Our July 26 Sunday outdoor worship service will be available on video through Facebook when technical issues are resolved. It will be shown here when possible.
The August 2 worship service will be held in our church sanctuary with members and friends in attendance. It is scheduled to be streamed live on the DeSoto Redeemer Facebook page. We will post a direct link to the recording here as soon as it is possible after the service.
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July 26 Sermon
1 Kings 3:5-12 | Psalm 119:129-136
Romans 8:26-39 | Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
Last week, Jesus gave us a parable, the famous “Wheat and the Tares.” This week, we have five parables. Actually, I’m leaning towards six parables. I think that analogy about scribes in verse 52 may well be a parable as well. But, there is a mixed decision on that one among biblical scholars. But, I’m leaning towards that one also being a parable.
He leads off with the mustard seed. Last year, as you all recall, we had Luke’s account of the mustard seed, and having the faith of a mustard seed, which is kind of confusing. What kind of faith does a mustard seed have? The mustard seed story is found in Matthew, Mark and Luke. John doesn’t have it. But, Matthew is a bit different from the other two gospel writers. He doesn’t have the faith of the mustard seed, but rather a comparison of the kingdom of heaven as a mustard seed. That is a different tack. In fact, all of the parables this morning are analogies about the kingdom of heaven.
What does a mustard seed have to do with the kingdom of heaven? Everyone look at the bulletin, and find in the writing, a period. That is about the size of a mustard seed (they are usually a little bit smaller actually). They are nothing to write home about. But, they are loaded with potential. Put a mustard seed in the ground, add some water and sunlight, and stand back. Back home in California, where the central valleys are loaded with mustard. And I have seen mustard plants over 4 feet high. And, yes, I have seen mustard plants with bird nests in them. I found something even better than a mustard seed, which Jesus didn’t have access to in Palestine. This year, I planted hummingbird vine. The seed is about the same size as a mustard seed, but flat. And when they grow, they can cover 25 feet. Plus, they can feed the birds of the air. Their flowers (trumpets) are loaded with nectar. They might be as good as a mustard seed as an illustration. However, with a little vinegar, you can take mustard seeds and grind them up and make something that goes really well on a hot dog. They are amazing. There is a lot of potential to that little seed. It goes well beyond our wildest expectations of such a little thing. And, I think that that is the point which Jesus is making. The kingdom of heaven is well beyond what we expect. That holds for the rest of the parables.
Mix some yeast into flour, cover and put in a warm place, and watch out. It will swell to twice and three times its size. Punch it down, and it will swell again. All from these little tiny microscopic organisms which biologists are still arguing about what they really are! They can also go a very long way to adding flavors to your breads, try some San Francisco Sourdough bread sometime, my favorite. The kingdom of heaven is like that too. It grows and grows, try to knock it back, and it keeps on growing, and as members of it, we add flavor to this world.
The hidden treasure in a field, run out and buy that field! Think of the words of the hymn, “All is built on our possessing.” And the pearl of great price, sell all that you have and get that pearl. Translation, the single most important thing for us should be the kingdom of heaven. All other things pale in comparison. It is the must have of this life, and the next.
Then the kingdom of heaven is like a net which brings in a great catch of fish. Normally, I think of the Gospel as a great net which brings in a great catch, but Jesus here uses it for the kingdom. True, the Gospel draws people into the kingdom. But Jesus here speaks of the kingdom of heaven bringing all fish, both good and bad, large and small. Then, they must be separated righteous from the wicked. So, it is a bit different. Belief in Christ, and his Gospel, makes us all righteous, that is the faith which we believe and baptize into. But, here, I think Jesus has jumped ahead to what we like to call Judgment Day, when all will be judged righteous or not. But, that is not really our concern. It is a task for the angels. Our job is to get into that net, buy that field, purchase that great pearl, and trust in God’s judgment.
“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes,” which just goes to show you that people have been lying for a long time. I don’t think that I get all of this. But, I hope that I am close. And pray that God will forgive if I am wrong. But that again is what we trust in, God’s willingness to forgive us for Christ’s sake. We may not fully understand Jesus’ teachings, especially some of the deeper aspects of his parables, but we trust, pray and believe in Christ’s merit and love for us. For, he is the pearl of great price, and the treasure hidden in the field. Jesus is the old and the new treasure, the Alpha and the Omega. Through our faith in him, and the promises of our baptism into Him, we have received the promise of the kingdom of heaven, of which, Christ himself is the guarantee. To Christ the giver of the promise of the kingdom; and God the Father, the giver of all things, be all praise and glory.