The kingdom of God can not be grasped, but it is revealed through the parables of Jesus.
God’s kingdom is like a mustard seed sewn in a field. From a tiny seed, there grows a huge plant that birds can rest on. From humble beginnings, God’s kingdom takes root and grows. From a few followers, faith in Christ has spread throughout the world, sprouting churches and faith communities too numerous to mention. Contained within the tiny mustard seed is the blueprint for a huge plant. In the same way, contained within our faith in Christ is our call to mission, to spread the good news of God’s love to people everywhere.
Often we get so caught up in our vision of the big picture, that we fail to recognize the small, significant steps it takes to get there. Rather than grow in faith as individual believers, we focus on how to achieve church growth, how to get others to follow us rather than Christ. The message of this parable is that God has already provided the seed for growth. It’s now up to us to cultivate the soil, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
The kingdom of heaven is also like a treasure hidden in a field, which someone finds and hides; then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field. In ancient Palestine, invasions were common. When people were attacked, they would bury their valuables. They hoped to later come back and reclaim them. This was similar to what happened in the South during the Civil War, when Southern plantation owners buried their valuables to prevent Yankee invaders from taking them.
Some family treasures were never reclaimed. The owners were either killed or exiled. Much later, a farmer could be out plowing the field and uncover this great treasure.
The kingdom of heaven is like this. Sometimes, you’re just going along minding your own business and suddenly you’re hit with a great blessing. Sometimes God works this way. We’ve done nothing to deserve the blessings we receive, but God sends them anyway. The key for us is to see their value, to respond like the farmer in the field, with great joy, giving up what we have to get what’s most valuable.
The kingdom of heaven is like a hidden treasure buried in a field. When you discover it, you want to give all you have to get it.
The kingdom of heaven is also like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
The kingdom of God is like a precious antique you’ve been looking for all your life and when you find it, you’re willing to give up anything to have it. This is what we are all searching for as Christians. We search for the peace, the love, the joy that God brings to life in Christ. At times we catch glimpses. We hear about God’s healing in the life of someone who has battled illness or disease. We see evidence of the unity God’s Spirit brings to people very different from each other working together. We look for the Spirit of Christ active in the world and when we find it, we need to get involved ourselves.
Finally, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea that catches fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad.
This is a great image for evangelism. It is not our job to sort through the fish, but to cast the net. Our job is to cast the net, to invite others to follow Christ. If we become selective in our process, we cut holes in the net. Certainly, we are called to lead holy lives and to call on others to do the same. If, however, we begin to judge who’s in and who’s out of the net, we’re on the wrong track. Leave the sorting to God, in God’s own time, when the net is safely on the shore.
Jesus teaches us that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. We find it in daily activities like fishing and baking. It comes through human participation, like casting nets and sowing seeds. It is hidden. Not everyone finds it. But if we search and if our eyes are open to God’s surprises each day, we will find the hidden treasure.