First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, May 22, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“The Mysterious Kingdom!”
Last week we launched a new sermon series that looks at the topic of God’s Kingdom in the Bible. I felt the need to address this topic with all of us for a few reasons. First and foremost, that topic was so central to the life and mission of Jesus Christ. It seems to me that Jesus’ first sermon in Galilee and His last sermon in Jerusalem were on God’s Kingdom.
In Galilee, the gospel of Mark tells us that Jesus proclaimed the good news of God saying, “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near.” Luke also tells us that Jesus’ last sermon in Jerusalem after His resurrection dealt with the same topic, i.e., God’s Kingdom. Acts 1:3 states, “After his suffering, Jesus presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” If the Kingdom of God was so important to our Lord, it should be the same to us.
But there is a second reason for our interest in this topic and it stems from the fact that we, as Christ’s followers, are members of God’s kingdom. The work of God’s Kingdom should be near and dear to our hearts. No wonder that Jesus taught His disciples to always pray for God’s Kingdom. “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it’s in heaven.”
Last week, I gave a simple definition of what I mean by God’s Kingdom, and I said that it simply means God’s rule over our lives. It’s the joy of finding something of a greater value than all the riches of this earth. It’s the excitement of finding God or being found by God. It’s the righteousness, peace, and joy of the Holy Spirit.
I also pointed out last week that this righteousness, peace, and joy can be found in the most unlikely of places. The Kingdom dawns on the least of the least; the simple, the poor, the uneducated, the unworthy. God shows up in the most desperate and hopeless situations and places in our lives. Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”
This morning we will be looking at God’s Kingdom from a new angel. We will be looking at the mysterious nature of God’s Kingdom. Our primary Scripture text is Mark 4:26-29. In Mark 4:26-27, Jesus said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.”
This parable is not found in any of the other gospels; it is unique to the gospel of Mark. It teaches some very important truth that it still so relevant to our lives today. Let me share two this morning:
First: The Kingdom that is beyond our Comprehension
Often times we wrestle with what is happening in both our own lives and what is happening in our world. “Where is God in all of this?” has been the cry of so many through the ages. In our distress, often times we seek the power of God but to no avail.
In Mark 4 Jesus reminds us that our inability to see God working doesn’t mean that God is idle because He never has and He never will. The germination of the seed is a mystery. It takes place underground where you can’t see what’s going on. The farmer doesn’t know exactly how it all happens. Farmers just believe that the seed has life in itself. They have faith that over time the seed germinates, sprouts and grows. It’s what alive seeds do. We don’t see farmers standing out there in their fields every day saying, “Come on seed. Let’s grow now. I know you can do it!” Friends, let’s have faith in a God who is always at work and often times in miraculous and mysterious ways.
Second: Growing is a Life-long Process
There is a process to spiritual growth. There are steps to our growth and we cannot skip any of them even if we wanted to. This is what Jesus says in Mark 4:28, “First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens.” Spiritual growth is a life-long process.
The growth of the grain comes in stages. Our growth to the likeness of Christ as adults is a life-long process. It doesn’t happen overnight. Instilling the faith in the lives of our young ones is a journey. There is always some growth underground before it appears above ground. Much time is required before the seed has germinated and the plant has gone through all its stages and finally the time for harvest has come.
Friends, throughout the ages, and especially in our time, the church is so concerned with methods of expanding and growing God’s Kingdom, which is great. Often times, we switch methods; one method is discarded because the results are not what were expected, and others are adopted to engage people with what God is doing in our world. I truly believe it’s not a question of methodology. It is a question of faithfulness! Sow the seed. Sow it faithfully! Leave the growth to God!
This takes an enormous amount of patience — much more than we usually have. Much of the growing process is out of our hands! We would like to have it in our hands, but God builds His kingdom and, in His way, and timing the harvest is assured! Today we give thanks to God for a year of ministry to our young Christians. Our Sunday School Teachers did their best to engage the hearts of the kids and their family and draw them near to God’s Kingdom and for this, we are grateful. Many we never forget that God is always at work and growing is a journey. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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