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THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS GUARANTEED TO GROW BY THE POWER OF GOD UNTIL IT ENCOMPASSES PEOPLE OF EVERY NATION.

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is a trilogy of parables which teach us
is a trilogy of parables which teach us
Last week we looked at the first third of this parable concerning God’s people being a light. Let me distill last week’s teaching into two simple statements.

THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS GUARANTEED TO GROW BY THE POWER OF GOD UNTIL IT ENCOMPASSES PEOPLE OF EVERY NATION.

Last week we looked at the first third of this parable concerning God’s people being a light. Let me distill last week’s teaching into two simple statements.

The Good News that Jesus brought us is not to be kept to ourselves, but to be shared with others.

If you hide it, you will lose it. (4:24-25)

Today’s sermon will focus on the last two thirds of this trilogy.
Sometimes the work of the Lord can become frustrating and disappointing. We work hard but see little fruit. We shine the light of the gospel and sow the seed of the Word, but not much happens. It seems almost futile, and we wonder, Why even continue?
William Carey (1761– 1834), the father of the modern missionary movement, labored in India seven years before seeing his first convert. He shared the gospel for more than 40 years, but the fruit of his labor was minimal. Still he could say,
“The future is as bright as the promise of God” and “Expect great things [from God], attempt great things [for God].”
Likewise, Adoniram Judson (1788– 1850) labored in Burma for seven years before seeing his first convert. He would die disappointed that his labors for the gospel yielded so little fruit. Yet like Carey, he was faithful to the end and could voice these words:
Adoniram Judson (1788– 1850) labored in Burma for seven years before seeing his first convert. He would die disappointed that his labors for the gospel yielded so little fruit. Yet like Carey, he was faithful to the end and could voice these words:
“In spite of sorrow, loss, and pain, our course be onward still; we sow on Burma’s barren plain, we reap on Zion’s hill.”
Mark uses the parables in (4:21-34) to reinforce the main parable of the soils (4:1-20).
Akin, Daniel L.. Exalting Jesus in Mark (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) (p. 92). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Akin, Daniel L.. Exalting Jesus in Mark (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) (p. 92). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Akin, Daniel L.. Exalting Jesus in Mark (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) (pp. 91-92). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

THE PARABOLIC POINT OF KINGDOM SOWING

The Word of God has within it the power of its own success and triumph.

The sower is not the focus but the seed. Man is passive in his power to make the seed sprout and grow.
James 1:21 ESV
Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

THREE PRINCIPLES OF GROWING

1. He is drawing parallels between the way things are in nature & how they are in the kingdom of God!
C. This is Mark’s only unique parable.
D. This is an important parable for those who sow the Word of God.
E. Note: Sowing (26) Growing (27,28) & Harvesting (29).

SEED GROWS SECRETIVE

Mark 4:27 ESV
He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.
The growth of gospel seed is secretive. The phrase “he knows not how” reinforces that growth is not by human intervention.
WE ARE SOWERS NOT SAVIORS.
The sower is not the focus but the seed. Man is passive in his power to make the seed sprout and grow.
James 1:21 ESV
Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
The seed of the gospel prospers and grows of itself. Once it is sown, a process is set in motion that cannot and will not be stopped, even though its growth is a total mystery to us.
Akin, Daniel L.. Exalting Jesus in Mark (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) (p. 94). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

SEED GROWS SLOW

“he sleeps and rises night and day”
This does not mean that the sower abandons his work, nor that he is uninterested in what takes place. It means that the seed must be allowed its appointed course, as the process of growth and ripening advances toward a harvest that is approaching.
The Sower needs patience. You can’t plant today and pick tomorrow! The seed needs to germinate and grow.
James 5:7–8 ESV
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
James 5:7-8
When you sow give it time to grow. Patience does not mean that we should be passive. We cannot cause the seed to grow but we can cultivate the ground.
Psalm 126:5 ESV
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!

SEED GROWTH IS SURE

The English phrase “by itself” in Greek “automate” where we get our English word “automatically”.
It is only used one other time in all of Scripture.
Slide#11 It has Mysterious Growth – Sharing the gospel is never a matter of formulas & techniques. There is always another dimension…the mysterious working of God!
Acts 12:10 ESV
When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him.
It literally reads, “Automatically the earth bears fruit.” Once the process has begun, it is destined to be completed. The process that brings about the fullness of the kingdom of God is not spectacular, but it is sure. Even now it is present and growing, whether or not you see it.
God did not design His kingdom to come like a tidal wave or a bolt of lightning, to come quickly and disappear quickly. No, God planted it in the coming of a Galilean peasant, a homeless man from Nazareth, who gathered about Him a bunch of nobodies. The ways of God are mysterious indeed, but He will be successful.
Akin, Daniel L.. Exalting Jesus in Mark (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) (p. 94). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Akin, Daniel L.. Exalting Jesus in Mark (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) (p. 94). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Akin, Daniel L.. Exalting Jesus in Mark (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) (p. 94). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
2. Slide#12 It has Gradual Growth – The Sower needs patience. You can’t plant today & pick tomorrow! The seed needs to germinate & grow.
When the word of God is faithfully sown it will grow…there will be a harvest!
Acts 12:10 ESV
When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him.
Acts 12:10
(1) Never expect a full crop of Christian graces immediately from them.
(a) But, you can water it with your tears & prayers!
i) Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy.
When the word of God is faithfully sown it will grow…there will be a harvest!
c) It germinates, sprouts, grows & he did not know how nor could he explain it.
Romans 1:16 ESV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
“The world has more winnable people than ever before...but it is possible to come out of a ripe field empty-handed.” Donald McGavran
Slide#13 It has Certain Growth – The seed’s growth is inherent in the seed.
a) Note by itself in (vs.28). Try to guess the Greek meaning αὐτόµατος.
b) When the word of God is faithfully sown it will grow…there will be a harvest!
(1) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.
c) “The world has more winnable people than ever before...but it is possible to come out of a ripe field empty-handed.”

A PARABLE ON SANCTIFICATION

THE PARABOLIC POINT OF KINGDOM GROWING.

A SMALL SEED CAN PRODUCE SIGNIFICANT RESULTS.

The mustard seed was renowned for its size in Palestine because it was the smallest of all the seeds sown. In Jesus uses the mustard-seed image to represent a minimal quantity of faith. Here Jesus wants to draw an analogy between the mustard bush’s microscopic beginning and its large mature state. At the beginning a small seed is sown. But soon the small seed explodes in growth. It produces something completely out of proportion to itself.
Likewise, from small and meager beginnings, God’s kingdom will expand and grow for all to see. What began as the smallest becomes the greatest! Unlike His first coming, when Christ returns, all the world will see as He surpasses all the earth’s kingdoms in power, glory, and majesty. What an encouraging word for those who think they labor in vain, who endure rejection and persecution, and who may even experience martyrdom!
Some have suggested that “the birds of the air” represent Satan, connecting these birds back to the ones in 4: 4. Others believe this reference indicates shelter for kingdom citizens. Still others suggest the birds represent the nations coming into the kingdom. Finally, some believe the birds are simply part of the story and have no special significance. I like number three: the nations! Passages such as
Psalm 104:12 ESV
Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches.
; and 31: 6; and would all support this. That the birds “nest in its shade” settles the issue for me. In effect, Jesus is asserting that all the peoples of the world are going to be there.
Ezekiel 17:23 ESV
On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest.
and 31: 6; and would all support this. That the birds “nest in its shade” settles the issue for me. In effect, Jesus is asserting that all the peoples of the world are going to be there.
Ezekiel 31: 6; and would all support this. That the birds “nest in its shade” settles the issue for me. In effect, Jesus is asserting that all the peoples of the world are going to be there.
Ezekiel 31:6 ESV
All the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs; under its branches all the beasts of the field gave birth to their young, and under its shadow lived all great nations.
Daniel That the birds “nest in its shade” settles the issue for me. In effect, Jesus is asserting that all the peoples of the world are going to be there.
Daniel 4:9–21 ESV
“O Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no mystery is too difficult for you, tell me the visions of my dream that I saw and their interpretation. The visions of my head as I lay in bed were these: I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great. The tree grew and became strong, and its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth. Its leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, and the birds of the heavens lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it. “I saw in the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and behold, a watcher, a holy one, came down from heaven. He proclaimed aloud and said thus: ‘Chop down the tree and lop off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts flee from under it and the birds from its branches. But leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, amid the tender grass of the field. Let him be wet with the dew of heaven. Let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth. Let his mind be changed from a man’s, and let a beast’s mind be given to him; and let seven periods of time pass over him. The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.’ This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, saw. And you, O Belteshazzar, tell me the interpretation, because all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation, but you are able, for the spirit of the holy gods is in you.” Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was dismayed for a while, and his thoughts alarmed him. The king answered and said, “Belteshazzar, let not the dream or the interpretation alarm you.” Belteshazzar answered and said, “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies! The tree you saw, which grew and became strong, so that its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth, whose leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which beasts of the field found shade, and in whose branches the birds of the heavens lived—
Daniel 4:20–21 ESV
The tree you saw, which grew and became strong, so that its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth, whose leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which beasts of the field found shade, and in whose branches the birds of the heavens lived—
That the birds “nest in its shade” settles the issue for me. In effect, Jesus is asserting that all the peoples of the world are going to be there.
The birds “nest in its shade” settles the issue for me. In effect, Jesus is asserting that all the peoples of the world are going to be there.

ONE PRINCIPLE OF GROWING

The kingdom starts small, but it will grow large.

Yes, there is surprising growth to God’s kingdom, and all the nations will enter and enjoy it! This is a parable of growth and grace, of joy and celebration.
And the biggest and best of this growth is yet to come! If you doubt that, listen to
Revelation 7:9–10 ESV
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Akin, Daniel L.. Exalting Jesus in Mark (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) (p. 96). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Akin, Daniel L.. Exalting Jesus in Mark (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) (pp. 94-95). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
A. Big Idea: This last parable underlines what he just said about a certain & successful harvest!
1. From the tiny mustard seed a large plant grows!
2. From insignificant beginnings a great movement develops!
3. Remember the manger in Bethlehem a helpless infant now known all over the globe
a) Slide#15 For who has despised the day of small things?
B. (31) Actually, the mustard seed is not the smallest seed known to botanist.
1. Evidently it was the smallest in common use among the Jews. It was proverbial.
C. Some see this as the growth of the church during this age.
1. Our Lord started with 12; grew to 70; at Pentecost 3000; then 5000; it was carried to other nations(Africa, Asia, Europe)...it will go to ALL nations! And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
2. Don’t be put off by the outward appearance of things or apparent lack of response.
a) There is no doubt in Jesus’ mind that when the seed is sown a process begins that will bear fruit in God’s time.
D. Slide#16 Birds?
1. May indicate just the surprising size of the result.
2. Represent the Gentiles incorporated into God’s kingdom program. a)
Slide#17 On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it; and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. Under it will dwell birds of every sort; in the shadow of its branches they (Gentiles) will dwell.
3. Perhaps they represent evil forces(vs.4).
a) Jesus just used it that way(vs.4), same day, same teaching time!
b) Small beginnings, large growth, & not without it attacks!
(1) Already in the 12, a Judas bird flew. In the Jerusalem church, Ananias & Sapphira roosted. Simon Magus was perched in the church in Samaria.
c) The bigger the net, the greater the possibility of catching both good & bad fish!
VI. Slide#18 USE OF PARABLES (33,34) [mote: cutest lil girl in Jesus lap in pic] A. He explains the principle that He operated by.
1. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
2. Jesus was fully aware of the capacity of His listeners.
3. He reserved detailed explanations for the disciples.
4. Parables gave the crowd time to think & prevented them coming to premature & probably mistaken conclusions about who He was & what He had come to do.
B. Mark’s selection of Parables is followed by a series of Miracles.
C. What Jesus said (His parables/words) was authenticated by what he did (miracles/works).
D. Slide#19 3 Take aways:
1. Share what you’ve learned
2. Don’t be discouraged, growth is mysterious/gradual/but certain
3. God uses Humble beginnings then grows them into something great
E. Slide#20blank
F. Starting Spiritual Conversations:
1. Don’t dump the gospel on someone, because no one likes to get dumped on.
2. They should not feel like someone’s project, but a person that is loved.
a) Develop authentic relationships.
b) Does my life reflect only religious activity or does it bear the mark of profound love?
3. Evangelism is a way of life not a program. 5
4. Evangelism training is simply calling believers to live as true Christians. When we live as we are called to be, evangelism can’t help but happen.
5. Our message is not that we have it all together, but that we know One who does! Our message is not behave, then believe, then you can belong!
6. Penetrate their mask. We all wear one.
7. See anyone’s sin(even most vile) as them simply trying to fill their God-shaped vacuum. 6
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