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Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
31 Jesus put before them another parable: “The
kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that
someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the
smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it
is the greatest of shrubs 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 yeast that a
woman took and mixed in with three measures of
flour until all of it was leavened.”
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden
in a field, which someone found and hid; 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 on finding
one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that
he had and bought it. 47 “Again, the kingdom of
heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea
and caught fish of every kind; 48 when it was full,
they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good
into baskets but threw out the bad. 49 So it will be
at the end of the age. The angels will come out
and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and
throw them into the furnace of fire, where there
will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 51 “Have
you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.”
52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe
who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven
is like the master of a household who brings out
of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

Messages are powerful.
The messages we hear influence our
attitudes and the way we live.
It’s getting more difficult each
morning for me to listen to the
national news.
The messages I hear are far from
inspiring:
Smug and divisive ongoing tweets;
a vulgarity laden, contemptuous
interview by a newly appointed
presidential staff person;
failed attempt to Repeal and Replace
the Affordable Care Act due to
refusing necessary bipartisanship.
These and other messages circulating
in the news have the power to impact
our lives – and personally, I don’t
experience these messages as
positive and encouraging.

Many of the messages I hear today
are tainted with selfishness,
arrogance and devaluing others.
This is one reason why I think the
message of Jesus is so very
important for us to hear and share.

Jesus’ message is incredibly different
from the messages we usually hear.
And, Jesus’ message is timeless.

He spoke much of his message in
parables. According to Merriam-
Webster, parables are:
“usually short fictitious stories that
illustrate a moral attitude or a
religious principle.”
Today we hear 5 of Jesus’ parables
concerning the kingdom of heaven.
He compares God’s realm to a
mustard seed, yeast, hidden
treasure, a merchant in search of fine

pearls, and a fishing net. And, along
with these parables, Jesus inserts the
importance of teaching contemporary
application of Jesus’ good news.

Jesus never clearly describes God’s
realm. Rather, he tells what the
kingdom of heaven is like.
This leads many scholars of the Bible
to accept that God’s realm is beyond
human articulation. It is enough for
us to know what the kingdom of
heaven is like – and allow our
imaginations to take it from there.
It is a place of wonder, embrace,
value and influence. And, as Jesus
insists, it is near us, rather than a
faraway place.

While we have 5 brief parables
brought to our attention this
morning, I want to look at only two

of the parables: the mustard seed
and the fishing net.
Two things I find poignant with the
mustard seed. First, a mustard seed
is tiny. What is seemingly
insignificant can have a major
impact. And second, no one knows
how influential it will become.

This past week I heard a story about
Nicholas Tate, a 20-year- old Walmart
worker in Newcastle, Oklahoma.
As the story goes, a woman with
three clinging children approached
the cashier, Nicholas. The woman,
fostering a baby, was using WIC for
certain items. WIC is a form of
federal assistance for low-income
families with children. The baby’s
formula didn’t scan as approved. The
woman was embarrassed because
she hadn’t picked up the correct
formula approved for federal
assistance. The line behind the woman and her
children grew long. Customers were
impatient; they grumbled and threw
dirty looks. A lady the foster woman
knew came up and asked her why
she was causing so much trouble.
The foster Mom told her that she
couldn’t figure out the federal
assistance, and then burst into tears.
But Nicholas stayed calm and called a
manager over to help. They ran the
transaction again, and when the
Mom’s federal assistance was decline,
Nicholas immediately swiped his own
cash card.
Nicholas said: “I felt God was telling
me to pay for it.” The foster Mom
was in shock. Nicholas paid for $60
worth of groceries – and he says it
was worth every penny.
The woman’s tears flowed once
again, this time out of gratitude.
(from CBS News and Yahoo.com)

See how a mustard seed of God’s
generosity can impact lives?
And, we have mustard seeds to
plant.

The second parable I want to
mention compares the kingdom of
heaven to a fishing net, collecting all
types of fish. After catching the fish,
good fish are kept while bad ones are
thrown into the fire. Remember, this
parable is not intended to be taken
literally.
So, is it a parable about judgement?
Or is it a depiction of purifying love?
Jesus teaches and demonstrates
God’s relentless, self-giving love. “A
refiner’s fire does not consume
completely like the fire of an
incinerator. A refiner’s fire refines.
It purifies. It melts down the bar of
silver or gold, separates out the
impurities that ruin its value, burns

them up, and leaves the silver and
gold intact.” (from John Piper, 1987) I
think Jesus is talking about this type
of fire – a refiner’s fire stoked by
God’s amazing love.
This interpretation best resembles
the God Jesus revealed, loved and
served.

So, we have good news to share.
Each one of us can take what we may
consider a mustard seed, plant it and
watch it influence the world with
God’s relentless love.

We have the power to impact this
world for God.
What we have to share is truly good
news. As the Apostle Paul writes:

(For) I am convinced that neither
death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers,

nor things present, nor things to
come, nor powers, nor height, nor
depth, nor anything else in all
creation, will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus
our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Now, that’s good news.

 
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