INTRO: Among the parables of Jesus, I imagine this one is among the best known. Although Mark does not refer to it as a parable, Matthew does. Then, in vv. 33,34 reference is made to the fact that Jesus taught in parables ... "without a parable spake he not unto them...". The use of word pictures was, and is, a wonderful device to assist the memory of students. In this case, Jesus also uses another good educational technique. He began the lesson by asking a question. Immediately, this involves the hearers in the teacher/learner situation. Jesus was often asked questions. Too often they were not asked from pure motives. But Jesus frequently asked questions, too. His questions had the purpose of teaching important lessons.
I. TO WHAT COULD HE COMPARE THE KINGDOM? MUSTARD SEED!
A. So, what about the mustard seed?
1. Jesus notes that it is "less than all the seeds"
2.it is not the smallest seed known to man - but it is very small
3. so small is the mustard seed that it was used proverbially in that day for something that is very small
4. so, Mt 17:20 - "...faith as a grain of mustard seed..."
B. The power of small beginnings
1. I expect the disciples recognized they were not numerous
2. how would the kingdom of God grow with such a feeble beginning?
3. and look at them ... nothing powerful about them
4. but Jesus knew about the power in seed
C. So, again, we recognize a sower, seed and sowing
1. the latent power in the seed is enormous
2. but the seed must be planted by someone who believes in its power
3. that is exactly the process by which the kingdom of God would grow
4. passionately believing men would sow the powerful seed (God's word), and, once sown, the seed would grow
D. A bit of comment about small things
1. Zech 4:8-10 - "...who hath despised the day of small things?" (Hag 2:3)
2. Mt 10:42 - "...a cup of cold water only..."
3. Mt 25:34-36 - small things ... but significant things
4. small things have a way of growing into larger things - unfortunately, we do not often have the benefit of knowing, seeing the larger thing
II. GROWTH PERHAPS UNEXPECTED FROM A SEED SO SMALL
A. "...it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs..."
1. Mt 13:32 - "...and becometh a tree..."
2.the mustard plant could grow to be 10' tall (usually, 5', or so)
3. so, of the herbs with which Jesus' world was familiar it grew to be the largest of the herbs
4. it was so large that birds could nest in its branches and find comfort in its shadow
B. A word about the birds and branches...
1. some suggest various lessons from birds/branches in this parable
2. among the suggestions, since there would be a variety of birds, the kingdom is made up of various religious groups - or, the branches are groups
3. but speculation about the birds/branches has no scriptural foundation
4. aside from the fact that the kingdom is a place of comfort and nourishment for its citizens, the birds have little to do with the message here
III. THE WIDE USE OF PARABLES BY JESUS
A. Mark notes that Jesus used many "such parables" in His teaching
1. a teachers must takes students from the known to the unknown
2. because His hearers knew only about earthly kingdoms, Jesus faced the challenge of bringing them to a knowledge of the kingdom of God
3. He could have simply told His disciples, "The kingdom of God will grow ...don't worry"
4. but by using a parable of the familiar the lesson was well reinforced
B. Jesus apparently always took pains to explain parables to His disciples
1. while others may have some understanding ("as they were able to hear it"), Jesus needed for His disciples to know exactly what the parables meant
2. but there is something else here, too - the disciples sought the company of their teacher!
3. when the crowds dispersed, they remained to be with Him
4. some of the most profitable time one can have with a teacher is that time after the class when you can informally inquire, ask for clarification
CLOSE: Spend time with the parables of Jesus. In their nature they are more easily remembered that a formula or a list of precepts.
Cecil A. Hutson
21 January 2007
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)