Intro, Purpose & Plan
Do we have any special treasures? Do we own heirlooms from distant lands? Are our families among our greatest treasures?
Do we treat the things of God as our greatest treasures of all?
Let’s look at some special aspects of the kingdom of heaven.
The Kingdom of Heaven is …
In Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 Jesus described some traits of the kingdom of heaven. He spoke in parables because the kingdom of heaven was still a well-kept secret. As it grows, it is becoming less of a secret. The kingdom of heaven has become the largest venture of all time, covering about a third of humanity. Jesus rules the largest kingdom on earth, a spiritual kingdom hidden from plain sight. Like yeast it will someday leaven all of humanity. Like a buried treasure not seen by human eyes, it is the most precious treasure of all. It is currently a mixture of good and evil, old and new.
1. Matthew 13:31-32 Like a Mustard Seed
Jesus’ Little Flock will Grow
In Matthew 13:31-32 Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed.” What kind of plant was the mustard tree? Some experts believe it was the black mustard, an herb which can grow to three meters (ten feet). The parable of the mustard seed gives the impression that the kingdom of heaven, though once a little flock, will become very large. The mustard seed certainly did correlate to the smallness of the kingdom in the beginning. However, it foretold a far greater, all-encompassing future. Indeed, where Jesus used the term “little flock” He was addressing his disciples, not the eventual size of the Church (Luke 12:32).
In Matthew 13:31-32 Jesus called a mustard seed, “the least of all the seeds.” This is conversational speech, like saying, “Isn’t that just the cutest baby!” It is not a scientific or statistical conclusion but an everyday superlative. Those trained in scientific precision may quibble that there are seeds smaller than the mustard seed, but those trained in literary style would be quick to point out that is not the point of the parable. A lot of biblical criticism comes from misunderstanding the genre of speech. Being highly educated in one field we are often totally ignorant of other fields of study. Jesus’ frequently taught with imagery and hyperbole.
Church Growth Jesus Style
In Matthew 13:31-32 Jesus said of a mustard seed picturing the kingdom of heaven, “when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” Church growth advice is for sale at a price. The effective ingredient of church growth is not for sale at any price, Jesus. He said, “I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18) Is it wrong to get advice? Of course not. Jesus predicted that the kingdom of heaven would grow to be the largest garden plant, a tree. In the garden of world religions Christianity is now the largest.
2. Matthew 13:33 Like Yeast
In Matthew 13:33 Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven” (yeast). What about yeast helps us understand the kingdom of heaven? The woman used, three measures, about 27 kilograms (60 pounds). That is far more bread than one family needs, “a woman took and hid [it] in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” Could this refer to the three major branches of Christianity: Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant? Is it Christianity or idolatry which creates human traditions and doctrines contradicting the teachings of Jesus? Only Jesus has the authority to define the kingdom of heaven, and He defines it as much larger than our narrow views.
3. Matthew 13:44 Like Buried Treasure
In Matthew 13:44 we read, “the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.” Buried treasure is not just fiction but a historic reality and a business. Treasure hunters include archaeologists and marine salvage operators. Two separate half billion dollar fortunes were recovered in 1985 and 2007. Yet, the most valuable treasure of all is the kingdom of heaven and few are finding it today. The kingdom of God is in this world but hidden. Most people are not like the man who “for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Are we yet ready to sacrifice everything for heaven?
4. Matthew 13:45-46 Like a Costly Pearl
In Matthew 13:45-46 Jesus said, “the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls.” Since ancient times pearls have been highly sought after and prized. They are formed by the hand of God. The buried treasure was found by accident. The pearl was found by an individual who was looking. He too recognized the life-changing magnitude of his discovery, “when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” He responded with an absolute commitment to the kingdom of heaven. What is the most prized thing in our lives? Is anything else worth more than the kingdom of heaven?
5. Matthew 13:47-50 Like a Drag Net
In Matthew 13:47-50 Jesus said, “the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind.” Like a dragnet, the kingdom also picks up people indiscriminately. Trawlers then separate from the catch the useful fish and throw “the bad away.” At the final judgment “angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire.” Many moderns don’t like to hear about hell, but the Bible does not shy away from it. Angels will only confirm what we have already chosen. Don’t choose to neglect salvation. “There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
6. Matthew 13:51-52 Like New and Old Treasures
In Matthew 13:51-52 Jesus spoke of those who convert from an Old Testament faith to the kingdom of heaven as being “like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” We have treasures from both Old and New Testaments. We have treasures from both old and new music styles. It requires some maturity and education for a church to sing old and new songs in worship. Grandchildren honor grandparents’ music choices and grandparents know it is biblical to “sing a new song” (Psalm 33:3; Psalm 40:3; Psalm 96:1; Psalm 98:1; Psalm 144:9; Psalm 149:1; Isaiah 42:10; Revelation 5:9).
Earthly treasures will all fade, but the new and old treasures of the kingdom of heaven are forever. Is the kingdom of heaven our greatest treasure?
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52; Luke 12:32; Matthew 16:18; Psalm 33:3; Psalm 40:3; Psalm 96:1; Psalm 98:1; Psalm 144:9; Psalm 149:1; Isaiah 42:10; Revelation 5:9