How would you explain God’s kingdom to people in a way it would be understood and appreciated? Jesus chose four short comparisons that made four powerful points about what God wants the kingdom to be in all time.
First, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and planted in a field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” What is the point of this comparison? God’s kingdom begins small but it grows to become large and inviting. It doesn’t matter whether you are thinking of the kingdom as a whole as it began on Pentecost with only 120 disciples but it grew to 3,000 then 5,000 then to multitudes or When the disciples were scattered from Jerusalem and went everywhere preaching the word of the Lord. It started small and grew large. But it isn’t just that the kingdom as a whole started small and spread, that is true in every place where the kingdom goes. Philip went down to Samaria and preached Christ to them and people began coming to be baptized into the kingdom. He went to the desert to teach the Ethiopian Eunuch and brought him to salvation. Peter went to the home of Cornelius and the kingdom began to spread among the Gentiles. The story goes on and on until today, when one follower of Jesus moves to a new town, city or country and begins to invite people to learn about Jesus and God’s kingdom begins to spread. Even beyond those applications, notice one more thing, God’s kingdom goes from small to large in each person’s heart. We start our journey with Christ without understanding at all where it will lead but if we are real disciples the kingdom begins to grow in us until it consumes our lives for Him.
Second, Jesus said “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Jesus took the point about God’s kingdom growing from small to large to add another dimension. It grows by getting mixed into the flour. It grows from there to get into the dough and rise with the bread. God’s kingdom grows as disciples get out into the world and mix with other people to allow them to see what Christ has done in their life and to tell them about Jesus and His amazing love for all. It grows as we share the message of grace that no matter where you are or what you have done, Jesus paid the price for your sins and you can be forgiven and become part of His glorious kingdom. When Christians isolate themselves and try to avoid the world around them, sitting only in buildings with others who share their faith, it stops the mixing and stops the growing. Too often we preach to each other and build friendships only with one another to the degree that there is no mixing and no influencing of others to bring them into the kingdom of the Lord.
Third, Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” God’s kingdom is a treasure. Sometimes we aren’t looking for anything special in our life. Often we don’t even realize there is any better way than what we have been doing or living all along. We stumble on to the treasure. Maybe we read a book or someone gives us an article to read. Sometimes it may happen that we see a reference to something on Facebook or an article on the internet. More often than anything else we likely get to know someone who impresses us in how they handle life. We realize there is something different about them and began to ask questions. The more we learn the more we realize the difference is the Savior, the God they serve and the kingdom they are part of. One day as we learn more we feel drawn to God’s kingdom and giving our lives to the Lord. But in realizing and being drawn to the Lord we begin to think of the changes that will have to be made in us. Some things we are doing will need to stop. We will need to do some things we hadn’t been doing. Jesus said, people will find the kingdom and those who really become part of it are the ones who recognize the treasure and are willing to go and sell everything they have to buy that field and become part of God’s kingdom. Certainly, some find the treasure but don’t recognize its value and go on to do nothing. Some find the treasure and realize its value but decide it would cost too much to sell all and buy the field. Some see the treasure, recognize its value and go and sell all to buy that field. These are the ones who give their lives to the Lord and commit to follow him always.
Fourth, Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Notice in this comparison the kingdom isn’t like the treasure, but the man searching for it. While some stumble upon God’s kingdom who aren’t looking, there are some who know they are missing something in their life and are searching for something in life that will give them meaning and purpose. They feel an emptiness that nothing has been found to fill. As they search for the truth, for the fine pearls, one day they find that one pearl of tremendous value. They learn of Jesus Christ who willingly gave up the wonders of heaven to come to this earth as one of us and take on him the sins of the world and pay the price for that sin on a cross so we can be saved. They learn of the Savior’s invitation for all people everywhere to come to him for life, for meaning, for fullness. They learn they can be part of his spiritual kingdom that has no end. The searcher has to make the same choice now as the one who stumbled on God’s will. Will they be willing to pay the price and give up everything in order to be part of the kingdom of the Lord. Most of the time the searcher is looking for good ways. It is a shock when they find there is only ONE WAY to have the real treasure. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). If one is that honest searcher, when they find that one pearl they are ready to give it all to have that treasure and be part of that eternal kingdom.
Someone offered the following illustration that I think helps to grasp what it means to find the treasure and enter God’s kingdom. A man was searching all over for fine pearls that he could sell to a jewelry store owner. One day as he was in a new city he was walking past a flea market when he noticed this beautiful pearl laying there among all the junk. He asked the man what he would take for the pearl, thinking that the man likely didn’t know what he really had. The man answered, “What do you have?” “I have $50.00.” he said. The man said, “I’ll take that. What else do you have?” “I have $200.00 in the bank.” “I’ll take that. What else do you have?” “I have a car. It’s an older model but it still runs good.” “I’ll take that. What else do you have?” “I have a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house.” “I’ll take that. What else do you have?” “I have three wonderful children who’re the apple of my eye.” “I’ll take them. What else do you have?” “I’m married to the greatest wife you can imagine.” “I’ll take her. What else do you have?” “All I have left is me.” “I’ll take you.”
“Now since you have given it all for the pearl, let me tell you what I will do. I don’t need the car, the money, the house, the children or your wife, so I’m giving them back to you for you to care for and have but you must remember it isn’t yours any more. It all belongs to me but you have complete use of everything for life.”
God’s kingdom is worth everything we might sacrifice to become part of it but we are blessed more than anything we might even imagine giving up to be part of it. So God’s kingdom grows like a mustard seed. It spreads like yeast in flour. It is a treasure some find without looking and recognize the value and do whatever it takes to belong. It is a like a man searching for the greatest thing there is and finds it. What a kingdom!