of mustard is different from the tree Jesus was talking about; they are linked, genetic cousins. In the first century Judean world, both were used for spices. In the parable, the Kingdom of God has big rewards. We carry with us faith – putting our hope and trust in Jesus. Even a little bit of faith has a huge dividend. Whether it be a large tree such as Jesus was talking about or the mustard weed that grows ubiquitously throughout the land, our faith comes from something tiny but grows into a Kingdom.
The second parable uses the simile of yeast. Usually, in scripture, yeast is a symbol of sin. See Exodus 12:14-15, 17-20; Deuteronomy 16:1-4; Matthew 16:5-12; Mark 8:14-21; Luke 12:1-3; Galatians 5:2-12. But, in this parable, Jesus takes yeast as to its actual properties. If you ever have baked bread or have used yeast, you know that it permeates the whole. What starts as a little bit permeates the whole.
And that is how it should be with those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus the Messiah. Our small faith grows big and should affect everything around us. When we walk in the kingdom, it doesn’t matter how small our kingdom’s actions are. They are magnified and used by God to further his kingdom. Those that walk in a Kingdom mindset know that every action they take will have eternal consequences. Living out this small faith, we can grow into mature believers distinguished from the Enemy’s counterfeits. Our ministry will permeate everything that is around us – to bring Jesus glory.
Often, we live and act as if we are not living in the Kingdom of God. We think we need something big or spectacular to be a servant of the King. But these parables show us differently. We have to start with small things – a text to a friend, a kind word to a stranger, a moment of prayer for someone who comes to mind. All of these are little seeds that can spread and grow. When we act as though we are living in the Kingdom of God, the smallest acts of faith can grow into an extension of the Kingdom.