The Kingdom of Heaven is Like…

by Duane Maust
Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52
July 27, 2008

What do these stories that Jesus told have for us today? Hopefully they will give us new appreciation for what the kingdom is about. What we have today and what we will have in heaven are rewards out of this world.

Jesus told several parables about what the kingdom is like. The little baby Jesus that came was the beginning of God’s kingdom on this earth. The kingdom beginning on the earth seemed small and insignificant, not at all what the Jews were expecting. How can something so great come from a carpenter’s son in Galilee? Jesus was saying that the end result would be totally out of proportion to the beginning.

Here I have some mustard seed. It is very small. When I plant small seeds like this in the garden, I put it in my hand and just let it come through my fingers slowly. You can’t even pour it or you get too much at one place. These tiny seeds will grow to many times bigger than it looks now.

Then Jesus talks about leaven or yeast. It only takes a little bit to make it work. It only takes a spoon full to make a loaf of bread. Only one person could make so much difference for us today. Well, forever.

Layman’s commentary says, “God’s kingdom had not come in the dramatic and outwardly powerful way people were expecting. But Jesus brought assurance that its small beginnings would lead to unbelievably great results. And he taught that, like leaven, the kingdom would be an unseen but powerful force working within the world to bring about transformation.”

Jesus did a lot of teaching by telling stories. Those stories can be called parables. When Jesus tells these stories, he is usually making one simple point. We need to be careful not to try to read too much into a parable. He goes on to a couple of more parables. He is talking about the kingdom again.

Trying to tell people what the Kingdom looks like is difficult to explain. Bob Baldwin says it is like picking figs. You get one view of the figs where you are standing and you pick all you see and then move sideways 6 inches and you see a new crop. When you look at what the kingdom is about, there are so many different layers to see. We will look at the layer we see today.

Read verse 44

Burying your valuables in the ground sounds strange to us, but it used to be done when Jesus was living. Today we usually put our money in a bank. We may put valuables in a safe deposit box. But back in those days there were no banks for common people. Have you ever heard of wealthy people that hide money in their mattresses or in the house somewhere? That is what the people did back there, but they didn’t have mattresses, so they buried it.

They would also hide things in war times to protect things from their enemies. That way if the enemy would raid their house, the enemy would not get everything. Now if they would get hurt in the war or it they just forget where they buried it, it would be there for someone later to find.

Some people wonder what right this person had buying this property like this if he knew about the treasure. The Jewish law said that if a man finds scattered fruit or money, it belongs to the finder. So people listening to the parable would not have thought this man’s actions were unethical. In fact, the man had a right to what he found. If a man came across money or valuables that were obviously lost and whose owner was dead or unknown, the finder had a right to keep what was found, even if it was found on someone else’s property. “Finders, keepers, losers weepers.”

Let’s be careful to not lose sight of the main point of this parable. That is a man found something so valuable that he sold everything he had to get it. He was so excited about finding the treasure that he was willing to do whatever he had to do in order to purchase it.

Are you willing to give everything you have to be about kingdom building? Are we willing to help build the church? Heaven is worth it.

Read verse 45-46

Pearls were viewed very valuable at that time. They viewed them a lot like we think of diamonds today.

Pearl hunting was a very dangerous job. The quality pearls are obtained from the pearl oyster. Since that oyster thrives at an average depth of 40 feet, a pearl isn’t a treasure you just stumble across as you walk along a beach.

Many people would die pearl hunting. When they would dive that deep, they could very easily encounter danger on the floor of the ocean. They didn’t have air-tanks like they would now. They had to hold their breath.

The Bible talks about heaven gates will be made of pearls and the street of gold. Rev. 21 Pearls were something the women would put in their hair. I don’t have an expensive pearl to show you for an illustration. Sorry.

The treasure and the pearl are teaching us about the incomparable value of the Lord’s kingdom, the church. The pearl is an especially appropriate figure for the kingdom because it is the only gem that cannot be improved by man. Think about it. All other jewels have to be cut by skilled craftsmen before they have value as gemstones. But a pearl is perfect when it is found and it can’t be improved by cutting and polishing. In fact one cut from a human hand and a pearl is worthless.

When you think about how much it means to us to be part if the church, to know that Jesus sacrificed his life on the cross so that we might live, and that he is preparing a place in heaven for us with God, how much is that worth to you? You begin to compare those riches with the material things that we accumulate. How can you compare what Jesus did to a new car?

In Matthew 16:26, Jesus used the image of a pair of scales when he asked the question, “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” The salvation of our souls is worth so much more. That’s what Jesus wants us to understand in these two parables about the kingdom.

This last parable has a little different twist.

Read Matt. 13: 47-52

Here I see us pulling a net. The net is the church. Everyone is welcome to come in to the church. All of us become part of that net. We don’t choose who are the quality catches. That is for God to work out. The church will work at fishing.

This parable is using a dragnet in the Sea of Galilee. Sometimes they would hook the net between two boats and at times pull it behind one boat. There could be over 20 different kinds of fish. A sorting process was necessary to eliminate those varieties that were inedible.

Barclay commentary says it this way, “Therefore it is our duty to gather in all who will come, and not to judge or separate, but to leave the final judgment to God.”

This coming week, think more about what the kingdom is all about. There are a lot of things we can think about. What is of worth for me?

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