Listen to video Sermon below
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
July 26th 2020
(Revd Jeanette Hamer)
(Readings from Matthew 24-52 and Romans 8:26-39)
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Jesus told them another parable:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like this.
A man takes a mustard seed and sows it in his field.
It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it grows up,
it is the biggest of all plants.
It becomes a tree,
so that birds come and make their nests in its branches.”
Over the past few weeks we have been thinking of familiar parables from Matthew’s Gospel.
The sower, the weeds in the fields, and here we have the mustard seed, the yeast, the hidden treasure, the pearl and the net.
Some of the parables in Matthew are also seen in Mark and Luke,
as Jesus used this method of teaching the crowds and his disciples.
We have heard them so often from Sunday school onwards,
but every time we hear them we have the chance to get new insights from God’s word.
What can we take from these today that speak to us in our situation,
both as a church and as individuals,
to help us grow and develop the Kingdom in our lives and community?
In today’s reading the five parables teach about two main themes, mission and judgement.
They can then be divided into three different groups.
The first two, the Parable of the mustard seed and the Parable of the yeast in the dough
focus on the power of even the smallest thing.
From small, humble beginnings, great things can happen.
First there is the tiny mustard seed.
It is thought that the mustard seed here is the black mustard,
that grows in places like North Africa and grows 9 feet high.
The picture that Jesus gives us here is of a tree that grows so large from its small beginnings
that it becomes a place of life and solace for so many.
This is such a good depiction of our common faith, our being part of God’s Kingdom.
Our faith is so small when we first turn to God, but from these small beginnings it can grow.
The mustard seed grows fast and large, so that it can be supporting others as it does so.
It develops and sends out many branches, spreading wider its impact in the place it is growing.
Are we growing, both as individuals and as a church?
Do we spread out into our community to support others?
Or do we stifle our growth by looking inwards and to ourselves?
These past few months have been difficult, but have we been able to grow in faith,
to draw nearer to God and to reach out to others?
The seeds of faith need to be sown, so that they can grow.
What a challenge to us at this time, are we sowing seeds here in Kirk Michael?
What kind of seeds are we sowing?
Is the message we preach and live the true message of the kingdom?
The second of the first pair of parables talks of yeast in dough.
Again there is the picture of a small ingredient that makes the whole difference to the bread.
I read this week that the original Greek text talks of the yeast being hidden in the dough,
as if it is of little importance.
A humble ingredient that actually is vital to the finished loaf.
So what of us?
Do we approach our Christian life in humility?
Do we approach God on our knees, asking for his forgiveness
and having received from him work as his disciples here on earth?
We may be hidden, but as we work within the world, like yeast in the dough,
we can make such a difference.
Those of you that have made bread will know that the dough takes a lot of kneading;
it is stretched, pulled, pushed and put aside to prove.
Isn’t our Christian life like this sometimes?
We can feel under attack from the world, we can feel stretched almost to breaking point.
but God can work in us in the proving, to make us effective for his finished plan.
Remember the chorus we sing sometimes?
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me, melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
The first two parables then, of the mustard seed and the yeast
maybe show us then that our faith, throughout all aspects of our lives,
should grow and spread out to bring God’s message of love and security to all,
so they may find their shelter in him.
The next two parables, the discovery of the hidden treasure and the Pearl
focus on a slightly different aspect of the Gospel message.
We see the recognition of the value of what we have found in God
and what he offers us and how in each of the stories the finder reacts to this.
We see that the Kingdom message then becomes the purpose of their lives,
that they give up everything to fully embrace it.
They sell all their belongings to own the object of great price.
And what of us?
Is God such an important part of our lives
that we are prepared let go of things that distract and to follow him?
What is the central part of our lives?
What or who do we actually live for?
Both of these parables, the finding of the treasure and the pearl,
show what a great commitment he asks of us.
We must take time to look at our lives and see what we consider blocks the way to him.
Where does our heart really lie?
Do you notice in all of these parables that we have to search for God to find him?
He has waited for us to discover him.
He wants us to desire him and understand his great love for us.
When we find him and give our lives to him, he opens up his treasures to us;
treasures for now and for eternity.
Earlier chapters in Matthew also touched on this. From Matthew Chapter 6 for example,
“Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy,
and robbers break in and steal.
Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy and robbers cannot break in and steal.
For your heart will always be where your riches are.’
‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.’
We turn to our final parable, the dragnet of fish and this brings us a challenge too.
Our choice on whether we follow God or not will bring us consequences.
One day there will be judgement and a sorting of souls.
How we have received the Gospel will affect our future, and this is the urgent message here.
If we reject him, then we bring judgement on ourselves.
This picture of the dragnet and the sorting of the fish reflects the message from last week,
of the wheat and the tares.
There will be a time of reckoning for our life’s choices.
These are all parables of the Kingdom. How do we react to them?
Has our faith grown from its small beginnings?
Have we grown in discipleship, do we spread God’s message in our words and lives.
Do others find the Kingdom through us when they seek it?
Has our faith encouraged others to be drawn to God and find solace in him?
Have we allowed God to work in our lives?
Have we allowed him to test us, refine us and mold us?
Is our life in God so important to us that we can let go of earthly things to follow him?
Have we accepted the treasure that life in him brings?
Can people recognise God in us?
How can we live this life? How can we do this?
If we are different to the world we will find opposition.
The road ahead may not be easy, we may face trials.
Paul’s message from Romans reminds us that we do not face the future on our own.
We take up the challenge of the Gospel with the help and strength of the Holy Spirit.
Those early disciples at Pentecost changed from a frightened band of people
to soldiers for Christ. We are promised the same.
At the start of the passage we see Paul acknowledging our human weaknesses.
‘In the same way the Spirit comes to help us, weak as we are.
For we do not know how we ought to pray;
the Spirit himself pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express.
And God, who sees into our hearts, knows what the thought of the Spirit is,
because the Spirit pleads with God on behalf of his people and in accordance with his will’
I urge you to take time today to re-read the passage from Romans.
The reference is printed on the top of the Notice sheet.
Paul’s letter to the Romans is also a letter to us in the times we live today.
To be effective in spreading God’s message and living as Disciples,
we must allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.
Tony chose a passage from Romans for his memorial service,
a passage that talked of triumph over difficulties through faith in Christ.
God works for good with those who love him, those he has called to his purpose.
This passage this morning reminds us that God is for us,
and whatever trials we face nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
We step forward in faith, with the strength of Holy Spirit guiding and interceding for us.
We have complete victory through him who loves us.
As the passage from Romans ended, we can say with Paul,
‘No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us!
For I am certain that nothing can separate us from His love: neither death nor life,
neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future,
neither the world above nor the world below
there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us
from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.’
Praise God for his goodness to us