• The Rector

Sermon for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost

Sermon for the 7th Sunday After Pentecost

July 26th, 2020

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

Throughout the Gospels Jesus makes many references to the Kingdom of God.


He is often heard teaching his disciples and those around him, usually through parables, what the Kingdom of God is like.


Last week he compared the Kingdom of God to a person throwing seeds down upon different types of ground, and this week we hear Jesus offer several parables about the Kingdom.


It’s also a word that gets hurled around a lot in church – in prayer, in sermons, in scripture – but maybe not one we spend enough time thinking about.


When we hear the word ‘kingdom’ our minds probably think of power and might; we think of those figures in history like Alexander or Genghis Khan who ruled by the strength of their arm. Kings in our minds and in story and legend are leaders able to defend, fight, and lead.


And no doubt when the word kingdom was thrown around in Jesus’ time it was exactly this kind of kingdom that was being imagined.


When people in Jesus’ time thought of Kingdoms they might have thought of the Kingdoms of old written in the Old Testament, or of King Herod, or of the Roman Empire that ruled over them.


When Jesus arrived on the scene and proclaimed himself to be the Messiah – the saviour – the people of Israel were full of hope and ready for a new king.

Israel was occupied and ruled by the Romans and the Jews were waiting for the coming of the Messiah spoken about in their scriptures, the one who would bring a new era of peace, one who could deliver them from under the Romans.


So much of the hype about Jesus and his ministry came about because of this hope in him being the Messiah, the one who would deliver Israel.

We saw in Holy Week that in the span of one week people in Jerusalem go from cheering Jesus’ entry into the city on Palm Sunday to shouting for his death on Good Friday – he seemed not to be the Messiah Israel had been hoping for.


And this is because the kind of kingdom that Jesus came to proclaim and the one that he is shown to be the King over, is not like the kingdoms that we are used to; the king of God’s kingdom is not like Alexander or Genghis Khan.


Jesus proclaims that the greatest person in God’s kingdom is not the strongest but the weakest.


Jesus proclaims that we are not to return violence to our enemies but to love those that hate and hurt us.


You and I live under God’s reign when we forgive, love, and pray for our enemies. This is an upside-down kingdom.


Think of all those failed kings in the old testament, think of all the despotic and tyrannical rulers of recent times in our world, think of those rulers who fail to protect and govern their people, or worse.


God’s kingdom must be different from these kingdoms, the old ways have not worked, and God must give the world a new way. Thus God’s kingdom doesn’t begin with the king conquering his enemies, but rather dying for them in an act of sacrificial love.


This is the way of this new kingdom, this new way of being governed.


And Jesus’ crucifixion is his enthronement as the king.


He is given a robe and a crown, and is even lifted high upon his throne – a cross. A symbol that for all time, even today with it above our altar, reminds us that the love which governs God’s kingdom is a love that will cause the king to die even for those who killed him.


And this kingdom, while it began with Jesus, will not come in its fulness until he returns at the last day. We are not there yet, but the call on our lives as his followers, as subjects, of his kingdom is to go out and proclaim its good news to others. That there is another way. A way of love and sacrifice rather than power and domination. We are To live today as if we are in that kingdom now.


So in today’s Gospel Jesus is trying to show people what this coming kingdom is like.


Jesus gives five examples – the kingdom is like a small mustard seed that grows into a great shrub; it’s like yeast that produces large quantities of bread; like treasure hidden in the field which brings such joy that someone sells everything to buy the field; like fine pearls; and like a net cast into the sea which brings back full nets of every kind of fish.


We could spend forever dissecting each of these parables and talking about them, but there is a common thread which runs through them, I think, and that is the thread of abundance.


In each case something small yields something great – the tiniest seed becomes the biggest bush, it’s like things that make people sacrifice all their worldly goods just to possess even a small part of it, and like a net that brings back more than it we were expecting.


We can live out the principles of God’s kingdom in small mustard-seed-ways now – seeking forgiveness or forgiving, loving your neighbour, being faithful at church – the message is that the fruit of those mustard-seed-ways is beyond our wildest imagining. When we plant those seeds we have no idea what fruit it may yield in another or in us.


When we reach out in faith to another person, make that apology or that phone call to a lonely friend, when we spend time in prayer or reading scripture, when we help the poor or do good to those that hate us, we plant those seeds unable to foresee the great fruit they may yield in another or in us. This is to live as subjects of that king and members of his kingdom.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”


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