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June 2, 2024

Your Kingdom Has a Unique History

Passage: Matthew 13:31-35

Spreading out from the Italian peninsula into Greece and Spain, Turkey and Israel, Egypt and Libya, Morocco and Algerian, France and the Netherlands, parts of Germany and up into England, there stand hundreds of remnants left behind by the once glorious power of the Roman empire. Rome was once a kingdom like none other considering their conquest, longevity, infrastructure, and government. Many a historian’s life has been dedicated to just Roman history and some to just one portion of Rome’s long history as an empire. With sagas such as Romulus and Remus, Hadiran’s wall, the salting of Carthage, the Gallic wars, the siege of Jerusalem, the Colosseum, and much more, Rome was quite the kingdom with a grandiose history…but where are they now? Left behind in the dust of this world’s cycle of entropy, never to return.

All kingdoms of this world wax and wane from Babylon to the Mongolian empire, the Egyptians to the Chinese. Many of today’s nations in fact used to be much larger in their imperial ways such as the United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, and Spain. But these kingdoms have waxed and waned as well. Yes, this happens to all earthly kingdoms. And as empires wax and wane, there is one kingdom that endures forever. As thrones fall before the One crowned with many crowns, there remains the kingdom which this crowned one reigns over, and you are a citizen of it. No, I don’t speak of the USA or any other place on this earth. I speak rather of God’s Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven, the Church of God and His ruling of your heart.

This Kingdom may not have a similar history to that of Rome, in fact it may not look like much to those around us, looking like nothing but a tiny mustard seed and three measures of yeast, but through the enlightening which the Holy Spirit gives us through God’s Word, we see that this kingdom is truly a protective mustard tree and a kingdom that has spread thoroughly throughout this world of dough, permeating the hearts of you, me, and other Christians. Yes, this Kingdom has a unique history unlike any other kingdom. It may have rather humble beginnings and appearance, but its impact in this world is widespread, and its durability is eternal. Your Kingdom is truly not of this world, and it has a very unique history.

(We pray…)

To begin our study of this unique kingdom to which we belong, I would like to point out that it is not described to us in a way that transcends our understanding. On the contrary, our Savior, the King of this Kingdom, explains it in plain, everyday terms. He compares this kingdom in terms of gardening and baking, namely mustard seed, and yeast. These terms may not be the most prestigious in their implications. Rather than using terms like purple mountain majesties and amber waves of grain to describe this kingdom, instead we get terms like tiny seed and yeast fungus to describe this kingdom. Let this not concern you, though. For remember, bigger is not always better. Some, in a spirit of impatience and pride, don’t like the subtle nature of God’s Kingdom. Some want a grand outward organization, with golden walls, political prowess, and years of tradition. Others simply want a social organization of it, in which charity is shown, but no word of Christ’s saving love—seed and yeast—are preached. Then there is the temptation to want all the numbers and all the members, but at the cost of sacrificing doctrine for entertainment, ever risking the loss of the kingdom by losing the Gospel of Jesus. Whatever the tempting case may be, take heed, beloved of God; for there is truly something enticing to our sinful flesh when it comes to redefining the parameters and nature of the Kingdom of Heaven to meet our sinful standards. May we never redefine the doctrines of God’s word, rather let us pray that when we do find ourselves spurning the humble nature of Christ’s kingdom that we repent to hear once again how Jesus defines His kingdom of Heaven.

Yes, the Kingdom of Heaven is not defined by us, but by God. It is a heavenly concept revealed to us by God, and it is done so, as the prophets promised, “I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.” And so, using the parable of our Savior to reveal once again the hidden beauty of the Kingdom of God, let us turn to God’s Word to see the humble yet triumphant history of this unique kingdom to which we belong.

"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32 "which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."

This kingdom’s unique history began humbly. So humbly, in fact, that it is compared to a seemingly insignificant seed: a mustard seed. Yet, who established this kingdom? Our Lord, Jesus Christ did. He had humble beginnings, too.  And so, as a tiny seed about one to two millimeters in diameter is cast into the field, so was Jesus sent into this world to create the greatest kingdom through such humble means. This is a fine illustration for Jesus and the beginning of His kingdom. How small and insignificant the Baby of Bethlehem looked to the eyes of the world, who’s used to seeing outward greatness in kingdoms of grandeur. Continuing on, the work of Christ illustrates humility further through His death, which to the world looked exactly like complete failure. But this is the way of God, using what is seemingly foolish and weak to accomplish the greatest of results. And so, growing up in a distant and despised province of the Roman empire, till the His thirtieth year on this earth, Jesus did not leave His family home. He then taught for two or three years in neighboring towns and villages, and occasionally at Jerusalem, nothing special. He made a few converts, mostly among the poor and unlearned. And finally, falling into the hands of His enemies, with no attempt at resistance on His part or that of His followers, He died a criminal’s death upon the cross.

And so here is the difference between God’s kingdoms and others—their beginning and end. All the kingdoms of this world start like the tower of Babel’s ascent, threatening to reach as far as Heaven, and then end in a deserted misshapen heap of slime and brick. Yet God’s work, His Kingdom of the Church, is the opposite of this. It has a slight and unobserved beginning, like a tiny seed, but then has gradual increase and a glorious consummation.

And so, as the seed went in the ground to produce a mighty tree, so it is with Christ’s kingdom. This humble king Jesus was born, lived, died, and then rose triumphantly from the dead all to establish the largest of trees: the Kingdom of God. Christianity alone grows in spite of its being almost 2,000 years old, and will continue to grow, until it has become that tree whose roots embrace the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ as its cornerstone, whose crown reaches to Heaven, the end of all the saints; whose leaves and fruit are for the healing of the nations, and in whose shady branches all manner of birds dwell and offer psalms and praises night and day to the Great God of Heaven and earth.

This is true of your kingdom to which you belong. Remember, the Kingdom of Heaven is God’s Holy Christian Church, the gathering of all believers. It is Jesus ruling in your heart by faith. This kingdom may have fallen into your heart like slight mustard seed, whether it was through the simple washing and preaching done upon you as you cooed and cried at the baptismal font years ago, or if it was a rediscovery of the Kingdom through a dusty old bible, church pamphlet on the nightstand, or simple conversation. It may have seemed to promise little at first, but it has by God’s grace effected mighty and marvelous results.


And so, this is your kingdom: a subtle seed that has grown into a mighty tree of refuge for your soul. Jesus Christ, the humble Savior sent to die to take away your sins, has risen and ascended. He has redeemed you and placed in His Kingdom, a Kingdom that provides protection in Him and grows out until the end.

Yet, how can this be? We see this mustard tree, that is the Kingdom of God, and its impact throughout the world, even in our own circles given the number of churches throughout our own nation, and the many fellow kingdom members in Africa, India, and elsewhere. We see the tree of Christ grown. But how have so many come into this kingdom? How is it that so many believe? We don’t want to take this fact for granted, so how does God’s Kingdom come?

"The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened." This is the answer once again given through an everyday life comparison. You may have heard Scripture compare evil things to leaven, because sinfulness and false doctrine spread and raise a whole batch of dough, impacting it throughout. Here in the parable though, Jesus’ uses the comparison in a different, more positive light. He compares the Kingdom of Heaven, the Church and it’s gracious Savior, to leaven. The leaven in this parable images the Gospel, the Good News that Jesus has through His life, death, and resurrection pronounced you spotless, is effective, renewing, and beneficent. And so, the Gospel of Jesus works like leaven. Yes, leaven isn’t all that special. In fact, if you’ve ever used yeast or leaven, you don’t use that much, but it makes a major impact on the baking process. So, the Word of Jesus may not seem like much to the outside world, but its permeating effects are monumentous.  And so, like the humble seed of Jesus was sent into the World to produce a tree of great size: the Kingdom of Heaven in which we reside, so was the yeast cast into the dough—the life giving Word of Jesus sent into this lifeless batch of dough—the world—to raise it up with new life. We have seen great examples of this, as the yeast is mixed throughout the dough, so the Word of God is mixed throughout the world. Starting in the center and spreading, so it has since Pentecost. This Word of Jesus has gone out and created faith in the hearts of believers everywhere. It goes by unnoticed, but its impact is tremendous.

So, fellow members of the Kingdom of Heaven, what can you take from your kingdom’s humbly unique yet triumphant history? It may not have started like you would expect, a humble mustard seed, a stable born baby sent to die, but it meant the greatest salvation for you, for now you never have to taste the sulfurs of hell, but rather get to be healed by the cooling shade of the mustard tree, the savior’s dying love and life-giving resurrection. You get to take refuge in this tree that you may offer your praises to the God who cares about you and the rest of His Kingdom. You get to go about in His Kingdom knowing that this kingdom will never be destroyed. And you know that this kingdom reaches up into Heaven, the glorious end and consummation waiting for you. May this feature of the mustard tree stimulate your faith by showing you the impact of Christ’s work done for you and all people, may it  encourage your work knowing that this tree of Christ is the tree of protection for all people, and may it fill you with constant hope and joy for Christ’s work tells us of our eternal happiness and assurance that we are loved by Him from now on even forevermore.

And what of your kingdom’s current procedure today? Remember how it got to you? It was subtle, like yeast in dough, but it has grown and made an impact. This kingdom comes through the Word of God. It may not seem like much, but it has called you to faith and made you a part of this Kingdom. This Word, this leaven of mystery, has said to you that you are a forgiven child of God. It says to you that God cares for you. It says to you that your guilt is taken away. It says all these things to you and more. It works and spreads throughout your being, and it does so further throughout the world, spreading farther than any other kingdom has ever done. May this feature of the three measures of leaven awaken and strengthen your faith, knowing that it is the Gospel that does so; may it give you patience and hope knowing that even though results may not be obvious and immediate God’s Word does impact the batch of dough that is the souls of you and this world, and may it fill you with joy whey you see that work done at last, whether in time or in eternity.