Parables | Kingdom Power and Value | Matthew 13:31-33; 44-46
Topic: Gospel Passage: Matthew 13:31–33, Matthew 13:44–46
Christopher Rich – August 30, 2020
Parables: Small Stories, Big Ideas, Great Jesus
Parables of Kingdom Power and Value - Matthew 13:31-33; 44-46
Good Morning! Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus’ Work, Changed
by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’ Mission. Mercy Fellowship exists to make disciples of
Jesus Christ who love God and love people. Today we are continuing our summer series
Parables: Small Stories, Big Ideas, Great Jesus.
We are beginning to gear up for back to school, whatever that is going to look like. So how are
you? I ask because if we’re honest we feeling weak, worn out, discouraged, and maybe a bit
empty. When we are weak deeply desire something or someone powerful to lead and protect.
When we are feeling small we want to be part of something big, when we’re joyless we want
something glorious, when we are empty we want to be filled. We are drawn to power and value.
That more than ok. It’s acknowledging how weak and dependent we are. We need to hear
some good teaching to give us hope. More than simply a good teacher, Jesus ministry on earth
had an intense focus on teaching people about the character and nature of God, His kingdom,
His values, and how we are to live in response to who God is. While Jesus intended meaning
with each of these stores, parables is specific, the response to them varies depending on the
condition of the heart of those who hear them. For those who follow Jesus the parables lead to
greater understanding, for those indifferent or opposed to Jesus they cause greater confusion.
Today we have five parables showing the kingdom’s power, the kingdom’s value, and what life
looks like for those who understand the kingdom. Four times we will see Jesus say the
“Kingdom of Heaven is like…” each instance is used to correct to easy misconceptions about
the Kingdom of Heaven. It is exponentially more powerful than it appears and more valuable
than you think. So let us let Jesus be our teacher and our treasure.
PART I | Kingdom Power (Seeds and Leaven)| Matthew 13:31-33
Matthew 13:31-33 | 31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is
like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all
seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that
the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” 33 He told them another parable. “The
kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it
was all leavened.”
Misconception #1 - When we look at the size, power, and influence of world and we look at
God Kingdom we think we are aligning ourselves to something weak and small when in fact it is
something great and strong. Jesus, in his correction of our misconception doesn’t compare the
kingdom to the mighty cedars of Lebanon, or say it’s like the great temples of Athens, or it’s
growth and power will spread like the conquering armies of Rome where you can easily see
their progress by each new city under their occupation? Why? Because the Kingdom of Heaven
does not look like the kingdoms’ of men. Our kingdoms are defined by what we can see, what
we can control, and what we can possess. God’s kingdom is different than ours. It is defined by
what is beneath the surface, relentless expanding, ultimately victorious, and eternally valuable.
Mustard Seed - When there is a sower there is purpose and intentionality in what is being
grown. But why is Jesus comparing the kingdom to things that are small? He doesn’t want his
followers to be consumed with the perception the kingdom appears to be now, but by the
promise of what is to come. Size doesn’t matter to God. He is able to make something great,
big, mighty, strong, stable, and a refuge; from something the world sees as completely
insignificant and infinitesimal. The mustard seed compared, to the greatest kingdom the world
had seen Rome would have looked incredibly insignificant. Here we are looking at popular
culture and saying, where is the kingdom of God? How can it compete in such a forest full of
robust trees already established already bearing fruit of their own sort, already blocking out the
sun with their shade already covering the ground with a thick canopy. Jesus shows us while
things in the kingdom start small, they will not stay that way. It will grow in ways you cannot
imagine from the surface. Nothing about a mustard seed says “Big tree!” Mustard seed is small
but becomes a large 10ft tall tree. On that tree birds come and don’t just make a pit stop, but
actually build their home there. They are secure in that tree. Jesus teaching is mixing something
old and with something new, let’s look at God’s promise in Ezekiel.
Ez 17: 23-24| 23 On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and
produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade
of its branches birds of every sort will nest. 24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I am
the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and
make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.”
Birds represent the nations - The kingdom is going to include refuges from every tribe.
Christianity may not be the dominate force in our current culture but do not mistake that for the
kingdom of God failing to grow or even shrinking. There is rapid growth in Africa, China, South
America, Korea, and Eastern Europe. We are discouraged but things looked even bleaker for
Jesus followers. When they look at their world they see their religious heritage of Judaism
encompassing every aspect of their civil and social lives, if they look beyond their context they
see Rome dominating every corner of the known world where spiritually they have their cults of
the pantheon of “gods” they worship. They are not a silent majority or even a significant
minority, in their eyes they are it. “Jesus you’re talking about a kingdom, but we’re not seeing
more than a small camp out.” Jesus is giving them and us hope. Jesus doesn’t talk about
how it is a seedling, or when it is just sprouting, or during the first big wind or storm. Or the first
fall when the leaves come off or winter when it looks dead. He says it’s a seed now, but it will be
a great tree. Don’t worry or be discouraged about the process, trust the final product. I
say it’s going to be a tree. It will be a tree. We can look back and see Rome is no more, those
religions are no more, at some point the US will be no more and there will be one kingdom high
and lifted up. We struggle with believing God works with small beginnings because we despise
what is small and insignificant. But that is precisely how God the sower has chosen to work to
show it’s His work. 1 Cor 1:72 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the
wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; Because the kingdom is all
encompassing, it impacts all the world.
Leaven in the Flour - Even if we cannot see the growth happening Jesus tells us another
parable about leaven and flour or dough so we can understand how the kingdom continues to
work, spread, and change everything it’s comes in contact with. Bakers would take a part of
baked bread that had risen and put it into flour to prepare it to rise when it was time to bake.
Again, Jesus is intentional in his language he says “Three measures of flour” It’s the amount
Sarah used in making cakes for Lord’s servants in Gen 18, Gideon in Judge 6:19 and Hannah in
1 Sam 1:24. Dough will not change its self or make itself rise. Change has to come to it. A tiny
piece of leaven has the power to change an entire lump of dough. The leaven is hidden in the
dough. It is working below the surface. On the outside the process cannot be seen but the
effects are undeniable. Test the dough in a fire and it will rise! What is previously unseen cannot
be ignored when the dough is baked for its purpose. Jesus makes an interesting choice in
speaking about leaven to describe God’s kingdom. Leaven had a negative connotation in
Judaism, holy bread was supposed to be unleavened. Even in the NT leaven was a connotation
for the infectious nature of sin. 1 Cor 5:6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little
leaven leavens the whole lump?
So what’s his point? The point is, the kingdom of Heaven is infectious. Let’s call it a good
virus. The very people Jesus used to leaven the dough of the world are those the world would
reject and despise. Tax collectors, fishermen, those of ill repute. Kingdom power is on display
when what the world has rejected is used to change the world. Leaven does not stay contained.
It cannot let that which it comes in contact with remain unchanged. The lump of dough becomes
defined the leaven. The Kingdom of God has the ability to permeate the whole world. It will not
be limited, it will change what it seeks to change. That change is internal. It has to do with each
of us individually and as a body. Why do we struggle with this? Because we rely merely on what
we are able to see. We are captivated by what is plainly seen in front of us. So when things are
going well we are excited, things aren’t clearly going as well as we think they should and we can
easily get discouraged or worse even disillusioned. We live in a part of the country where
churches don’t have a lot of culture influence or political power. We are called to faith and faith
is…. Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not
seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. Because the kingdom is
infections it will impact all of life.
Comfort #1 – Because God’s Kingdom is powerful, we do not need to fear the kingdoms
of this world.
First two parables are about the influence of the kingdom. The kingdom of Heaven will not arrive
and leave the world unchanged. While appearing small it has the promise of overshadowing all
other kingdoms and acting as a refuge and shelter people from around the world. But what does
it matter how powerful something becomes unless what is becoming is of ultimate value? The
kingdom has power and value.
PART II | Kingdom Value and Sacrifice Matthew | 13:44-46
Matthew 13:44-46 | 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man
found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one
pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Misconception #2 – We think in trusting and following God we are giving up so much for so
little, when in fact, we are giving up so little for so much more. The call of the Gospel (the
invitation to life with God in Jesus Christ) the call to come to God is NEVER a call to
something less than; it is always a call to something more and greater than what we see
at normal or believe is natural. That brings us to the treasure in the field. The fullness of the
Kingdom is hidden. Not uncommon for things of value to be buried to protect them and keep
them from being stolen. This guy wasn’t treasure hunting, he was living his life maybe even
content with it when he stumbled upon this treasure in a field. You could say “He didn’t find the
treasure, the treasure found him.” While, common law at the time said if you found treasure you
could keep it, there could of course be disputes. Buying the field was the surest way to secure
possession of the treasure. When found and understood, the kingdom is seen as so
valuable possession, becomes obsession. Nothing else is seen as valuable compared to the
kingdom of God. This isn’t a moderate, middle of the road, balanced, picture of Christianity. This
is zealous, radical, life changing, life giving, all-consuming desire for joy that can only be found
in one place. It is a completely natural and unrestrained redirection of all affections. How is this
possible? That is the power of the value of the kingdom. It brings joy that leads to action!!! It’s
giving over everything, why? Because it’s worth it!! I think right now the temptation is sell and
leave when in fact God might be calling you to endure and stay. There is kingdom work right
here in Snohomish County, there is kingdom work to be done right where you work and live.
How can I say that, because God determines the times and places we live in, He has placed
you in specific fields. It doesn’t have to look the same for everyone but it does have to be a
wholesale change in your affections, desires, goals, and actions.
Phil 3:7-8 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count
everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his
sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain
With the field it doesn’t say if the man who found the treasure was seeking it. With the pearl the
merchant was searching for something. Bible is clear, on our own no one seeks for God.
(Romans 3:11) However, we are not all apart from God. Ecc 3:11 says 11 He has made
everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he
cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. If you are seeking it is
because God put it into your heart. The merchant is seeking for something of value, something
real, something specific. Both the man with the treasure and the merchant completely divest
themselves of all that they have to acquire something they find to be of greater value. But a
difference in the merchant and the man who found the treasure is we could make a mistake with
the first parable and say “well he got the treasure and now he can use that treasure to get
something he really wants”. With the parable of the pearl the pearl IS what he really wants! The
prize is not in profit that could be had, but in the possession of the pearl. You get to be with
God!! Not, I get to have stuff God can get me. The pearl (Life with God) is the only thing that
will satisfy the deep longing we have to be satisfied. There is exclusivity to having one pearl. It
doesn’t say he finds a string of pearls or some pearls and some rubies and some gold. There is
one, and only one. Jesus is clear he is the way the truth and the life, no one come to the father
or enters the kingdom except through Him. One pearl, one God, one kingdom worth trading
everything for. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 | 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God
and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony
given at the proper time.
Pearls have a great value. Something is only as valuable as what someone will actually pay for
it. We see the value of the kingdom not by what we are willing to pay for it, but what was actually
paid for it. We screw up value all the time. “This painting is worth 6 million and it just sold at
auction for $500k, you know what the value is? $500k.” We undervalue the kingdom because
we know we’re willing to give up very little. Our words say what are ideals are, our actions show
what our values are. We show what we see as valuable by how we spend our time, talent, and
treasure. When the kingdom is found it should be of greater value to you in such a way that
everything else pales in comparison. The response to the kingdom is a natural one. In the last
two parables neither the man with the field or the merchant with the pearl have to be convinced
of its value. They don’t have a realtor or salesman trying to show them. That is what gives me
as a pastor great freedom and peace, that I am not in sales, my only hope for anyone it they
would become supremely captivated by the kingdom of heaven because it has been revealed to
Comfort #2 – Because God’s kingdom is eternally valuable and exponentially stratifying
we don’t have to rely on the fleeting treasure of this world to satisfy our thirsty souls.
Kingdom Sacrifice (price) You say ok, I am in! I want the field, I want the pearl. I am ready to
pay the price!
Here is the problem, we can’t give it all up. We won’t. On our own we will keep one foot in the
field and one hand on our stuff. We’ll desire the pearl, but we won’t make the necessary
sacrifices to obtain it. The truth is we don’t have enough even if we gave all we had. That is the
lie of religion that if some how you can give up all the right stuff, make your life right you can
purchase the field. The problem is we don’t have enough give up to purchase anything! We
don’t have assets spiritually; we only have debt. Because of our sin we owe God. All we have to
give is sin! God takes it, and in exchange He gives us His treasure. Rom 6:23 For the wages of
sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We can’t “sell all we have” and acquire access to a valuable kingdom. We are spiritual debtors,
daily making withdrawals from a pay day loan place incurring more debt. We need to see our
desperation and God’s response of mercy, grace, and compassion that lets us have abundant
life we could never earn.
Isaiah 55: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come,
buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Just because it’s free to us doesn’t mean it wasn’t paid for with a great cost! The reason God
can give us that gift freely is because the price was paid by Jesus on the Cross. Jesus Paid the
Price for the Kingdom. That price was nothing less that the royal blood of the king’s own Son.
Jesus bleed so we could enter the kingdom. Not begrudgingly or reluctantly but with the same
joy and zeal of the man who bought the field. Hebrews 12: 2 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and
perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,
Our debt (sin), our destiny (death) met by His payment (perfection and sacrifice), motivated by
Joy because it would purchased our freedom and our very lives. Outwardly unimpressive and
seemingly insignificant he was buried like a seed, His kingdom has power shown in resurrection
bursting forth and spreading to every corner of the world and infecting every cell of our soul with
the virus of life. Our life now and forever with Him is seen as valuable because of what was paid
by Him to acquire it for us.
Phil 2:5-8 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he
was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied
himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in
human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a
This shows the character of the God we worship and the king we serve. He is God, he didn’t
have to give up anything, He could have easily forsaken us, but He is full of mercy; to the point
of taking on our punishment as his own, on the cross. He is gracious to the point of giving us the
field and the pearl we did nothing to earn. We understand our value to God the more we
understand the price that was paid for our souls. 1 Cor 7:23a You were bought with a price; We
live in response not to what we would pay for our entrance into the kingdom, but what WAS paid
for our entrance into the kingdom when we Trust Jesus!
More in Parables
August 16, 2020Parables | Parable of the Wedding Feast | Matthew 22:1-14
August 9, 2020Parables | Parable of the Persistent Neighbor | Luke 11:1-13
August 2, 2020Parables | Parable of the Tenants | Matthew 21:33-46