Reading: Matthew 13. 31-33, 44-52
31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 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.”
33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty poundsof flour until it worked all through the dough.”
44 “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.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked. “Yes,” they replied.
52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” (NIV)
In this week’s reading, we see Jesus tell us five parables, five snapshots of the kingdom of heaven. But, interestingly, we see most of the materials he uses for these parables are not very special ones, and don’t look very impressive. They are just ordinary things, such as mustard seed, yeast, or a fishing net, which can be found easily anywhere around us, and a farmer and a merchant who found a precious pearl are the people just like us. I think Jesus could have used something special, for example, an exotic or beautiful plant, to describe the kingdom of heaven. But, he preferred the mustard seed, very tiny little seed. Therefore, what we can catch from this story is that the kingdom of heaven is not somewhere unreachable, but available to us all amongst our everyday lives. I think this ordinariness is very important, as it gives us hope and comfort. In this sense, we are blessed as ordinary people who meet and worship at the ordinary building (although it is not possible at the moment because of coronavirus). This ordinariness is to lead us into the presence of God, as his kingdom comes little by little, slowly and quietly, as the yeast works in the flour and affects every part of the dough. What’s amazing is that just a small amount of yeast can change a large amount of flour. And, it is about not only the change in size, but also and more importantly the change in quality. Likewise, God’s Word is to change the world slowly and secretly, and surely.
People often say: ‘Where God rules, there the kingdom is’. And, we join that kingdom, when we trust in Christ as our Saviour. I am sure you agree to this definition. But, the trouble is whether or not we obey his rules properly in his kingdom and follow his commands as we should, and therefore, enjoy all the blessings from God. It’s not that easy. What I am saying is that to choose to follow the rules and commands, is not just a matter of choosing a better life, but a matter of choosing life or death, which is much more serious than you ever thought. Once you choose life, then, you are to commit yourself to it totally, as the farmer who found treasures went away and sold everything to buy the field, because it becomes the highest priority in your agenda. Amen.
Jesus taught us to pray: Your kingdom come, your will be done.
Let us pray that in our lives God’s kingdom may come –
surprising like the mustard seed; and in secret like the yeast.
Let us pray that God’s kingdom may seem to us as valuable as treasure or an expensive pearl.
Let us pray that we may be challenged, even in these strange times, to be committed to our part in bringing in God’s kingdom, now and always. Amen.