Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

The Greatness of God

The Greatness of God


In the 13th chapter of Matthew Jesus tries to describe for us what the kingdom of God is like. This description of the Kingdom of God is much like the elephant story where 6 blind men tried to describe an elephant. None of the blind men had seen an elephant before and they very much wanted to understand what an elephant was like. So they were taken to an elephant so they could touch an elephant and get an idea of what an elephant looked like. But each man stood at a different place around the elephant and only touched the part of the elephant they were standing by. So one man exclaims as he touched the trunk “An elephant looks like a snake!”. Another man stood by the tusk and said, “The elephant is sharp and deadly like a spear”. Another man touched the leg of the elephant and said this elephant is just a big cow. Touching the tail the blind man said, “Why this isn’t an animal at all, it is just a rope”. One of the blind men grabbed the ear and said, “An elephant must be a big fan!” and the other blind man touched the side of the elephant and said, “An elephant must look like a wall.” Then the men began to argue, A fan!, A Snake, A Cow! It’s just a rope”. They continued their argument and none of them could think about putting all those images together to really understand what an elephant is like. And so it is with the Kingdom of God.
In the 13th chapter of Matthew, Jesus is telling parables that help us learn about the Kingdom of God - and what is important is that you have to read the entire chapter to get a picture of what the kingdom of God is - if you just read a small section then you have an incomplete picture - just like thinking an elephant is just a snake, or a fan or a rope!
Jesus starts off with the parable of the sower. It is a pretty familiar one - the sower sows seed and the seed lands on different soils. Some of the seed grows and some doesn’t; some of the seed grows but something happens and it never grows into a plant and some of the seed flourishes and grows a wonderful crop. Jesus tells us this seed that lands in good soil and grows is like the Kingdom of God. What he is saying is this, those people who are part of the kingdom of God are the seeds that fell on good soil and took root and grew. And that is you! You are the Kingdom of God.
You are here. Sometime in your life the word of God was sown in your heart and it took root and it grew and it is still growing and here you are. You are the Kingdom of God.
God’s kingdom is right here and right now and you are part of it. It is not a place, but the kingdom of God is made up of everyone who is a true believer wherever they may be.
Jesus then tells the next parable where he says that a man sowed his field and and everything was growing well and then all of a sudden all these weeds started growing. It reminds us that we as the Kingdom of God live in the midst of many people who aren’t believers and are not part of the kingdom of God. There are unbelievers all around us. But we need not to allow that to affect us and to stay steadfast in our knowledge we belong to God and not worry about the non believers - and know that God will sort it all out in the end.
So we know the kingdom of God is us - and that all around us are people not part of that kingdom.
Now Jesus says the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed - something that is really small but if we remain firm in our faith, the kingdom will grow and will continue to grow. Because Jesus says in the next parable, if we go out among all those unbelievers in the world and they see our faith, and they see how important God is for us, then they too can come to hear and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus uses the idea of of taking yeast and mixing it in the dough - you don’t need much yeast to make the dough grow. And by simply mixing with others and living our faith, God’s kingdom will grow. Hear the important part of that though - we need to make sure people we are in contact with during the week know the importance of our faith and of our church.


But that is not all, the kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field and the treasure, which is a relationship with God; membership in the kingdom of heaven, is so valuable the man sold everything
he had to keep it and the next parable is the same - the kingdom of God is worth so much it is like a great pearl the man sold everything in order to possess. That calls each of us to think about how much being a member of the Kingdom of Heaven means to us. What would you be willing to give up or to sell or do without to be part of this kingdom?
And finally Jesus tells the last parable which reminds us again - we live in a sinful world full of sinful people who don’t care about God or the things of God or about living in God’s kingdom. And we aren’t to worry about that - that is God’s job. But again, don’t let it sway you from your faith.
So you put all these images together and we get a picture of the kingdom of God - the Kingdom of Heaven - it is made up of us - the children of God - and it is the most valuable part of our lives - so valuable that we should be willing to give up everything if we have to in order to be part of that kingdom. And we know that by being in that kingdom, God will call us his forever.
You have to put all those pieces together to really understand what this kingdom is all about - just like the different pictures of the elephant.
The last petition of the Lord’s prayer reminds us about this kingdom. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. We end the prayer much as we begin it. Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name is reminding us that we come before God understanding his power and his greatness and we end the prayer understanding his power and his greatness.
Just a little ‘trivia’ about this last petition of the Lord’s prayer. It is not in the prayer Jesus taught to his disciples. It is not part of the prayer in Matthew or in Luke. Now if you have an older Bible Version such as King James you will find it. The writers of earlier translations added this last petition because it was commonly used and the newer versions like our New International have omitted it because it was not part of the ancient texts. We don’t know when it was added - probably early in the history of the church. However the words are biblical - the exact phrase is found several places including 1 Chronicles 29:11 and Revelation 1:6. Whoever added this phrase just felt like the prayer needed a proper ending. Instead of ending on the note of asking God for something, we end on a note of reminding ourselves once again who God is - the one who is ruler of the kingdom and the one who holds all the power.
But the point of the last line of the Lord’s Prayer is just like the benediction at the end of our worship. It is a doxology - a way to praise God as we leave his presence in this time of prayer. It was a way of picturing what we are doing here - we come before God and basically say, “God you are great and I honor you.” and then we ask God for stuff - and then we end by saying “God you are the ruler of the kingdom of which I am a part - you are the ruler of the Kingdom of believers.” Before we leave his presence in this moment of prayer we say, “And God, before I leave I know, with all my heart, that you have all the power over my life and I honor you for that.”
This last petition also reminds us about what Lent is all about. It points to the promises we live under in the ultimate reign of God for all eternity. The passage in Revelation 11 -
15 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”
As we end the Lord’s prayer, we are ending with the knowledge that we aren’t just in the presence of God now - but this God who deserves all of our allegiance and all our praise, is the God who will be the ruler of our kingdom - this kingdom of heaven we are part of now and forever! There will be a new heaven and a new earth where the whole universe - everything that exists - will praise God and be part of his kingdom! And there will be no more tears, no more pain, no more violence, no more death. Amen!