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Mar 18, 2018

Kingdom Expectations & Realities

Kingdom Expectations & Realities

Passage: Matthew 13:24-43

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Parables That Change the World

Keywords: evil, expectations, kingdom, parable

Summary:

If Disney's Magic Kingdom is supposed to be "the happiest place on earth," then what should we expect of "the kingdom of heaven"? These Kingdom parables in Matthew 13 are sure to re-calibrate our expectations of life in that Kingdom and what we do with evil in this world.

Detail:

Kingdom Expectations vs. Realities

Matthew 13:24-43

March 18, 2018

Coming to something with a certain expectation/hope:

  • Disneyland/Magic Kingdom: visions of…happy, laughing kids, no lines, constant activity, perfect temps, no closed attractions, etc.  Reality:  LONG lines, crying kids, sweltering/rainy weather, closed attractions, expensive food, etc.

No wonder that, with The Magic Kingdom in everyone’s heads, when we read Jesus’ words in the Gospels with the phrase “The kingdom of heaven is like…”, our minds automatically conjure up some wonderful idea of heaven on earth.  Problem is, our vision of the right-now, right-here “Kingdom of heaven” often doesn’t match at all what Jesus said it would be. 

So turn to Matthew 13:24 today where we’re going to read 3 short parables.  I’m not going to give very much commentary on them today.  I’ll save that for next Sunday.  But all three parables speak of ONE CENTRAL TRUTH that I want us to grapple with today in the spiritual battles we are all engaged in IF you are seeking to live a crucified life in Jesus.

Kingdom Parable #1:  The Wheat & the Weeds

“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

            Now, skip to Jesus’ interpretation of this parable beginning in vs. 36.

36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

Here is a simple explanation of what different things are in this parable.

  1. The one who sowed the good seed = the Son of Man/Jesus
  2. The field = the world
  3. The good seed = sons/daughters of the kingdom
  4. The weeds = sons/daughters of the evil one
  5. The enemy who sows them = the devil
  6. The harvest = the end of the age
  7. The harvesters = angels

The central teaching point of this parable is that…

While Christ is raising up a harvest of fruitful, righteous people, Satan is raising up evil people in the same field at the same time.

What does that do to our conceptions of “the kingdom of heaven”???  (Not paradise.  Not “heaven” as we think of it.  Too much evil right next to what God is doing.)

            Furthermore, this parable addresses our tendency to want to root out evil people when we see them hanging around and choking out good and godly growth in others.  What does it say we should DO with the “weeds” that Satan sows in this world right around God’s good seed? 

  • Become spiritual “weed-wackers”?
  • Become spiritual “weed-eathers”? “Weed-pickers?” 

We’re to “let both grow together until the harvest.”  This isn’t a blanket prohibition by God to do nothing about evil in the world around us.  But I do think it is clearly a call to not think it is our job to root out all evil in people around us or even in the church.  It isn’t even our job to judge who is “saved” and who isn’t.  We’ll certainly know people by their fruit in the end.  But we can spend so much energy, time and effort trying to get a “pure 100% good seed field” around us that we end up damaging and destroying “the good seed” of God’s sincere saints. 

EXAMPLES:

  • The Crusades in the Holy Lands from 1095-1291 A.D. That effort to root out Islam from the Holy Land has probably been used by Satan to turn more Muslims against Christianity than anything. 
  • Churches that fight and split and Christians that get disillusioned with the church over legalistic demands about how separated we’re to be from the world, over whether someone or some ministry is showing holiness enough.

Q:  What’s the best way for good seed to diminish the effect of bad seed?  OUTGROW IT!  Grow faster than it does.  Be healthier, more robust, live taller, etc.  If we will focus on spiritual growth in Jesus Christ, we will naturally be stronger, take up more of the “spiritual field” than weeds do. 

Let’s go to the other 2 parables.  Keep in mind that they are teaching virtually the same truth: 

The Kingdom of Heaven grows right alongside the work of Satan.

Kingdom Parable #2:  The Parable of the Mustard Seed

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.”

            Here the kingdom is compared to a single, small seed that grew up to be a plant big enough for birds to come and “perch in its branches.”  If you go back to the beginning of this chapter, you’ll see the Parable of the Sower and the seeds that were scattered on the road, on rocky and shallow soil and in good soil.  The birds there are “the evil one” (vs. 19).  So it is reasonable to assume that the large mustard plant that grows large from one small seed is descriptive of the Kingdom of God.  It started with a handful of unknown people in a backwater area of the world and has, over the years, transformed more people in more parts of the world than any other religion. 

            But that very growth is what has attracted the “birds” to come and “perch in its branches.”  Wherever you find the church, you find ungodly people and evil hanging around, weighting it down, pooping in the branches, picking at the good fruit, etc.  Evil is never content leaving good people alone.  Just look at how it always moves from wanting to just “be accepted” to demanding that it be dominant and require good people to support it.

ILL:

  • Abortion in American in the last 45 years has gone from getting status as a “right” to demanding that we ALL accept that right and actually spend our hard-earned money to pay for that “right” for other people. (See new WA State law providing abortions for illegals, in all health plans, etc.)
  • Sexuality: acceptance of gay lifestyles became gay marriage became destruction of any businesses not supplying services to support gay marriage (bakers, photographers) to vilifying anyone disagreeing with and not being totally supportive of the LGBTQrstuv radical agenda in schools, work places, etc. 

But that is just what Jesus said would happen in this world we live in.

Kingdom Parable #3:  Yeast in Dough

Vs. 33--He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

This parable presents the biggest challenge, I think, to know the proper interpretation.  Essentially the argument boils down to this:

1.)  The yeast signifies sin (as it virtually always does in Scripture) that permeates a huge mass of flour/dough. 

2.) The yeast signifies the Gospel that permeates the entire world. 

The latter sounds nice because that is precisely how the Gospel has infected the whole world as God’s people have mixed it into every culture, every nation, every people group.

 But the problem is that this interpretation doesn’t fit how yeast/ leaven was seen as symbolic of sin in the Old and New Testaments.  So if the yeast is the evil in the world and the flour is the people/work of God, then Jesus is stressing that evil is going to be mixed into virtually every part of the “divine dough” of the church.  It is going to impact all of us in some way. 

Isn’t this precisely what so many of us as Christians are frustrated with living in this world?  Sin and sinners are all over!  Evil and the enemy of our souls is pushing in on us, affecting us, “pooping on us” all over the place like a bunch of wild turkeys!  We cry out to God, “STOP this evil!  STOP these evil people!  Get rid of the murderous despots and the drug dealers and the child abusers and….!”  And God says, “NOPE.  I’m going to use their presence in your world and your lives to make you more fruitful, more faithful, deeper spiritually, stronger, etc.” 

So, for the rest of the morning, we’re going to get stronger and grow taller.  We’re going to address some specific areas of life where we need God to fight on our behalf, to protect our bodies and souls, work in and around us and our loved ones and keep sowing that really “good seed,” that “mustard seed” of the Gospel in our world. 

PRAYER is one of the most powerful weapons we have for defeating and addressing evil in our lives and world.  It is also what God wants to use to remind us that he loves grow His Kingdom.  If we pray Jesus’ heart/will specifically and He chooses to answer those prayers so we can see them, it will revolutionize how we view the evil world we live in. 

So we’re going to engage in focused prayer for the remainder of this morning.  Most of it will be in our large group.  One short time of prayer will be in smaller groups.  Some of it you will be the hands of Jesus on someone as you pray.  Other times you might be the object of another’s prayer.

Season 1:  The launch of Paul, Apostle of Christ this coming week in 30-40 countries and hundreds of cities across the world.  WE have the privilege and responsibility of being the home church for the heart and brains behind this movie (and his family), Andrew. 

  • National conference call yesterday: War Room prayer people who receive 4,000 inquiries and prayer requests/week; head of Billy Graham Prayer Team, Florida to Hawaii, NY to CA.
  • Wednesday night 6-7p.m. national prayer call
  • Use of the testimony of Paul to encourage the persecuted church around the world…and convict persecutors.

I want you to hear his heart for the Scriptures and the biblical story of Paul in this video short about the biblical accuracy of this movie.  Watch.  [Video “Biblical Accuracy” from http://www.paulmovie.com/site/videosphotos ]

Call Hyatts up and pray over:

  • Prayer for Andrew, Joanna & family (us too!),
  • for Muslims,
  • for the persecuted church in the world,
  • for salvation of many,
  • for restoration and renewal of wayward saints,
  • for Christians to become bold about witnessing and living for Christ in an antagonistic world.

Section 2:  Infirmed and Afflicted

Section 3:  (Small groups)—Personal needs and needs of our church & city

  • YFC outreach fruit
  • Building Bible Study Communities
  • More workers in THIS harvest field.

Harvest of souls in our city.