Series: Matthew: We Need a King

Motivations for Hope

August 28, 2022 | Jeff Crotts

Passage: Matthew 13:31-35

Matthew 13:31-35; 44-52 – Kingdom Motivations for Hope


Intro: Been studying Jesus’ Kingdom Parables.


  • Two very striking regarding binary good and evil in our world.
    • Clear distinction btwn/outside and inside kingdom.
    • Majority outside and few inside.


  • Parable of soils mark 3 heart conditions rejecting the kingdom contrasting one that accepts this kingdom.
    • First parable as baseline to open all the others.
      • Explained in detail to disciples for clarification also reflecting spiritual hearing.
      • Some things hard to hear as ultimate judgment but are outcomes for unbelief.


  • Second parable issues same hard and ultimate message.
    • “seed” sown by Christ and “seed” sown by “evil one.”
      • Dramatic contrast “wheat” vs. “weeds” (“tares”).
        • World w/evil.
        • Hard place to be.


  • Begging, “Why did God allow things to be this way?”
    • Jesus answers in two ways.
      • God not morally culpable for sin.
        • Inherently good contradicts this.
        • Good action to save contradicts this.


  • God allowed His plan for his purposes.
    • Not understand this.
    • Called to be patient.
      • Let God avenge Sin and Satan.
      • Let plan reconcile in end.


[KEY] Mysteries of the kingdom of God.


  • Was hidden and now revealed.
    • Our world though confusing, comes clear by faith understand the cause behind our world falling into a digressive state.
    • We are the church militant destined by design to reign as the church triumphant.


  • We understand our role perhaps as important as integral within our culture, to be countercultural.
    • A refuge for people to run inside to find cover.
    • Find sanity.
      • Remember a sermon series on Ecclesiastes titled: From Vanity to Sanity.
      • Matthew: calling people to this mission and stated role.
        • Commissioned by our King!
        • We have a King to follow in this world!


[Challenge] With clarity on the state of things, knowing why and where this is all going, then how can we find the inner compulsion to do anything about it?


  • Having ears to hear, may want to tuck tale.
    • Fear of man can cause the strongest constitution, not to want to say anything at all about what is true.
    • “Is it really true that people are moral beings, responsible for their actions?” “Actions with consequences.” “Made in God’s image who accept or reject God’s truth, determining their eternities.”
      • Not determined by:
        • How raised, abused or disregarded based on race or gender or identity or how self-assess according to CRT?
          • Classified by rebellion against God’s Word.
          • Snatched away by Satanic ideologies.


  • Fewer seduced by false gospels of easy believism.
    • False safety, by intellectual assent to Gospel.
    • Yet with no actual connection to God at all.


  • Someone with depth of knowledge in God’s Word can be equally vulnerable to self-deception.
    • Harboring secret sin or moral or intellectual compromise.
      • A divided heart.
      • One foot in the world and one with God.
        • Unwilling to fully let yourself fall within God’s care.
        • Surrendering to Christ’s Lordship.
      • False gospels make people believe they are safe, but trials scorch detached roots and choke entangled faith.


  • Truly only one path survives the trial fire of this world.
    • Path of full submission to Christ.
    • He is Master and we as slave.


[Question] “How are we supposed live and also promote this path?”

  • One thing hinders this pursuit. Fear.
    • “The fear of man is a snare” says the Proverbs.


ESV  Proverbs 29:25 aThe fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe. (Pro 29:25 ESV)

  • “What are we to do to combat this fear?”
    • Single antidote to fear is, “hope.”
    • Jesus, having drawn clear picture, does not leave us hopeless.


  • No, here are 2 parables to offer hope.
    • Steal for the soul.
    • His Kingdom will Grow!



  • Parable of the soils unpacks the cause and cure for spiritual blindness. Sin and Grace.


  • Parable of wheat and weeds unpacks the secret of the problem of evil. No Blame, Patient Trust.


  • 2 Parables Mustard seed and Hidden leaven unpack the secret of hope for courage to carry our King’s mission.


Prop: Motivations for Hope from Kingdom Parables


  1. Mustard seed (vv. 31-32)


Combining parables 3 and 4 makes a single point.  


  • The point of Jesus’ parable.
    • Small measures of faith produce unimaginable results.
    • Small beginnings build mature ends.


  • Parables of the Kingdom (Mt. 13) make three points:
    • First 2 are the Nature of the Kingdom.
    • Second 2 are the Power of the Kingdom.
    • Final 3 are the Appropriation of the Kingdom.


  • “Seed” and “Leaven” both small make great!
    • Carries us to the Millennial Kingdom.
    • Christ’s reign manifest throughout the whole world.


  • Jesus captures concept thru what was known as smallest seed.
    • Agrarian illustration; this time a single seed sown.
    • What Jesus called, “the smallest of seeds” (v. 32).


[Appl] A way people have attempted to debunk the validity of Scripture, where science has discovered a smaller seed. This may be true, but Jesus’ speaking this way about seed with integrity of what was known by man at the time.


Jesus’ point was not a biological absolute but that the “seed” was categorically smallest to picture by ratio of the size of God’s Kingdom on earth.


This is the issue of modern verses ancient data. Of the categories of plants, the mustard seed was categorically part of the smallest group. And, by ratio a demonstratively larger bush than others.


Cypress tree came from a scientifically smaller seed. You also should note that the mustard tree is a bush. A bush grown 6 ft. round by 15 ft. tall.


Birds known Palestine known to surround bush for love the black seeds. Jesus spoke proverbially here.


Dr. L.H. Shinners (dir. Of herbarium, lecturer of Smithsonian)


Mustard seed smallest noticed by people of time of Christ. Barley, wheat, lentils, beans much larger seeds. Weed families with like or smaller seeds but like chickweed unnoticed. Those categorically wild, not planted like a crop. Only modern crop by comparison with smaller seeds is tobacco, American origin, not grown in old world until 16th century.


Plus, Jesus was using hyperbole. Like when Jesus said, “Whole town would come out.” “All of Jerusalem.”  


ESV  Matthew 17:20 He said to them, a"Because of your little faith. For btruly, I say to you, cif you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, dyou will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and enothing will be impossible for you."1 (Mat 17:20 ESV)


  • Illustrates, population of believing Christians is minuscule, compared to the world’s population.
    • An infinitesimally almost invisible bit of grain that can be “sown into a field” (cf. v. 31).
      • Tiniest measure of faith exercised like a micro-sized seed can fall to the ground.
      • Under right circumstances will germinate and grow “…larger than all the garden plants and become[s] a tree” (v. 32).


  • Christian circles may call natural phenomena a “miracle.”
    • Untrained mind we cannot track how something so small, matures into something that big.
      • From the “smallest of all seeds” to something:
      • “…larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree” (v. 32).


  • Large enough for “birds of the air to come and make nests in its branches” (v. 32).
    • Debate that this bush strong enough?
      • The point is unlikely bush makes branches strong enough to be populated by birds.
      • The unimpressive becomes very impressive.


  • Picture of what we are as God’s kingdom on earth.


  • Appears unimpressive; destined to be very impressive.


[Appl] Up to the end of the 20th Century people have been declaring that God is dead and so the church of America is falling away as irrelevant. We know this is largely since persecution for the church has been so mild in America. Making it difficult to see difference between Christianized and Christian.


The testimony of the church throughout the world, is that God has been moving the whole time in larger ways than the English-speaking world. What at present reflects a faint pulse. Think of the church throughout persecuted China, Korea, Japan, South America, and parts of Africa. All we hear of is depth and growth. This is what we hear about today.


Everything began with the small seed of Christ, born in a manger in an unknown town, Bethlehem, from an obscure hick town known as Jerusalem. This is Christ who built by calling 3 then 12 then 120 then 3,000 then whole cities that reached Gentiles that embedded the Gospel within nations.


Culture, Government, Language, Art all heavily influenced by God’s Word the Bible. The Puritans which generated America’s Pilgrims piloting the Mayflower, landing at Plymouth, originating our Nation. Would the US have formed with not Bible?


This time in history is only the interim between Jesus’ arrival and his second coming.

[Illus] “What cannot be accomplished one year, becomes astounding by comparison what can be accomplished in five or ten years.” 


  • Most positive version of sowing and reaping.
    • So, often I have underestimated this principle.
      • Easy to tell yourself, “I should not say anything to people about God or Truth or Christ or the way of salvation all because I am mustard seed.”
      • All have to offer is insignificant seed with no real promise for anything.


  • We would rather offer someone a lush and lively “tree” filled with birds, representing vitality!
    • No, instead we have simple seed that we need to courage to cast it.
    • We are a group of small churches, a smattering, wielding little influence.
      • Called the church militant.
      • Called the church triumphant.


  • Find hope to sow because you know seed and fruit outlives you.
    • Building the Mustard bush analogy, trees are amazing monuments of generations.
      • Rings from the stump tell long ancient stories of the age of a tree.
        • Some trees (inanimate) have withstood wars, life, and death, and raging weather events, storms.
        • Standing tall when society undulates and slumps.


  • A tree is Christ’s first picture of the flourishing kingdom, with life and vitality.
    • A refuge above what is down below.


  • [Appl] We are called as the small seed, to cast ourselves onto the ground with the confidence that this investment is never in vain.


[Question] “How large is this tree?”


  • As large as God’s triumphant kingdom.
    • Have you ever seen a sizable tree, full of foliage where a flock of birds have come to rest nestled inside, unseen by the outside observer.
    • Then without warning, a bird surfaces, taking flight.
      • Then like a dam break, hundreds of birds emerge like a cloud of activity, evacuating their residence to the air and another resting place.
      • The kingdom is pictured as the full tree full of birds.


ESV  Luke 17:20-21 Being asked by the Pharisees awhen the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, "The kingdom of God bis not coming with signs to be observed,

21 nor awill they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you."1 (Luk 17:20-21 ESV)


ESV  Revelation 11:15 Then athe seventh angel blew his trumpet, and bthere were loud voices in heaven, saying, c"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of dhis Christ, and ehe shall reign forever and ever." (Rev 11:15 ESV)


  • The tree is the new world God creates when reborn post destruction.
    • First the millennial Kingdom.
    • Then new heavens and new earth, filled with believers, covering the entire globe.
    • Every nation, every language, all people groups filling and swarming this planet, heaven, and earth.


ESV  Ezekiel 17:23 aOn the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. bAnd under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest. (Eze 17:23 ESV)


  • Birds are Gentiles.


ESV  Ezekiel 31:3-6 Behold, aAssyria was a bcedar in cLebanon, with beautiful branches and dforest shade, eand of towering height, its top among the clouds.1 4 The waters nourished it; the deep made it grow tall, making aits rivers flow around the place of its planting, sending forth its streams to all the trees of the field.

5 So ait towered high above all the trees of the field; its boughs grew large and its branches long from babundant water in its shoots.

6 aAll the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs; under its branches all the beasts of the field gave birth to their young, and under its shadow lived all great nations. (Eze 31:3-6 ESV)


ESV  Daniel 4:10-13 aThe visions of my head as I lay in bed were these: I saw, and jbehold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great.

11 aThe tree grew and became strong, and its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth.

12 aIts leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. bThe beasts of the field found shade under it, and bthe birds of the heavens lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it. (Dan 4:10-12 ESV)



  • This is the plan.
    • This is what we must know and live for as we invest.


  • Every hard thing we face on this planet, during this time must be measured within our next world.


[Appl] Kids finishing their semester of classwork with the full assurance that their vacation is around the corner. Adults anticipating resolution on a work project. Retirement.


[Illus] Paul calling believers to run in such a way, not for a perishable but an imperishable wreath or crown. The unfading crown of glory.  


  • Our investment looks miniscule in view of what seems so dominate and so foreboding and so negative in our people culture and yet we send seed.


[Illus] Business principle: “What you cannot achieve in 1 year, you can achieve in 5 years!”


  • Peter calls the Word, the “imperishable seed.”
  • “The grass withers and the flower fades but the Word of the Lord lasts forever!”
    • Word transcends time and space.
    • Word transcends people.


  • People are amazing beings, the pinnacle of creation, made in God’s image, mind, will, and emotions.
    • With that said, a person is never meant to be worshipped.
    • Pantheon of statues elevate human beings as objects to be worshipped, to be feared!
      • But putting human beings within this vision of God’s kingdom agenda quells the fear of man!
      • No fear! God’s kingdom is building!


[TRANS] Verse 33 introduces what is Jesus’ fourth parable in this list of seven, each marking a “secret” or revelation of the kingdom.


  • Both third and fourth parables make the same point opening the reality that exercising what appears to be a small amount of faith will produce an unimaginable yield.


ESV  Ephesians 3:20 aNow to bhim who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, caccording to the power at work within us, (Eph 3:20 ESV)


  • Important to know this is not the promise of pragmatism.
    • “This will automatically do that!”
    • “This will promise for you or your life that.”


  • Not “name it claim it” nor “health and wealth” gospel.


[Illus] Or modern failed experiment of “The young, restless, and reformed” hipster Calvinism, promoting trust in a Sovereign God while relying on cultural relevance, pushing the envelope in grey areas, and promoting church growth revivalism narratives that is 180 out from what reformed doctrine calls people to by way of humble trust.

Instead of shock jock celebrity lead pastor, you lead people to self-abasement before God who is in control.


[TRANS] The 4th parable and 2nd for our study on “Hope.”


  1. Hidden leaven (33-35)


“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened” (v. 33).


[KEY] Two Parables illustrate the Power of the Kingdom.


  • The seed represents growth and leaven represents permeation.
    • Seed, exponential.
    • Leaven, influential.
      • Both, growth.
      • From very small to very large.


  • Nuance of this parable is in what “a woman took and hid” the leaven.
    • Jesus uses a cooking scene.
      • A woman, un-named, baking in a kitchen, doing what is to be expected to cause bread to rise.
      • Jesus has used common, everyday life illustrations:
        • Farmer, Gardener, Landowner, Fisherman, Traveler.
        • Now, a woman, homemaker.


  • She just drops a little leaven, proportionately smaller amount than, “three measures of flour” (v. 33).
    • A small amount invisible within the process, influencing the whole of the bread.
    • A droplet or agent that creates the chemical reaction to influence the whole.


  • Little boys in home seeing mother take a piece of sour fermented dough from a former loaf and placing it inside of the dough, so that it permeates, bubbles, ferments, causing the dough to rise.
    • This prepares a large amount of bread.
      • Enough to feed entire army of kids/servants in a household.
        • Bread was a staple.
        • Needed a lot.


  • Three measures equal an Ephah.
    • “…three measures of flour” is the same amount Sarah used to feed the 3 angels/strangers (Christ).



ESV  Genesis 18:6 And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, "Quick! Three seahs1 of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes." (Gen 18:6 ESV)


ESV  Judges 6:19 So Gideon went into his house aand prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah1 of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them. (Jdg 6:19 ESV)


  • In the Old Testament, Israel celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread.


ESV  Exodus 12:18-19 aIn the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.

19 aFor seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, athat person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, bwhether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. (Exo 12:18-19 ESV)


  • Two reasons for the unleavened bread.
    • The rush to leave Egypt during Passover Angel.
      • No time for yeast to rise.


  • The separation from Egyptian culture.
    • Cutting the cord.
    • Any connection.


ESV  1 Corinthians 5:6-7 aYour boasting is not good. Do you not know that ba little leaven leavens the whole lump?

7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1Co 5:6-7 ESV)


ESV  Galatians 5:9 aA little leaven leavens the whole lump. (Gal 5:9 ESV)


  • Same illustration in reverse where “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” in terms of a small amount of sin will influence the whole body.


[KEY] Leaven is neutral.


  • Leviticus 23, Israel was to offer God leavened bread.


[Illus] Jewish mother for daughter getting married, give gift of little piece of leaven from last dough before wedding. Girl starts first loaf in new marriage as starter from her mother. Symbolized all best, good, blessedness of family carried to next family. Passing of righteous seed on to next generation. [MacArthur]   


[KEY] I cannot get away from the humility of a woman, behind the scenes who drops in some leaven, that represents a hidden part of the process.


  • What no one really thinks about but will certainly influence the whole outcome.
    • Likewise, we Christians just do our part, speak a word of grace, love someone in need, stand for truth.
    • No one really knows what or why we do what we do, and then God’s promise clearly says, this small work will transform not part but the whole, “all [is] leavened” (v. 33).


[Illus] It has been said that people name Christianity as their religion more than any other religion in the world. 1 billion 50 million. Islam is second.


  • What about our influence in Alaska?
    • Alaska missions.


Verses 34-35 offer what amounts to a commercial break in the flow of Jesus’ teaching.


  • I have already preached where Jesus explains the parable of the weeds (vv. 36-43).
  • Jesus gave explanation to his disciples.


[KEY] Verses 34-35 explain Jesus’ parable ministry not in terms of the disciples (those who hear and understand the parable) but for the crowds who in the main will not understand.

  • Verse 34 makes clear Jesus is now in a certain mode with the crowds, specifically that Jesus now is not speaking in any other way but parables (cf. v. 34).
    • Under the judgement.
    • Not understanding how things are trending.


  • Verse 35 pulls out the reality of hope for the believer.


Psalm 78:1-4 beings this out.


ESV  Psalm 78:1-4 A Maskil1 of aAsaph. bGive ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth!

2 aI will open my mouth bin a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,

3 things that we have heard and known, that our afathers have told us.

4 We will not ahide them from their children, but btell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and cthe wonders that he has done. (Psa 78:1-4 ESV)


[POINT] What is hidden from unbelievers is revealed to believers.


  • What is meant as a judgment for those who are willfully blind is an encouragement to hope to the believer.
    • What is all this going?
    • This is the joy of anticipation.


  • There is a great outcome of HOPE!
    • We need to hang onto this HOPE!
    • Jesus continues KINGDOM Motivations with the next parable.

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