Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 11, 2010

Kingdom Growth

   Reflections on Matthew 13:31-35

   One day, after a confrontation with religious leaders (Matt. 12:22-45), Jesus spoke to a large crowd by the Sea of Galilee (Matt. 13:1). He had to get into a boat and use it as a platform from which to speak (Matt. 13:2). Jesus told those assembled along the shore many things in parables (Matt. 13:3). A parable is best defined as an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus told a series of parables to describe “the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 13:31), that is, the sovereign reign of God. The kingdom of heaven is not geographical or political. The kingdom of heaven is first and foremost relational — it is the rule of God in the hearts of believers. Each parable Jesus told (Matt. 13:34) cast light on some aspect of the kingdom (Matt. 13:35). He introduced the parables of the kingdom with the phrase “the kingdom of heaven is like.” Two of the parables he shared illustrate how something small eventually grows into something great.

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. | Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32) — believed to be the smallest of all seeds (Matt. 13:32). A single mustard seed was so small as to seem insignificant. But, once planted, the tiny mustard seed eventually breaks through the surface of the ground and grows to become the largest of garden plants (Matt. 13:32) — growing to a height of ten or more feet. Jesus inaugurated the kingdom of heaven among humanity when He began His earthly ministry. At that time, the kingdom seemed as small and insignificant as a single tiny mustard seed. At other times it seemed the tender shoot would not survive in the harsh environment of religious, philosophical, and political opposition and persecution. However, like the mustard seed, the kingdom of heaven has steadily grown into something immeasurably larger. Today, God’s kingdom rule continues to expand across ethnic and geographical lines as people submit to Him all across the planet.

The kingdom of heaven is like yeast. | Jesus also likened the kingdom of heaven to yeast (Matt. 13:33) — a small piece of fermented dough kept from a previous baking. A small piece of yeast is capable of permeating a large amount of flour. Yeast was usually a symbol of that which was evil or unclean (see Matt. 16:6; 1 Cor. 5:6). However, Jesus likened the kingdom of heaven to the pervasive power of yeast. Like yeast, the kingdom of heaven quietly spreads from one life to another — transforming individuals one by one. This leavening activity happens as citizens of the kingdom understand and fulfill their responsibility to “preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:2). As we faithfully share the good news about Jesus, the kingdom of heaven quietly spreads from one transformed life to another and then another.

   So, don’t be discouraged by small beginnings and don’t underestimate the power of your influence for the kingdom. The kingdom of heaven continues to grow because of the faithfulness of those who know the message, live the message, and share the message.

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