Grace and peace to you, from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today, we are looking at the middle of Chapter 13 in Matthew. We’ve been in this chapter for a while now. Each week, we have examined a parable; but this week, we have several mini parables one after the other. So the question is, “Why all these parables together?” The parables are related. Jesus begins each one with the words, “The kingdom of heaven is like…”
My friend, Linda, recently went on a safari in Kenya. She and her two kids had a marvelous time. But when Linda tried to explain to me what the trip was like, she couldn’t put it into words. She just said, “Every time you looked, there was something new.” Maybe that’s what is happening here. Jesus is trying to give his followers an idea of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. But it is hard to put into words they will understand.
So let’s look at these stories. The first two stories involve something very small that grows and grows, until it takes over. Jesus talks about someone planting a tiny mustard seed in a field. First of all, mustard grew wild. It didn’t need to be planted in a garden. That tiny seed grows into a large bush - so large that birds nest in its branches.
In our second story, we hear of a woman who hid leaven in three measures of flour. Leaven was like sourdough starter or yeast, but three measures of flour was about 50 pounds of flour! Adding leaven to that much flour would feed a whole town of people!
The next two stories Jesus tells are about treasure and pearls. In both stories, the men sell everything they have to get the one thing they want. In the end, they may have the prize but they have nothing else left to live on!
If you hear all these stories together, what do you think the Kingdom of Heaven is like? Will God’s Kingdom of love and grace grow and grow in me until it takes over my whole life? Like the yeast and the mustard seed? Will being with God, knowing I am loved, become so important and valued that I will be willing to give up everything else? Well, yes. That’s exactly what will happen.
And if you think about it, it is what God is calling us to. As followers of Jesus, we want God’s love and grace to be with us always, to be the center of our lives, right? When things are going great, we can share that love with everyone around us: going out of our way to be kind to others, to be there for people in need. Isn’t that why we come to church? To remember that God loves us. To take that love out of here today and share it with everyone.
And when times are not so great, when we are sick or abandoned, when we have made mistakes that hurt ourselves and others, when we have lost everything - knowing that we are filled with God’s love no matter what happens may be the only thing we have left to hold on to. Because we know for certain, right down to our toes that we are loved. God will never leave us. We are God’s beloved children, and as Paul says in our Romans reading, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
Please turn to our second reading and read with me from verse 37 on.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death,
nor life, nor angels, nor rulers,
nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That is Good News. Amen.