- Sermon Notes
More Than What Meets the Eye
Illus. Color Matching.
This week we continue in Matthew 13, where Jesus is speaking in parables. A parable is a spiritual or moral truth that is expressed by “laying it alongside” a physical example that could be easily understood or seen in the lives of those hearing His words.
In giving the parables, Jesus said that He is sharing the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (Vs. 11) …The mysteries were received by those with eyes to see and ears to hear. Some had eyes to see and ears to hear, yet, they were aware of the reality that not all were drawing near.
Though many would come to follow Him, those truly following Jesus as He shared these words were quite small in number. The religious leaders had rejected Him, others had and would as well, yet many, though unseen would come to faith in Jesus and become His followers. That future following is realized throughout the world, in churches all over the world, ours included. We got a glimpse of just how far reaching His impact is, as we served in a small farm town in Mexico in June.
Though His kingdom would grow, and have far reaching impact, it was not what they were seeing in their day and time.
Jesus had just given a parable about the tares growing amongst the wheat, but those waiting for the Messiah were wanting Him to take His seat and see the defeat of those who rejected Him. It is there Jesus pointed them to the end, where the wheat and the tares (good and bad) would be separated. And after pointing them to the end, He shows them where it all begins, with a seed (His kingdom).
Read: Matthew 13:31-35
If those hearing His words began to look around and try to “color match” the state of things, there would seem little base for the case Jesus was making about the growth of the kingdom. So, wait a minute, the weeds are going to grow with the good seeds, and it is all going to be sorted out in the end?
It is here that Jesus points them toward the impact of the seed, which though small, can grow quite tall. The kingdom of heaven would grow and prosper, it would permeate and influence the entire world, they could not see it then, but what they were seeing what was simply where it would all begin. Jesus was pointing toward the little things, that make a huge impact.
I.Know that What He Plants Will Grow
Matthew 13:31, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
- Again, Jesus draws our attention to the growth of what is planted. Here it isn’t just any seed, but a mustard seed is used in this parable.
- Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed. Which was the smallest seed that a farmer would use.
- So small that is would take around 15,000 seeds to make one ounce.
- Many have taken aim at Jesus use of the mustard seed as the smallest of seeds in existence. The orchid seed is smaller, however, the mustard seed is the smallest of all the herb seeds and would have been the smallest Jesus listeners would have known.
- His point was that what they identified as the smallest seed, could grow to be the tallest in the garden!
- Around the Sea of Galilee, it can reach a height of 10 plus feet…That growth would take place in one season.
- Though that could take place in or around that area, Jesus is talking about something beyond their expectations.
- The main point being, something small, can have a huge and quick impact.
Illus. A small note.
- During Jesus’ earthly ministry, His kingdom was small, with few citizens, it was spiritual and invisible.
Luke 17:20-21, Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
- Jesus came preaching that the kingdom was at hand (Mt. 4:17), but what were they seeing?
- Think about Jesus’ own beginning, was born and placed in a manger amongst cows, sheep, goats, donkeys, and other animals.
- Bethlehem, where He was born was an insignificant town, grew up in Nazareth which was also an insignificant town; so much so, that after hearing about Jesus from Nazareth, Nathanael asked Philip, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)
- None of Jesus disciples were Jewish leaders, there were 12, they were uneducated, unqualified, quick to speak and slow to understand.
- The group that gathered for prayer in Acts 1:15 after Jesus was taken up into heaven numbered about 120.
1 Corinthians 1:27-28, God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are…
- A group of 12, or 120 seems so small in comparison to the many who have come to faith and follow Jesus today.
Illus. Looking around.
Illus. Planted in the field.
1 Samuel 17:34-37
- Like His kingdom, there is a way that He starts…with seeds. But if you feel like you are a start, or a seed, don’t get stuck in the weeds, what He plants, will grow. He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it (Phil. 1:6).
- Don’t despise the days of small beginnings
Zechariah 4:10, Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…
- The days of small beginnings represent the beginning.
- Everything in our lives of value, in order for the greatest impact, begins with small things.
- In context, this is spoken to Zerubbabel and the group that came back from Babylonian exile.
- Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the temple and the generation that came back was discouraged almost right away. They were getting pressure from the outside to not rebuild, they were having a great deal of issues, many people struggling, hostility, a loss of support from Persia, and for 17 years it sat unfinished…
- Then the Lord raises up Zechariah…Don’t despise the days of small beginnings!
- As the second temple was being built, the old men started wailing, they were rather disappointed…
- This isn’t even close to as beautiful as what Solomon had built…Solomon’s temple was glorious…This thing is tiny.
- But it was of this second temple that Haggai prophesied…The latter glory will be greater than the former glory… (Haggai 2:3-9)
- Why? Because what Zerubbabel built was the temple Jesus himself would walk into…
- It was so much less to those who were stuck on what Solomon had built…But ultimately, it was so much more!
- Are you stuck on the way it was built before? Or fixed on a foundation you saw in the past?
Illus. I can’t believe I am stuck with this!
- Jesus’ kingdom was starting small, but His disciples were being let know that it would grow, so they could hold on rather than let go.
- Rise up with Jesus
- Jesus follows this up with a parable about leaven, or yeast, which is illustrated by a woman who takes it and mixes it into about sixty pounds of flour, until it is worked all through the dough.
- Leaven, or yeast is a minor ingredient, but it transforms, or permeates the whole loaf bread.
- In other passages of scripture, leaven is a symbol of evil or uncleanliness…Here it seems a positive symbol of growth.
Illus., William Arnot wrote about leaven.
- It is imperative that the growth agent within the life of the believer is the empowerment of the Holy Spirit…With eyes fixed on growing in Christ.
- While there are many influences, know that He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
- Nobody can deny the power of leaven when it is integrated into bread…So too, no one can deny the power of the Gospel as Jesus charged His disciples to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.
- All nations may have seemed like a distant and unattainable dream for His disciples who were seeing Jesus rejected and it may seem in the distance for you today, but, like the leaven works its way through the dough, I encourage you to keep Jesus at the center every day, no matter where you go.
Hebrews 4:12, For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Proverbs 4:18, But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
- The nature of leaven is to grow and change whatever it contacts, invest faithfully in the little He has entrusted you, He is doing more than what meets the eye.
- Jesus points us to what He can do with the little things. The things that seem inconsequential, the small things, the places where there is great doubt about how someone like you could be effective, or how He might be able to use someone like you, in the place you are planted.
Acts 4:13, Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.
- Start small, so that God can go big! He can do so much more than you can see!