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The Shock, Size, and Secret of the Kingdom: Mark 4:26-34

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Order of Service

Prayer
Hymn 203
Hymn 616
Sermon
Hymn 4
Prayer
Announcements

Intro

“The early bird gets the worm.” Images and illustrations like this can be used to communicate deeper truths. In the case of the early bird, we learn that the proactive person will have success. Jesus was a master of illustration and story-telling to communicate deeper truths, as we have already seen in earlier parables. Thus far in Jesus’ parables, we have have learned that the Kingdom has many responses, it is to be displayed, and is to be heard with faith. The Kingdom of God in this context is the realm in which God’s benevolent reign is recognized and accepted in the person and work of Jesus Christ. In our text, Jesus uses two more images to teach us about His Kingdom. Like the previous parables, we must be diligent to consider and hear what Jesus is saying. Thus, the big idea for this messages is consider the Kingdom of God. Three such considerations are communicated in the text.

Body

1. Consider the Kingdom of God that comes unexpectedly: 26-29

Explain

In verses 26-29, we have a simile. The Kingdom of God is compared to a man who scatters seed on the ground. After scattering the seed, each night the man sleeps and each day he rises. The seed sprouts and grows. The man doesn’t know how. Verse 28 provides an explanation for the seeds’ growth. Look there, “The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then full grain in the ear.” The word translated “by itself” could be rendered “automatically.” It is not the man’s power or genius that causes the growth. It is a work of the God from whom all blessings flow. Once the grain is ripe the man sends the sickle because the harvest has come.

Illustrate

Those of you who farm or have a garden know that producing crop isn’t as simple as scattering seed, sleeping, and waking. It takes work like tilling, watering, and spraying. Similar actions were required in Jesus’s day. Thus, there is a purposeful disconnect between the parable and ordinary agriculture. Jesus by way of contrast tells us something unique about God’s Kingdom. It comes not through human genius, labor, or power. It comes by God bringing about its growth. It comes by God’s power. The great harvest of the Kingdom will come because it is God who will bring it to that point.

Apply

To apply the idea of the Kingdom growing unexpectedly, I charge you to sow and rest confidently in God’s power. As a church, we are too sow the Gospel of the Kingdom of God on the soil of our community. We do this labor by speaking publically about the person and work of Jesus Christ. We should be mindful everyday and in everything we do that gospel sowing opportunities could arise. Moreover, we should try to put ourselves in such situations through serving and getting to know and speaking with our family members, coworkers, and neighbors. Such opportunities might arise on the lake, in the field, at your work, or around a dinner table. In these situations, scatter seed. Tell people about Jesus. It is that simple. We sow seed and God brings the growth. True Kingdom growth doesn’t come from our creativity, power, or programs it comes from God. Therefore, we sow and we rest confidently in God’s power to grow His Kingdom. He will bring the growth and the harvest will come. In the mean time, we sow and rest.

Transition

1. Consider the Kingdom of God that comes unexpectedly.

2. Consider the Kingdom of God that grows exponentially: 30-32

Explain

Jesus next parable from verse 30-32 starts with two rhetorical questions. Take a look at verse 30: “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?” Jesus answers His own questions. The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed sown on the ground. The mustard seed is the smallest seed on the earth. However, the size of the seed doesn’t determine the size of the plant. In fact, it grows to become the largest garden plant. It grows such large branches, “so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” The imagery of the branches and the birds nesting echos imagery from both Daniel and Ezekiel (Dan 4:9-21; Ezek 17:23; 31:6). In both prophets, the birds amid the branches signify peoples and nations. It seems Jesus is giving a clue to the nature of His Kingdom. It starts with His small marry band of believing Jewish disciples and expands to become a vast Kingdom made up of all the peoples of the world.

Illustrate

When I was child, my parents would get me these really small dinosaur toys. Well they started out small. My parents would have me put one in a bowl of water. We would leave it overnight. When I rushed in to get it, to my wonder and amazement the dinosaur toy that could be inclosed in my child-sized hand now couldn’t be contained by both of them. The Kingdom of God like this starts small and grows exponentially. In its case, it grows to a size that we or the early disciples couldn’t have ever imagined. Indeed, it now includes millions of people and thousands of people groups, and it is still growing.

Apply

I charged you in the last point to sow and rest confidently in God’s power. Now I charge you to sow and rest patiently in God’s faithfulness. God has promised that His Kingdom will grow. He has promised that it will include the nations, which includes the likes of you and me. It includes people from tribes of central America to the cities of China. God has included us in bringing about this growth through the proclamation of the gospel. We proclaim the gospel knowing that it will result in the growth of God’s Kingdom and the salvation of sinners. We rest in God’s faithfulness and not our power or strength. Don’t be afraid to share this gospel. God will use you and your feeble words to grow His Kingdom. You can make disciples because it is not by your power or faithfulness that disciples are made. It is Christ who reigns over all things and it is He who is with you to the end of the age. Sow and rest in God’s power and faithfulness.

Transition

Consider the Kingdom of God that 1) comes unexpectedly and 2) grows exponentially.

3. Consider the Kingdom of God that needs explanation: 33-34

Explain

In the final two verses of our text, Mark summarizes Jesus’s use of parables and His care to explain them to His disciples. Read verse 33: “With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it.” Again the theme of hearing is used by Mark, as in the passages we have looked at the past few weeks. Jesus spoke many parables and not only the ones Mark records here. He only spoke in parables to those who didn’t come to Him for their explanation. Privately He unfolded the mysteries hidden within the parables to His disciples. Those able to hear are those who come to the one speaking. So long as one doesn’t come to Jesus, they won’t understand the Kingdom.

Illustrate

We might liken the Kingdom of God and the parables that Jesus told to a lock. There is only one key to this lock. That key is Jesus Himself. If we want to understand and be a part of the Kingdom of God, then we must come to Jesus.

Apply

I have charged you to sow and rest confidently in God’s power and patiently in God’s faithfulness. Lastly, in light of the final portion of our text, I charge you sow and rest trustingly in God’s Son. Like the disciples you must come to Jesus if you are to understand and be members of God’s Kingdom. You sow the Kingdom by proclaiming Christ. You rest in the Kingdom by trusting in Christ. Your eternity and salvation is wed to your coming to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith and resting in His person and work for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. If you are confused about something in Scripture or life, then come to Jesus in prayer. If you are discouraged, then come to Jesus. If you are back-sliding in sin, then come to Jesus. If you are afraid to share the gospel, then come to Jesus. Christian, it is by knowing, beholding, and trusting Jesus that you find strength, hope, and joy. It is by coming to Jesus that you are made more like Him and are used by Him to expand His Kingdom to include peoples from every nation and tribe. So, rest in Him and sow Him.

Transition

Consider the Kingdom of God that 1) comes unexpectedly, 2) grows exponentially, and 3) needs explanation.

Conclusion

“The early bird gets the worm” is a modern proverb or parable that teaches us the value of being proactive. Jesus’ two seed parables teach us of something far more mysterious and important. They teach us the Kingdom of God. They show us that it comes unexpectedly and by a power beyond our comprehension, namely God’s power. They show us that it grows exponentially. It started small with Jesus and His merry band, but has and will increase greatly. Eventually it will overtake and replace all other kingdoms. Yes, such parables powerfully illustrate deeper truths. However, they also require explanation. We must not read or hear them too quickly. We must listen and read them with patience and prayer.
Believer, I pray that you have been encouraged by the fact that Jesus’ Kingdom is not dependent upon your genius or strength. You sow seeds and God will bring the growth.
Unbeliever, do you want to be a part of this mysterious and growing Kingdom? Do you want to know God? Do you want eternal life through the forgiveness of sins? If so, respond to Jesus in the way He desires. Respond by hearing Him with faith. Believe that He is the Son whom God sent to establish His Kingdom through the redemption of sinners like you. Believe in His miraculous birth, perfect life, substitutionary death, victorious resurrection, glorious ascension, and future return. You are a lost and sinful sheep, Jesus is the gate to the pastures of eternal life. You are weary and need a shepherd, Jesus is the good shepherd who saves and protects sheep like you. You are dead and dying, Jesus is the way to eternal life. You are condemned in Sin, Jesus is the way for forgiveness. Trust in Jesus and join His shocking and ever-growing Kingdom.
Vista Baptist Church, we are a part of the Kingdom spoken of here. We sow seed by preaching the Word. God will produce the crop. We may feel that Jesus’ Kingdom is losing, but rest assured it will overtake and replace all opposition. Hear and proclaim Jesus with faith. Consider His Kingdom. Consider its unexpected coming, exponential growth, and needed explanation.
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