Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jan 20 2013 - Matthew 13:24-46 – The growth of the kingdom

These verses contain a number of Jesus' parables about the growth of the kingdom. The kingdom is likened to a mustard seed; the seed is small but grows into a large plant that might even be described as a tree – a tree to which birds flock to find rest. The work of God begun in the Lord Jesus may seem small and insignificant beside the might of the Roman Empire, but his kingdom will grow and increase remarkably – it has done so. And his kingdom is still growing and shall continue to do so until the earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.

The kingdom is also likened to yeast which a woman mixed into a large measure of flour. The yeast permeated the mix and caused all of the resultant dough to rise. Jesus is speaking of the way in which his followers will have an effect upon the world in which they live. Through them, the power of the kingdom will quietly touch and transform lives. More than that, it will affect the very shape and structure of society; it will transform culture. Yeast, salt, light, these are pictures Jesus used for the way in which his followers would influence and transform the world in which they live. Again, think of the way in which the Gospel has shaped the society in which we live – hospitals, schools, freedom from slavery, democracy… It has shaped our society and will continue to do so.

But there are other forces at work in God's world. The parable of the wheat and the weeds reminds us that Satan will not give up his kingdom easily. He is a spoiler who is also is at work in the world, sowing evil seeds that threaten the harvest of the kingdom – seeds of hatred, discord, jealousy, greed, selfishness and even self-destructive cravings. He is a destroyer; lives are blighted by him and social relationships are corrupted and perverted. But Jesus assures us that the satanic seeds will not overwhelm the kingdom of God. In the end they will be pulled up and destroyed so that the good harvest of the kingdom may be gathered in.

In the meantime, we live in a war zone. A battle is going on for the hearts and minds of men and women and for the future of the world. This is the real clash of civilizations – the clash between the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God and of his Christ. How are we engaged in kingdom warfare? Who is having the greater affect upon whom? This war is not dramatic. It is not accompanied with the blowing of trumpets or the sound of explosions. It is often as quiet and as hidden as the working of yeast through a measure of dough. But it is real and it is vital. How is my life affecting the lives of others around me? How am I engaged in propagating and cultivating the kingdom of God?

King Jesus, I have found in you the pearl of great price and I would like to spend my time in happy contemplation of my find. But the work of the kingdom is not over yet. Awaken me to your call to war. Help me first to deal with everything in my own life that is the work of the Enemy and is opposed to you. Help me to root it out and not allow it to grow and flourish. Help me then to work for the spread and triumph of your kingdom, not with violent assault upon others who do not follow you, but with the quiet influence of your grace and power. So may your kingdom come.

Jan 20 2019 - Psalm 8 – The majesty of God

Once, when travelling on a deserted road in Australia, we stopped to lie on our backs and look up at the sky. We had a wonderful view of the southern night sky with all its many stars and galaxies and the great sweep of the Milky Way. It was a breath-taking sight.

David the shepherd boy would often have watched over sheep by night and must have looked up to the sky above him and marvelled at the countless stars and the beauty of the moon with its changing face. The sight not only filled him with wonder at creation but also with awe at the one who had made all of this and whose power kept it daily in being. So he cries out, "Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"

We know so much more about the universe around us with its 100 billion galaxies each perhaps, containing 100 billion stars as does our galaxy, the Milky Way. Such knowledge of the universe only increases our wonder as we look into the night sky and fills us with awe concerning the one who created it all.

Nor should the immensity of the universe make us feel small and insignificant by comparison. David asks, "What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?" only to answer that we human beings have been "made a little lower than the angels", or perhaps, more accurately, "a little lower than God himself."

David echoes the opening chapters of Genesis where we read that human beings, male and female were made in the image of God and put in charge, under God, of all that he had made. They have been "crowned with glory and honour." There is something very special about human beings – about us. We are animals but more than mere animals. We were created to appreciate the wonder of the world that God has made, the intricacy, beauty and glory of creation. We have eyes to see its wonder even if we do not always look through the beauty of creation to the glory of its creator. And, as those created in the image of God, we have the ability ourselves to create things of beauty in art and in architecture and to appreciate the beauty of human achievement.

But the tragedy is that, despite all of knowledge and capabilities, we have made a mess of God's world. We have not cared for it as God intended but have exploited the world for our own ends. We have not lived well with each other but have exploited one another and oppressed one another. Instead of reflecting the glorious character of God we have been intent upon becoming gods for ourselves. The image of God in us has been twisted and marred.

That is why the author of the letter to the Hebrews applies Psalm 8 to the Lord Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 2:5-9). Jesus is the one in whom God's glory is most clearly revealed – he is the radiance of God's glory. Though he was, and is, the living God through whom all things were created, yet he was made for a little while lower than the angels – he took upon himself human flesh. And he did so that we might see clearly all that we were meant to be as human beings, created to reflect God's glory. And one day Jesus shall return and make all things new. The world to come will be under his perfect and gracious rule and will radiate the glory of God in every part just as God intended.

Creator God, give us eyes to see your glory in creation and in ourselves as those made in his image. Help us to see your glory especially in the Lord Jesus and in his death and resurrection and to long for that day when his glory will be fully revealed and at his return when all things will be made new. Help us now to live in submission to our beautiful Saviour and to live towards the day of his coming. May his beauty, his glory, be seen in us.

Peter Misselbrook