Kingdom Snapshots (Matthew 13:24-52)

Jesus gives us seven pictures of the Kingdom of God in this passage. The Kingdom can best be explained through pictures like these. We won’t look at the first picture, a well-known one (The Parable of the Sower and the Seed). We’re going to look at some of the others, which are a little more obscure. These six have something in common. Jesus begins each one by saying, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…”

First Picture: Weeds

24Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25But that night as everyone slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat. 26When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. 27The farmer’s servants came and told him, ‘sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds!’
28″‘An enemy has done it!’ the farmer exclaimed.”‘Shall we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.
29″He replied, ‘No, you’ll hurt the wheat if you do. 30Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds and burn them and to put the wheat in the barn.'”

The, the explanation in verse 36:

36Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples said, “Please explain the story of the weeds in the field.”
37″All right,” he said. “I, the Son of Man, am the farmer who plants the good seed. 38The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. 39The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels.
40″Just as the weeds are separated out and burned, so it will be at the end of the world. 41I, the Son of Man, will send my angels, and they will remove from my Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil, 42and they will throw them into the furnace and burn them. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the godly will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!

This story isn’t about the church. Some have taught that this story is about unbelievers who will always be in the church, and that you can’t straighten this out until the end times. They’re wrong. The field is the world (verse 38). It’s about us living in the world, side by side with those who don’t follow Jesus.

This is a picture of the Kingdom. Until later, it’s a Kingdom that exists very much within an imperfect world. We sometimes assume our goal is to bring God’s Kingdom into this world. That’s okay, until we’re surprised that his Kingdom isn’t fully here. Laws are passed that we don’t agree with. Stuff happens that the church can’t influence. Jesus says that this shouldn’t surprise us.

Second Picture: Mustard Seed

31He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”

God’s Kingdom has incredibly small beginnings. It’s easy to overlook – but don’t misunderstand its impact. The Kingdom can’t be judged by its seeming smallness. It will prevail.

Third Picture: Yeast

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

This is one of my favorite pictures. It speaks of our smallness, our insignificance – and yet our influence within this world. Our influence is out of proportion to its size. We permeate, infiltrate, and influence society.

Fourth and Fifth Pictures: Hidden Treasure and Pearl

44″The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45″Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

The hidden treasure story speaks of how the Kingdom doesn’t seem to make sense at first. It involves a surrender of everything. Why? It doesn’t seem to make sense. Until…

This man buys a field. He pays way too much – far more than it’s looks like it’s worth. He sells all that he has to get it. Nobody can figure out why. It’s only when he takes possession that it begins to make sense. He knew, all along, about a treasure buried there that made it all worthwhile.

Our commitment to the Kingdom can’t possibly make sense – until you see its real value in the end. To use another picture, it’s like a pearl that’s so valuable that the pearl expert is willing to part with everything else to purchase it. The true value of the Kingdom makes everything we give up for it more than worthwhile.

Sixth Picture: Net

47″Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Finally, a story about how the Kingdom will look in the end. This isn’t a comfortable picture. It’s one of judgment, of everything sorted out in the end. It gives urgency to our work for the Kingdom today.

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada