READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l Lent is a season when Christians prepare our hearts to remember who Christ is and what He has done. This is a very significant part of Christianity. If God did not come to us in the form of Jesus, we would not be here today. What is the Kingdom of Heaven (Kingdom of God) like? Who is it for?
Jesus used small but powerful stories to portray the Kingdom of Heaven because it is hard for humans to fully understand what it is. In the series of parables, Jesus revealed many things to help the people grasp the concept of the Kingdom of God. The parables share how it appears, how to get there and what are the characteristics of people who are living in the Kingdom of God. Our posture to Christianity will affect whether we are in or out of the Kingdom of Heaven.
How do you recognise the Kingdom of Heaven? It is…
1. Easily recognisable & accessible, but often easily overlooked & missed!
Jesus used common items like mustard seeds, yeast, hidden treasures, and fine pearls that common people in the days of Jesus understood. They are easily recognisable and accessible, yet also easily missed because they are so common. The social upper class would not recognise the value of the mustard seeds or the yeast because they were cheap and widely available, so they were not considered significant/precious. The Kingdom of Heaven is not meant to be exclusive. Jesus made the Kingdom of Heaven so accessible, that the Pharisees had a problem with Him. In Matthew 9:11-13, Jesus told them He came to call the sinners, not the righteous. There would be no need for a Saviour if the people are righteous.
2. Greater than anything you have!
The Kingdom of Heaven will not look appealing from the start; yet like mustard seeds and flour, it has the characteristics of greatness.
- Small but great potential – The mustard seed can grow to be one of the largest plants that allow birds to nest.
- Ordinary but significant – Yeast makes flour rise 5-6 times.
- Slowly but surely – The Jews expected immediate transformation and justice, if the Kingdom of Heaven was there. However, the arrival of Jesus did not bring immediate change, so they rejected Him. God is sovereign and He does not work according to our timeline. Under the right conditions, a mustard seed will grow to become a tree and the dough will rise with yeast. The Kingdom of Heaven may appear slowly, but surely, it will happen.
- Weak (in itself) but Powerful (when in God!) – What is ordinarily weak will be powerful in Christ. In ourselves we are weak using our own strength, but in Christ we can do all things.
3. Recognisable by Intentional Disciples!
- Intentional Discipleship – The religious authorities totally missed it, while the intentional disciples recognised the Kingdom of Heaven. It is important to recognise this because there is a highly organised evil in the spiritual realm at work to prevent people from entering the Kingdom of Heaven. 2 Corinthians 4:4 said Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the glorious light of Christ. The sole purpose of the tempter is to blind non-believers and prevent them from coming into a personal relationship with Jesus. The devil also works hard to prevent believers from recognising their potential and render them ineffective by blinding and binding them through culture, materialism, and temptations.
- Faithful Obedience to God (Total Surrender) – The mustard seed must yield to the forces of the master gardener. The flour must totally surrender to the yeast so that it can transform.
- Sacrificial Service (Selling all to gain it!) – Do all things to protect the treasure because eternity with God is too great a deal to trade for temporal pleasure.
The parables of Jesus test the condition of our hearts to see if we truly understand the value of the gospel. For those who trust in God, we gain it all and God takes over to grow us into greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven. Which kingdom are we growing great into?
(Sermon notes by Honey Vreugdewater)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- Imagine a world without sin/evil/anything detestable – what would that be like? Share some thoughts (funny ones are allowed – e.g. no mosquitos!)
- What do you think the Kingdom of Heaven is like? Spend some time to talk it through.
- What are some of the lifestyle characteristics you’d expect to see from these ‘Kingdom of Heaven” People?
- When do people (or us) start to become Kingdom People? When do you think God expects people to start developing kingdom lifestyle? (before they enter the kingdom or after they enter?) – Why do you say so?
- Share what is the most important desire/need/want (eg: identity or status or pursuit) to you in this life – Compare the Kingdom of Heaven to it and if you were to choose between the 2, which would it be? Why?
- What does it take (or cost you) to choose the Kingdom of Heaven?
- What is God speaking to you about your life & priorities as you share your convictions?