Building His Kingdom

July 24, 2022 | Jess Rainer

Passage: Matthew 13:24-43

Today is about seeing down the road.  When we can see far down the road, it puts where we are today in the proper framework.  So, here’s what we see today in God’s Word:  God is building His kingdom and we get to be a part of it.   

Let me try to frame where we are in the book of Matthew.  We’ve watched the events of Jesus’ birth unfold last Christmas.  We saw Jesus’ preparation of ministry with His baptism and temptation.   Jesus gathers His disciples and begins to teach them.  Jesus performs miracles and the crowds are starting to grow around Him.  At the same time, opposition to Jesus is growing.  Now, Jesus is teaching in parables.   What we see in these parables is that Jesus is teaching about God’s kingdom.  In the past two weeks, we saw what it means to be in the family of God and that we need God’s Word rooted in our hearts.  That’s the starting point for God’s kingdom.   We know that God’s kingdom has grown since Jesus established in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.  We don’t know what it will exactly look like when Jesus comes back.  But we do know that God will not stop building and growing His kingdom.  

1) God’s kingdom grows outwardly. (vs. 31-32)  What do I mean by outwardly?  God’s kingdom is expansive—it spreads all through the world.  Jesus wanted His disciples and us to know this, so he gave us a parable.  Look at verses 31 and 32:  31 Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field.   32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches."  

Let’s break down the parable.  Mustard seeds are tiny.  I read there are about 500 mustard seeds in a gram.  Your thumb is about 10 grams.  That means your thumb is about 5,000 mustard seeds.  Even if I’m wrong on all of that, you get the point: mustard seeds are tiny.  Jesus said they are the smallest of all seeds.  But what happens?  The mustard plant becomes the largest plant in the garden.  Mustard plants turn into small tree-like plants.  They can easily grow to 10 feet high, sometimes near 20 feet.  So much that the bird will use the bush to nest.  A bird will go from feasting on these tiny seeds to living in the fully grown plant.  What is Jesus saying about the kingdom of God?  In the hands of God, what appears to be insignificant turns out to be magnificent.

What about the opposition to God’s kingdom?  Let me ask you a question:  How many times in history have people either tried to end Christianity or predict the end of Christianity?  Nero (37-68)  Vespasian (69-79)  Marcus Aurelius (161-180)  Valerian (253-260)  Diocletian (284-305)  Constantius and Galerius (early 4th century)  What did all of these rulers have in common?  They couldn’t stop Christianity.  What about in recent history?  We know Hitler’s goal to kill Jews.  What about the rulers today in North Korea, Afghanistan, or Nigeria?  They want to stop Christianity.   What do they all have in common?  They can’t stop what God is building.  Nothing will stop God’s kingdom from expanded.  It’s our calling to be a part of that expansion.  Share the hope of Jesus with your neighbors and the nations. 

There is a phrase that my brother uses often, that is such a good reminder:  Your address is not an accident.  Where God has you right now is on purpose.  Your calling is to do kingdom work right where you are.  Sure, God may change your location, but God doesn’t change your purpose to make disciples and glorify.  So often, we are focused on the where instead of what.  The “what” is God is building His kingdom and you get to be a part of it.  Do your outward part in God’s kingdom.  There’s an outward expansion, but there’s also an inward expansion.

2) God’s kingdom grows inwardly. (vs. 33)  Jesus follows up the mustard seed parable with a similar parable:  33 Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”  In biblical times, farming and cooking would have been something that everyone knows about.  Kind of like driving and technology today.  I know very little about farming and cooking.  But I do know what yeast does: it causes bread to rise.  The yeast will infiltrate or permeate into every part of the dough.  There’s no part of the dough that the yeast won’t come into contact with.  This is what happens in your heart when you make Jesus your Savior and Lord.  The kingdom of God permeates into every aspect of your life.  Over time, your life changes.  The problem is that we want instant spiritual success.  You can’t microwave spiritual growth.   Demanding overnight success of God’s kingdom is not God’s design.  Our culture loves to grab on to the next wave.  The problem is that most waves don’t produce the desired results.  It’s a life of jumping from wave to the next – it’s an endless, fruitless pursuit. 

What does it look like to live in God’s kingdom?  Living in God’s kingdom means persistently pursuing what matters most.  I read Hebrews 10:35-37 in my time with God this week.  35 So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. 37 “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.  Patient endurance is what you need now!  The hard part is when we are spiritually living “between the waves.” 

What about the “spiritually dry” seasons in our lives?  I’ve used this phrase so many times in my life.  When mentors in my life have asked me, “How are you doing spiritually,” I’ve answered many times with “it’s dry right now.”  This week, I started processing on why I’ve thought that in past.  Because clearly, from these 3 verses, God never has a dry season.  We may not see the work that is happening, but God’s kingdom is always growing and moving forward.  But what does that mean for my personal spiritual growth?  I’ve used these “dry seasons” as an excuse.  We use these dry seasons to change our spiritual environment.  We change our community.  We change churches.  We change who we listen to.  And all of these things might be needed.  But what if, what you think is a dry season, is actually an unseen season.  What we may deem as dry may be God’s unseen hand at work.  So, what do we do in those seasons? 

1) We look for the small details of God working.  God is there, working. It just takes a lot more effort to see it. 

2) Look to the horizon.  Look for the coming waves.  Look for the rain clouds. 

What did Elijah do when he prayed for rain?  1 Kings 18:41-46  41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!”  42 So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees.  43 Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.” The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.” Seven times Elijah told him to go and look.   44 Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”  45 And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel.   46 Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel.  God is building His kingdom and we get to be a part of it.  He’s building His kingdom outwardly and inwardly.  He’s also building a kingdom that will last forever.

3) God’s kingdom will last forever. (vs. 36-43)  There is so much to unpack in these verses, but let me give you the high-level parts.  At first, we see Jesus give clarity to the different parts of the parable.  36 Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples said, “Please explain to us the story of the weeds in the field.”  37 Jesus replied, “The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed.   38 The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one.   39 The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels.  40 “Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world.  41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.   

Jesus is coming back.  The world as we know it will end and Jesus will bring a purification to His kingdom.  42 And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.   Those who don’t have a personal relationship will experience an eternity apart from God that includes weeping and gnashing of teeth (aka the most unpleasant experience you can imagine).  43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!  Those who have a personal relationship with Jesus will enjoy a sin-free world with God for all eternity.  There are two ways you can look at these verses.  There are two ways you should look at these verses:

1) With heaviness.  There are those around us who don’t know Jesus.  The reality of God’s finality of His kingdom should drive us to tell others about the hope we have. 

2) With excitement.  There will be a day that we get to sit at the feet of Jesus and everything is going to be okay. 

A major part of living in God’s kingdom while on earth is to consistently remind yourself of what’s to come.  Jesus is coming back. We know this from Revelation 11:15:  15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: “The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.”  We also know what it will be like (somewhat).  I want to close our time in God’s Word by reading Revelation 4. It’s a passage I go to a lot because it reminds me of what’s to come.

As we close, let your heart, soul, and mind go to heaven.  Take a glimpse of what’s to come.  And then when I’m done reading, let that perspective fuel you to be a part of God’s kingdom.  Both inwardly and outwardly.

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Series Information

This series deals with the parables of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew. Through understanding the context and audience, we can see that parables teach us about compassion, faithfulness, responsibility, the generosity of God, and the importance of living kingdom lives for God.

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