The Power of Small Things

Matthew 13:31-33 “Small Beginnings”

“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. 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.” 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.”

Another question the followers of Jesus had on their mind is addressed in our passage today. “how can we make a difference? Rome is so big, and we are so small, our temple rulers so powerful, how can we make a difference?”

This is the same question we have today. How can we do something for God? We are so small, we are so old, we don’t have the resources others do.

Mustard seeds are 2mm in size, yet mature mustard plant reach 20 feet high and 20 feet around. Leaven is yeast, only a small amount is needed to change all the dough into bread. Through this small group of people, God would change the world.

The Jews were looking for an army to fight great battles, lead by the Messiah. As they traveled from place to place Jesus told their little groups that they could change the world, not with weapons but with faith. How could they have known that their little group would encompass the world.

Small things can grow to make a difference.

Giant Sequoia trees start out as a seed the size out an oatmeal flake, but grow into the largest trees on earth, 280 ft tall and 28 ft in diameter. Tiny things can bring amazing results.

In 1776 a small group of people defied England and became the United States. That small group would become the most powerful nation on earth.

In 1974 the tiny nation of North Vietnam brought the mighty USA to its knees in defeat.

There is great power in small things.

Perhaps you have been or are where the disciples are. Jesus, our church is to small, we are to old, how can we make a difference, what could you possibly do with us? I know I have.

Zec 4:6 says “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”

Phil 1:6 Says “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

We may not see the possibility, we can not understand how it can happen, yet God is doing great things through our little faith. Keep believing, keep serving, because it is not our age or size that matters, it is our faith and God Spirit working in us that makes great changes in our world.

“Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord”

The parable of the Weeds Matthew 13:24-30 36-43

The parable of the weeds Matthew 13:24-30 36-43

What are the types of seed being sown in the world?

How often do we wish we could just get rid of the bad people?

When do we finally know the weeds from the wheat?

Is there a connection to the parable of the sower?

What connections can you make to the other parables in Matthew 13?

In the parable of the sower Jesus answered why doesn’t everyone understand and come to believe in Jesus? In this parable Jesus tells us the answer to another question we have. Why doesn’t God just kill all the evil people, why not get rid of all the bad people?

The enemy, Satan, has sown weeds in with the wheat. It is obvious to everyone that there are weeds in the field. So, the works ask, “do you want us to go pull the weeds?” It seems like the easy answer. It is often pointed out that the weeds in this passage are a wheat look alike called tares. Since tares and wheat look much the same, it would be impossible to separate the two.

Get me weed pulling in the garden and there is danger. I just don’t have the ability to tell weeds from flowers. This last year we thought we had a volunteer squash plant. The leaves looked like the squash plant we bought, and it was growing strong. By the time we figured out it was not squash it was quite big. Later it bloomed, and we found a holly hock.

We think we know weeds. They are easy to spot. I hear people say it so often. Weeds are not the same color as us, weeds don’t speak the same language as we do. When I was growing up weeds had long hair and wore blue jeans and sandals. The whole basis of ethnic cleansing comes from the idea of pulling out all the weeds. Weeds are Jewish, Weeds are Irish, Weeds are Italian, weeds come from Mexico, China, Africa. We think we know weeds and we are going to rip them out. But our parable warns against this.

If we accept the idea that the weeds in the parable are tares, the wheat look alike. The parable is telling us that we can’t tells weeds from wheat. We may think we can, but God says we can’t.  Since “all have sinned and fall short.” And God proclaims that “there are none that are righteous not even one.” This means everyone starts out a weed and needs to be transformed by God into wheat.

Ask yourself, at what age should God cut the bad people out? How about ten years old? Is it not obvious by ten who is going to turn out a weed? Where might you be if God weeded at age ten? How about twenty? Surly you can tell by twenty? If God weeded at twenty would you have made it? I know a person who waited until she was over 70 to come to Jesus. The fact is that we can’t not tell who the weeds are.

The parable tells us the reason you do not pull the weeds is that you will damage the wheat. Even if you could tell who the weeds are, in the process of pulling the weeds you damage the wheat.

Even if the weeds are obvious, the hate and prejudice against the weeds infects the young wheat. Our nations hatred of those who are different, is damaging our young people. Our young people can never become the beautiful image of God they are meant to be because hate and prejudice have damaged them.

Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said,  ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’   44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,   45so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.   46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?   47And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?   48You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

God says He will sort weeds from wheat at the end of time. Treat everyone as potential Wheat. The person you want to attack because they are different and don’t look like you, may be one of God’s treasured Wheat plants.

Introduction to parables

One of the ways that Jesus taught was the use of parables. Parables are stories or witty sayings that teach a spiritual truth. There are about 39 of them in the Synoptic Gospels but not a one in John’s Gospel. The word Parable comes from the Greek words “Para” which means beside or around, and “Ballo” which means throw. Parable means to throw beside or around, or place beside. A parable is a word picture that illuminates a profound spiritual lesson.

John Macarthur says that Jesus makes a shift to using parables as a response to opposition from Pharisees. Jesus used parables as part of His set of teaching tools. As Jesus traveled about He would use many different methods to teach and parables where a regular part of His teaching style.

Some people would say that Jesus used parables to help explain spiritual ideas and make His teaching easier to remember. Our passage today says that parables actually hide spiritual truth from those are not given the meaning. Matthew 13:11-15 says “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.”
“‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes      and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.”

Jesus is saying that spiritual understanding of the parables is given to some and not to others because God wants things hidden from them.

1 Corinthians 2:6-16 14 “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

Yet parables are not cryptic, like a coded message you take every other word or letter while reading backward. They also do not have secret associations like nursery rhymes “Mary, Mary, quite contrary how does your garden grow? with silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row.” Mary being bloody Mary, Mary the first of England. Silver bells and cockle shells refer to torture implements used on people she hated and murdered. Pretty maids all in a row are the graves of miscarriages, because she bore no heir to the throne.

A better way of understanding a parable comes from Peter, Paul and Mary’s statement of rock and roll music, “but if I really say it, the radio won’t play it, so I lay it between the lines.”

Take Perter, Paul and Mary’s “Puff the Magic Dragon” To some it’s just a song about a boy who grew up. To others it’s about the death of joy in life. The tragic loss of our joy that is still waiting there in the cave for us to return. I will tell you it has nothing to do with smoking marijuana.

Think about this poem by Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

To some it is just a picture of a man on a ride who took the time to enjoy the woods, but what it is really about is depression, and the writers desire for death which seems inviting but to far off for his liking.

Here is my own parable; The Bible is like a doll kept in a display case or a tool kept locked in a box which gives no joy or use to anyone unless it is taken out and read” Where is your Bible? On a shelf, in a box, will you bring it to church, to study? Is it handy at home so you can quickly make use of it?

So, a parable has meaning that you can only get through the work of the Holy Spirit. Everyone may get a surface meaning but there is something that lies beneath that only the Holy Spirit can give you.

This tells us more than a surface reading of the parable is required to get the full meaning of it.

Parables also have layers like and onion. New ideas come to us as we look at it from different angles. The Parable of the lost son has something new to say as you take the Father’s perspective of the event, or the brother who stayed home, then it does if you only look at it from the lost son’s perspective.

So, the intent of looking at the parables Jesus told is to dig deeper into them and have the Holy Spirit reveal their deeper meaning.  I pray that you will enjoy our look at the parables of Jesus.