Preached at St Francis' Church, Hilsea.
We have before us this morning a series of short parables about the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom is like a mustard seed, it is like yeast, it is like treasure, it is like a fine pearl, it is like a net.
So, kingship, and the idea of a kingdom, was a very real idea for the people of Jesus' time. At the time of Jesus, the Hebrew nation had Kings once again - from the family of Herod. But Herod the Great, and his Sons, only ruled as subsidiary Kings...under the Romans. They didn't have the power of the kings of old. They were rather more like our own Queen...somewhat ceremonial monarchs.
The kingdom of heaven was, for Jesus, a kingdom in which mighty arrogant rulers would be thrown down from their thrones, and humble and meek people would be raised up. His was a kingdom in which the poor would be blessed, and in which justice and mercy would supersede violence and war. Jesus spoke of a kingdom in which the hungry would be fed, the sick would be healed, and even the dead would be raised to new life.
The thing about both of these images is that they speak of something very small, very embrionic, which has the capacity to grow. A tiny mustard seed will grow into a large plant - large enough for birds to roost in its branches. The tiny grain of yeast will grow, and cause the dough to grow, until it makes a full loaf of bread. In both cases, it is part of the essential property of the mustard seed, or the yeast grain, to grow. And that is what Jesus promises will happen to the Kingdom of God.