The Parables Series  #3




TEXT:         Matthew 13:31-33


INTRO:       Have you ever thought about the importance of small things and their impact in great ways in our lives?


1.   The red blood cell

2.   Intestinal bacteria f. coli aiding in digestion

3.   Termites

4.   Grain of sand in an oyster shell becoming a pearl

5.   The spark in your engine for power in your car


ILLUS:   Recently a movie came out called the “Bee Movie.”  It was a cute film that showed the power and importance of tiny bees.  In the movie the “bees” sued humanity for stealing their honey and in getting back all their honey from humans they got lazy and failed to pollinate flowers and make more honey because they had too much.  The result was nearly disastrous … all life on earth was in danger of dying because all plant life nearly stopped from lack of pollination.  Near the end the bees rallied and found a few left over flowers and used this pollen to re-pollinate the world’s plants again and save the earth.  While a little farfetched, the basic concept is true, without the tiny bee all life on earth would probably cease!  Tiny bees pollinate many of the plants that create the oxygen, food, and other important ingredients necessary for life as we know it as animals. 


Many of things in this life that have a great impact begin by being tiny!


PROP. SENT:    These parables teach us that it is God's will for His work to grow both qualitatively and quantitatively ... and growth does occur in a healthy environment.


I.   SMALL SEEDS    Matt. 13:31-32a


A.   Small in Size    Matt. 13:32a

1.   The mustard seed is hardly noticeable, one of the smallest plant seeds!

a.   Hard to believe it could be significant by just its size as a seed!

b.   Most would ignore it!

c.   Some will reject it because of its smallness; a seed just doesn't seem that attractive!

2.   Too many want just the big tree stage!

a.   Can't wait for its development from the seed.  As proof of this look how many people avoid buying seeds to plant in their gardens and instead buy full size plants from nurseries so they don’t have to mess with small seedlings!

b.   Don't want to help cultivate the seedling into a strong plant.

c.   Fail to recognize that God often works from the small to the large, God works this way often.


ILLUS:    Now that man has walked on the moon, we easily forget how it all began.  After World War II, U.S. Army scientists were debriefing men like Wernher von Braun, who built the first long-range ballistic missile.  He said, "Why don't you ask your own rocket pioneer, Dr. Robert Goddard?"  Now, the Goddard Space Center is named for him!  On March 16, 1926, on the farm of his Aunt Effie Ward, Goddard and a couple of friends launched the world's first successful rocket.  It rose 41 feet in the air, flew for two and one-half seconds, and landed 184 feet from the launch pad.  But it was a beginning.  In the words of Scripture, despise not "the day of small things" (Zechariah 4:10). -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).


(1.   Creation

(2.   The church in Acts.

(3.   Revelation about Himself -- Old & New Testaments.

(4.   Our spiritual development.


B.   Miracle of Potential    Matt. 13:32a

1.   Within the small, frail seed is the potential for a great tree!

a.   To later build a house with.

b.   To shelter from the heat and sun.

c.   To nest birds.

d.   To heat a home with, etc.

2.   Time is all that is required and care!

a.   The seed knows its destiny -- everything is there in that little compact capsule!

b.   It doesn't give up because it is small and tiny ... it knows it will develop!

c.   And it multiplies itself over many times.


ILLUS:     While in Canada, I visited one believer who operated a large grain farm.  His spread included some twenty-five hundred acres.  I asked him how he planted the seed. He reached in a bin and pulled out an ear of corn.  Then he proceeded to pop out the kernels one by one as he walked along, demonstrating the planting process. Do you believe that?

   No, sir!  That's not what he said nor is it what he did.  He showed me a distributor that was some thirty feet wide.  "We take that double tandem truck, fill it with certified seed, back it up to the distributor, open the slots, and pour in the seed."  He went on to say, "If you're ever going to be cheap, don't be cheap with the seed."

   One bushel of seed invested yields thirty bushels of grain harvested in a good year.  Thirty to one--not a bad return, if you are ready to believe and willing to invest.  God says, "Believe Me, trust Me, try My plan, prove My ways, and see the kind of harvest I will give."  So Paul guarantees this principle of truth in the Scripture with the promise, "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8).

   All grace, all ways, all sufficiency, all things! There are four promises in one breath. Knowing it is one thing, believing it is quite another. -- Jack Exum -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 463.


II.  SIZABLE TREE!   Matt. 13:32b


A.   Large in Size   Matt. 13:32b

1.   Very noticeable

a.   A thing of beauty -- catches everyone's eye -- can't be missed!

b.   People will be drawn to it.

c.   It could grow in a matter of months to 10-12 feet in height.

2.   Growth can be expected if the seed is grounded properly and nurtured.

a.   It is a natural process.

b.   It just needs the right environment.

c.   Even if growth doesn’t always come instantly or evenly!


ILLUS:    I believe God wants us to be successful ... and yet success is not always obvious.  The Chinese bamboo tree does absolutely nothing--or so it seems--for the first four years. Then suddenly, sometime during the fifth year, it shoots up ninety feet in sixty days.  Would you say that bamboo tree grew in six weeks, or five years?  I think our lives are akin to the Chinese bamboo tree.  Sometimes we put forth effort, put forth effort, and put forth effort ... and nothing seems to happen.  But if you do the right things long enough, you'll receive the rewards of your efforts. -- S. Truett Cathy, Leadership, Vol. 7, no. 3.


B.   Large in Substance   Matt. 13:32b

1.   The Mustard plant produced seeds for many uses:

a.   Oil

b.   Food

2.   It will produce seed as hardy as itself ... the potential is that so much seed is produced that it could cover the world!

3.   It gave food to the birds that perched in its branches.

4.   The strong branches indicate support for those who find refuge in its limbs.

5.   A place of sanction and protection for the birds.

6.   It was healthy and produced great fruit!

7.   The kingdom of God can grow anywhere … it is not so much the location, as it is the substance of what develops.


ILLUS:    While serving as a missionary in Laos, I discovered an illustration of the kingdom of God.  Before the colonialists imposed national boundaries, the kings of Laos and Vietnam reached an agreement on taxation in the border areas.  Those who ate short-grain rice, built their houses on stilts, and decorated them with Indian-style serpents were considered Laotians.  On the other hand, those who ate long-grain rice, built their houses on the ground, and decorated them with Chinese-style dragons were considered Vietnamese.  The exact location of a person's home was not what determined his or her nationality.  Instead, each person belonged to the kingdom whose cultural values he or she exhibited.  So it is with us: we live in the world, but as part of God's kingdom, we are to live according to his kingdom's standards and values.  -- John Hess-Yoder, Portland, Oregon. Leadership, Vol. 7, no. 3.




A.   Unnoticed!   Matt. 13:33a

1.   Hidden in the dough.

2.   At first seems insignificant.


ILLUS:    So many times, you can't see anything happening week to week.  Spiritual growth takes place beneath the surface. -- Stuart Briscoe, Leadership, Vol. 11, no. 2.


3.   Tiny compared to the amount of dough.


B.   Effective!   Matt. 13:33b

1.   Spreads until it filled up the dough!

2.   Became a noticeable thing.

3.   Gave a new texture and quality to the dough.  After a while it would so blend into the dough you could not tell the difference, but the effects of one had an effect on the other.


ILLUS:    Someone pointed out to me not too long ago how people who have been married for a long time get so they look alike.  They start having the same kinds of expressions on their faces.  They start actually having the same kinds of physical characteristics.

   I didn't think that was true.  Then I started to look, and it really is true.  Have you ever considered why that happens?  Well, that's because people have abided with one another, and they begin to be like one another.  It's the same way abiding with Christ.  We become more Christlike.  We begin to take on the characteristics of Christ as we abide in him. -- Steve Brown, "The Prime Principle," Preaching Today, Tape No. 107.


4.   The yeast made great bread -- gave life!

5.   Same is true of the church in the world … or in your town!

a.   In this case Jesus explains the use of yeast as an influence, positively showing how the kingdom of God spreads, at first apparently unnoticed, then influencing the environment around it powerfully.

b.   Yeast was used as an example of powerful influence in the Bible, both negative and positive … Jesus said to "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." (Matt. 16:6) … this had to do with their negative influence.

c.   Its nature was that it “influences” in an almost hidden way at first, then powerfully touches everything around it visibly.  It is small and barely noticeable at first, but powerfully effective as it works, to the point that whatever it touches cannot be left without its influence being noticed; such should be the kingdom of God also.

6.   The church cannot simply exist as a nice corner white steeple building at the edge of town and leave the community untouched … if it does, it really is NOT the church, it is just a nice little white steeple building at the corner of town to look at!

7.   Is there really separation of church and state?  Like separating yeast and dough … hardly!  The church should influence for GOOD the state.


CONCLUSION:   Though the work of God may begin small and seem unnoticed, it will grow until it impacts the community it exists in ... this is God's will for His church, growth both in quality and quantity.