Parable of the Mustard Seed & Leaven (Upside Down Kingdom series #6)
Jason White
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*This transcript was auto-generated by a transcription service and may differ from the originally spoken content*We're in week six of this upside down message series that we've been in, we're gonna look at a couple of parables that Jesus told as we continue to, again, work our way through this upside down kingdom message series where that's what we've been doing is looking at various parables that Jesus told throughout His earthly ministry. Jeremy pointed out that we've got 60 Kids and adults who are going to mission Arlington in a little while and we're going to be praying over them at the end of the service. I'm so looking forward to praying over them and hearing about what God is going to do in and through their, their lives, they're going to be serving the people of Arlington, Texas who are in need. They're going to be running through different Vacation Bible School Programs and sharing the gospel with kids and others who may not yet know Jesus, and I'm so proud of them. I know you're proud of them. I know you can't wait just like I can't wait to see and hear about what God is going to be doing in their lives. And I don't know how much you know about Michigan or LinkedIn. I mean, I'm no expert, but I've been up there at least once. And I know that I've heard Steve and Jeremy and so many of you guys talk about them a lot and even read some things on their their website. But Tilly Bergen is the one who started this ministry. And her and her family used to be missionaries in South Korea, they moved back to the Arlington area around 1978. And it was around that time that Tilly began asking the question, hey, if we can do missions in Korea, then how come we can't do missions in Arlington right here where we live. And so she began to think about that she began to pray about that. And God didn't really answer her prayer or open any doors very quickly. As a matter of fact, it was seven or eight years after she began thinking about these things. And after she began praying about these things before the Lord opened up the door, and at that time, it wasn't a big door. I mean, it was a little crack. And she just kind of stepped through it and began to kind of meet some of the needs of the people around her and build relationships and started a few in home Bible studies just to talk about Jesus and share the gospel with them. But here we are today, 37 years later, and God's still doing work in and through mission Arlington. It's not just the Bible studies they're doing after school care for kids. They're providing school supplies for kids in need. They offer financial assistance on emergency basis as they provide food for those who are in need. They have dental, medical and counseling service that they provide for people in need. They run sports ministries, they hope groups like ours that are going over spring break, and throughout the summer to be able to put on these different VBS groups and share the gospel with these kids. And the Lord is working in and through those who are going and serving in a mighty way. These are numbers just from 2022. But there were 7600 people who participated in a Bible study through mission Arlington last year 26,000 people who were served at Christmas, and 242 of those came to know Jesus 1300 people who were treated in their dental clinics 3600 received medical assistance. 180,000 people were given food 17,000 Kids came to Rainbow Express, which is their vacation Bible school. And 455 of those kids came to know Jesus. And so there were 697 people who came to know Christ through mission on LinkedIn in that was just last year. Yeah, it's incredible. But it all started with one person who began praying about how God wife might want to work in and through her to reach the people in her area. And she was probably even wondering when she started in the Lord even opened the door if it was going to amount to much of anything. Because there it's such a small beginning. It's similar to the way that Jesus came into our world. It's similar to the way that he began to establish God's Kingdom, which is what it is that he came to do. It was fairly small and seemed insignificant to a lot of people. He was born into humble beginnings. He had 12 fairly insignificant or very insignificant followers that he began to teach and work with and that he was going to hand the ministry off to and then of course, eventually, he was nailed to a cross and he died, a criminal's death. And so even though he had gathered a little bit of a following throughout His earthly ministry, what ever it was that he had seemed to start seemed to die off in a very interesting and really sad way. And so there were a lot of people who were thinking, okay, there might have been something to it, they were hoping there might have been something to this. But it seemed like it was really going to amount to anything because the king of this so called kingdom that he had came to introduce and establish, had even just died and died in a criminals manner. But Jesus had told them about this, they didn't quite get it, they didn't all necessarily see it. He even told them parables about how this was going to work. And they didn't really get it and understand it then either. But two of the parables, these two that we're going to look at today, he told them and gave them some insight as to how this kind of thing was going to work and what to anticipate. So I want to just read the two parables that we're talking about this morning that Jesus told to his disciples and others again, this is found in Luke chapter 13, beginning of verse 18, where it says, Then Jesus asked, What is the Kingdom of God? Like? This is the way he started off a lot of his parables. And just like any other parables, a parable is kind of an illustration and a story. And so he might have even kind of looked around and saw a mustard tree, right? And he goes, Oh, I'll tell you what it's like. He says, it's like a mustard seed which a man took and planted in his garden, it grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches, verse 20, again, he asked, What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about 60 pounds of flour, until it worked all through the dough. So these are two of probably the shortest parables that Jesus told, doesn't look like there's a whole lot there. And quite honestly, I mean, I'm not going to sit here and go like we normally do on a Sunday morning and and verse by verse and really be able to dive into a lot because these are fairly simple pictures here and offer fairly simple truth. But they do provide some very powerful images. And they do help us see ultimately, what Jesus was up to in establishing His kingdom. And so I just want to highlight four truths that we see in these parables that Jesus told and the first one is kind of a duh, right? But it is this that the Kingdom starts off small, the Kingdom did start off small. I mean, he compared it to a mustard seed or to yeast, both of which are very small. I didn't really know what a mustard seed look like. You can see up here on the slide in that guy's hand me that is how small a mustard seed actually is. And Jesus said, The kingdom of God is like that. Like, Oh, really? Okay, let's go get on the invoice. You know, it's it's really small is what he was trying to say. It's gonna appear to be small, at least it's gonna appear to be very insignificant to you guys. And again, it did start off that way. Jesus was born in a manger. I mean, the king of this kingdom, was born in a manger. That's how small and unassuming, this whole thing got started off. Jesus grew up in Nazareth, re may even remember, Nathaniel said in John 146, Can anything good come out of Nazareth? I mean, that tells you a lot about how they viewed the area that Jesus grew up in. It was a small town was an obscure area, the whole kind of region of Galilee didn't get much attention. They was really looked down upon, obviously, from what it is that Nathaniel said, and since Jesus grew up there, then people automatically had a low view of him, you know, what good can come out of there? How good Could he really be? And so even though he began to attract a lot of people, as we said earlier, by the end of it when he died, Jesus had a relatively small number of followers. Matter of fact, the Bible even tells us how many of them there were a next chapter one anybody know? Somebody just doesn't want to say I know at least one of you knows out there Acts chapter one tells us there are 120 there were 120 disciples after Jesus's death and his resurrection when he met with them. Just before His ascension, there were roughly estimated there's roughly 60 million people that were living in the Roman Empire during the first century at this time. 60 million people. And 120 of them were believers. That's mustard seed size, right? But this is what Jesus said would happen. Right? So this is the first truth of course, that we see. The second one though, which may not be as obvious in it is that the kingdom established is not what was expected. We gather that from the parable because Jesus said, hey, the kingdom of God is like a mustard tree. Well, that wasn't really the image that they were used to thinking about or hearing about when it came to God's kingdom. As a matter of fact, in the Old Testament, the kingdom in Judaism was described as a cedar tree, this massive cedar tree. And so when Jesus says, hey, it's like a mustard tree, then it's kind of like a twist in the story. Well, that's unexpected, because I thought it was going to be this right. And it certainly was unexpected to most people. Because most people thought that when the Messiah came, he was going to come in this magnificent fanfare, kind of take over all at once, right? He was going to establish military power and a political kingdom for the Jewish people, none of which happened. Now, Jesus will come back again, and things will be different when Jesus does come back. But at this time, it was inaugurated by and through humble service. And through a sacrificial death on a criminal's Cross, which was very, very unexpected. What good could come out of this, right? Today, there are a lot of us who expect this whole kingdom of God thing to be different as well, though, I mean, it was 2000 years ago, when people were expecting a different kind of Kingdom than the one that was established. And there are a lot of us who are expecting a different kind of Kingdom as well. Maybe even you're searching this whole Christianity thing out and wondering about who Jesus is, and how this whole thing can impact you or influence your life in some way. And maybe you come with expectations about rules and, and religion and a bunch of to do list, you can do this, and you can't do this, and you better make sure you're doing these things, or else kind of a thing. But that's not the picture that gets described. That's not the message that Jesus came to give. Jesus said that He was the life he came to give abundant life and it's about grace, He came to gift you that life and gift you that forgiveness, it's not something that you can earn by your own merit. A lot of us even hear that message and say yes to Jesus, and we become a part of His kingdom. But then we go right back into and fall into the ways of the world with religion and working our way and expecting God to be more proud of us based on all these things. And we had these expectations of what we should be doing. And it's not always what was or is expected. So the kingdom starts off small, the kingdom established wasn't what was expected, and sometimes still isn't what's expected today. The third truth, of course, again, kind of a dove based on the way he tells the parable, but the kingdom grows eventually, exponentially in size. I mean, this is the main image that we get, you take the small, very small mustard seed that we saw on the guy's hand, and it grows into a mustard tree or a shrub. We don't really know exactly what Jesus was referring to here. Scholars debate this. Some scholars think Jesus was talking about a salvadora Persica, a salvadora Persica. You know what that is? Right? Yeah, somebody's a botanist out here. Those trees grow to be about 25 feet tall, they're big things. The other one that they say Jesus could have been talking about as a sign sign napus Niagara, you know what a sign Appice. Niagara is, of course, you don't need to explain that. It's a member of the mustard family can grow about 10 feet tall. Either way, you know, 25 feet, 10 feet, not massive. There are certainly other massive trees and shrubs that get bigger than that. But compared to the size of that mustard seed and the guy's hand is huge. I mean, that's exponential amount of growth that we see there. It doesn't really matter exactly what Jesus was referring to. The point was, it's going to grow to be much larger than what it was in the beginning. The other parable when he mentioned the yeast or the leaven and added to about 60 pounds of flour or so which was a huge amount and you just a tiny bit of it eventually begins to permeate and work its way all throughout the yeast gives us the same kind of image here. Now some will say that Jesus was being negative here, that Jesus that wasn't a positive thing for him to say that the kingdom of God is like the yeast here and the reason that a lot of people say that or some people say that is because most of the time then again, most of the time in the Bible, you Yeast are love. And when it was referred to was mentioned in a very negative manner, you may even remember that Jesus referred to the yeast of the Pharisees, right? He said, Hey, you guys better be on guard, you better watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees. And obviously, he wasn't meaning that in a good way. So Jesus had even used it in a negative way. But a couple of things. Number one is, just because it had been used a certain way doesn't mean that it always had to be used that way, right? I mean, we know that to be true. Jesus seemed to almost always talk about the Kingdom of God, in a positive way, right? I mean, when he's talking about the Kingdom of God, he's talking about it in a positive way. And then third, this one is told together with the parable of the mustard seed, which was in a positive way. And so I think it's just two different ways, two different images, that Jesus is saying much of the same thing, that the kingdom of God is going to start off small, it's going to seem insignificant in the beginning, but it's going to grow exponentially in size. Now, the cool thing is, we even begin to see this happen after Jesus tells this to his disciples, you can picture him, you know, telling them about these things, and, and it was going to come and then we even again, I've referenced acts one earlier, and it was the last time that Jesus met with his disciples after His death and resurrection, and before He ascended back to heaven, and, and you guys know what he said there and Acts chapter one, verse eight, he said, but you guys will receive power, when the Holy Spirit comes on you. And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and all the way to the ends of the earth. In other words, Hey, guys, you may be a mustard seed right now, but I'm about to make you into a tree. Right? I mean, you're all just standing here, and there's just a few of you. But this is going to go to Jerusalem, spread to Judea, and Samaria, and all the way to the utter ends of the earth. And it even begins to happen in the very next chapter of hex. I mean, it's Acts chapter two, the Holy Spirit does come on, then Peter stands up and shares the gospel to all of these people around. And we're told that 3000 People accepted his message and became believers. So now there's 3120 of them, right. But that's a lot more than what they had, the mustard seed was beginning to grow into a mustard tree. We continue to see this all throughout the book of Acts. I mean, that's what the whole thing is about how Jesus walked in and through the apostles, and those that came to know Jesus through their ministry, and were added into the kingdom. And he began to do the same work through them. It's the message and we see these pictures of the kingdom growing and growing and growing. As a matter of fact, again, we had 123,000, in one day, by the end of the century, by 100 ad, it was estimated that there were 17,000 Christians at that time. By 180 ad, it was estimated that there were around 100,000 Christians in the Roman Empire at that time. And then 70 years after that, in the year 250 ad, it was estimated that the number of Christians went from 100,000 to 2 million in the Roman Empire, that Jesus said, This is what was going to happen. It's going to start off, it's going to seem small and insignificant, but I'm going to water it, I'm going to be involved in it. And I'm the one who makes things grow. And now these are not parables about how every single person on the planet gets to be a part of the kingdom. When you hear this and the the yeast kind of works its way all throughout the dough, you can think well, great, everybody's gonna get to be a part of the Kingdom way that one day. Well, it's not it's something to be received. It's something that all of us missed. Take a step of faith, you see that all throughout the book of Acts as they're presented the gospel and some receive it and some still reject it. Jesus offers it to us out of a free gift, forgiveness, abundant life, eternal life. But yet it is something that each of us have to take a personal step of faith in and receive ourselves. Whether you're a kid here, whether you're an adult, whether you've been coming to church for most of your life, or whether this is your first time ever here or you're watching online, it all comes down to each one of us having to make a personal step of faith and receive Jesus's gift of grace to be added into His kingdom. Obviously, as we just talked about and see, a lot of people came to say yes, and Jesus, a lot of people had their lives changed so much so that we're still talking about this 2000 years later. but we don't want you to be the one who misses out on it. Because Jesus came for you out of his love for you as well. And so my hope and prayer is that you'll say yes to him if you've never taken a step of faith. So the kingdom starts small, that kingdom would be different than was expected the kingdom would grow in size. Here's the last thing we see from this parable, the Kingdom provides comfort and shelter or ultimately the kingdom provides rest. In the parable of the mustard seed. Jesus says that after the kingdom grew from a mustard seed into a tree, he said that birds came and perched in its branches, these birds found a place of shade. They found shelter, they found security, found life and rest. You may even remember in Matthew 11, Jesus says, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. says, Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest for your souls, maybe you're even flying around in life right now trying to find security and trying to find assurance and trying to find peace and fulfillment in your life. But guys, you'll never find it in anything ultimately, other than Jesus, Jesus is the kingdom. And as he came to give his life for you, he went to the cross so that he could purchase the forgiveness that you needed in order for him to put that life and that peace and that rest and that security in you. And again, it's a step that we all have to take. It's something that we all have to receive. And when we do even as the trials and the the tribulations, the the times of suffering that we go through, we still have security in Him, we still have peace in Him, we still have life in Him, we still have ultimate rest in Him. And so it may have started out small, may have seemed insignificant may have been surprising the way that it was established and got off. But Jesus has certainly grown his king kingdom and as our King, he's provided for all of our needs, we are complete in Christ when we come to Him. And the thing is, even though we've seen and highlighted this morning, what Jesus was up to in His earthly ministry, what he did through the early church, the same work that Jesus was doing from taking the kingdom from a mustard seed to a tree, or working the yeast through the dough is something that he is still up to today. It's something that he's still up today and you and me, he said to the apostles, you will be my witnesses when the Holy Spirit comes on you. And when you and I put our faith and trust in Jesus, the same Holy Spirit that the apostles got, we get comes to dwell in each one of us as well. And now we become his witnesses in this world. We are the ones who are filled with His power, we are the instrument in his hands, we are the one that he's using to continue the mustard seed transition into a tree working the yeast throughout the dough. You and I become part of His kingdom work. Question is how does that work today? And how does that work in 2023, especially in a context and in a world where even though we see God growing his kingdom, and having done so all throughout the last 2000 years or so, what does it look like here in today's day and age when it seems like we live in a very godless society? And there's all kinds of things that are happening in our world to discourage us in many ways? Well, really, what I would say to you is it happens the same way that we see it happening in the early church and the book of Acts. I mean, when it all comes down to it, what Jesus was doing in and through the disciples was meeting people's needs, and sharing the gospel with them. Just meeting their needs and sharing the gospel, which oh, by the way, sounds a lot like what our youth are going to be leaving to do in just about two hours from now. It sounds a lot like what Jesus has been doing in and through all of those who have been a part of mission Arlington for the last 37 years and I just mentioned to you a minute Gotta go. They're meeting people's needs. And they're opening the door to share the gospel with those people as they meet their needs. So what does he want to do through you and me? The same thing, right here, right here in Tyler, Texas, right here in your own neighborhood right here and your own school right here, in your own place of work. Jesus fills you with the same Holy Spirit puts his power in you, you become the instrument, and he wants to show you and reveal the needs of others around you. He wants to empower you to be able to meet the needs of those once he's revealed them to you. And then he wants to use your voice to share the good news about him to them, so that they can know the same hope that you know and are experiencing in your life, as well. And the same goes for me. So as we get ready in just a few moments to send our kids out and pray that the Holy Spirit will work powerfully in and through them to reach many of those that they will serve in that area. May we pray the same things for ourselves. May we be praying that this week as our kids are on mission in Arlington, Texas, that he will use us on mission in Tyler, Texas, in again, our neighborhoods, our schools, or, well, it's spring break, so the week after in your schools, right, or in your jobs or wherever it is that he's sending you to miss this, what he's brought us together as a church for to encourage each other, to support each other, to worship him together, and to be growing together. And then sending us out, as his church involved in his kingdom work that he's doing. It's his mission, it's not yours, but he is going to use you and you and I get to participate with him in the process. What a privilege. It is. In May it be. So let's pray and ask the Lord to use this in that way. Jesus said is super encouraging to read your word and to see how you told the stories of what was going to happen. I mean, you told the disciples a years before, it was going to be like a mustard seed and grow, it's gonna be like yeast working all through and then sitting on this side of the cross. And many years down the road, we get to see how you've done what you said you were going to do. What an encouragement, how much that grows our faith to read about and hear in these things. And, Lord, we're reminded this morning, though, that your kingdom work continues, and it continues in and through us. So we make ourselves available to you as your church, to be used by you. to impact the world around us, show us the needs that you want to meet, empower us to meet those needs, and embolden us and empower us to share the gospel with those around us. That you open up their hearts to receive your message of love, mercy and grace. And would you change their lives forever in the same way that you've changed ours? Father, I also pray for anyone who might be here this morning, who has been listening to me talk about all this kingdom work that Jesus wants to do in us and through us. But maybe they're here this morning and they're saying I've never taken a step of faith to receive Jesus into my life. I'd love to participate in that kingdom work but I need to take an initial first step to receive Jesus's forgiveness of my sins and come dwell in my life to be able to be at work in this way. Would you continue to open up their hearts in this moment to receive you. mean if that's you this morning, I would even just invite you to pray a simple prayer of faith right now in this moment right here where you are sitting. Or even if you're watching online in this moment, you could just say, Lord Jesus, I recognize their sin in my life and as a holy God, that sin separates me from you. But thank you for sending Jesus. Thank you for sending him to die on the cross for me and right now in this moment, I put my faith and trust in Jesus to be my Lord, my Savior. Please forgive my sins. Please come dwell in me and give me eternal life. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for that. forgiving me thank you for rescuing me and saving me in this moment and now a Jew began to work in me and through me as I get to participate in your kingdom work as well in Jesus name amen



What does a tiny seed that grows into a tree tell us about the Kingdom of Heaven? and how does a little bit of leaven that works its way through a lump of dough reflect the Kingdom? Find out today as we continue our Upside Down Kingdom series!







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*This transcript was auto-generated by a transcription service and may differ from the originally spoken content*