The King's Kingdom
November 03, 2019 | Randy Smith
The King’s Kingdom
Sunday, November 3, 2019
Pastor Randy Smith
When Julie and I were traveling through central Illinois a couple weeks ago, we entered the capitol town of Springfield. As we were passing through the town, I couldn’t help but notice an eye-catching display in front of a church. It was seven doors leaning up along the side of a church. Each door was a different color and one word was pained on each door. The full sentence read, “God’s doors are open to all people.” Clearly the rainbow was to make a specific point. And clearly the sentence would resonate with all people, even “believers.” For we know biblically speaking that God is a loving, accepting and forgiving God. Good theology, right? Are God’s doors open to all people?
However, even ignoring the LGBT theme, there are two hidden biblical errors with the display. Errors that that even immature and naïve professing Christian might miss. Can you identify either?
Number one, God does not have many doors. In John 10:9 Jesus said, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” Jesus is not one of many doors. As He said, He is the door, not a door. Only He is the One who made peace between God and man through His work on the cross.
And second, God is an accepting God. He does indeed receive and forgive sinners. But He only receives sinners with a repentant heart. We just covered it in Luke 13:3. “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Coming to God means a general desire to forsake, not to celebrate, what He condemns in Scripture.
Bad theology (as we learned last week) can get us in a lot of trouble. In the former illustration it can literally give people a false assurance they are saved when in reality they are not. In last week’s sermon, bad theology can literally cause a person to rebuke Jesus to His face. Remember the “synagogue official” (13:14)?
So last week’s two sermons points were: “Heaven Arrives” and “Heaven Rejected.” Today’s message is a continuation of this account that Jesus had when He healed the woman on the Sabbath and was incorrectly reprimanded by the synagogue official. Jesus takes the opportunity as the leaders were humiliated and the crowd was rejoicing (13:17) to teach about the Kingdom of God. We could call this, “Heaven Compared.”
So, we have the Lord’s Table today, but before we begin this sermon we need to define a term that is used twice in these four verses (verses 18 and 20): “The Kingdom of God.” What is that?
The Kingdom of God is considered the reign of God. Naturally if Jesus is King, He must have a kingdom. Jesus said “[His] kingdom is not of this world.” Is the Kingdom of God here? Well, yes and no.
Yes, in the sense that King Jesus is reigning in all the hearts of those who love Him. He is our Lord. We submit to His commands. We honor Him with our lives. As He said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Mt. 3:23).
Yet in another sense, the Kingdom of God in its fullness has not yet arrived. The Lord’s will is not always done of earth. This world kind of seem to dominate the landscape. Evil is celebrated. God is mocked. Satan is on the loose. God’s people are persecuted.
So, in one sense the Kingdom has not arrived. We are still waiting for the consummation of the Kingdom when Jesus returns, rescues His people, destroys His enemies and establishes His everlasting throne to visibly display His lordship over all.
You see, the Jews were expected the later and when Jesus failed to deliver that in their timetable they turned on their Messiah. And since there was so much confusion on this issue during the days of Jesus, it is only fitting that our Lord teaches the people how to rightly understand the Kingdom of God through two parables in verses 18-21 – earthly stories with spiritual meanings and in this case, both about the kingdom of God.
External Aspects of The Kingdom (verses 18–19)
The first parable deals with the external aspects of the kingdom. In other words, what will be visible? Look with me at verse 18. “So [Jesus] was saying, ‘What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it?’”
So, the people were expecting Jesus to bring a magnificent Kingdom. You know the kind with armies and the exaltation of Israel and the overthrowing of Roman occupation and on and on. But what did they see externally? A few physically and spiritualty unimpressive followers and rejection of the Messiah by the majority of religious leaders. Even Pilate looked at Jesus and said, “So You are a king?” (Jn. 18:37). And then King Jesus is killed by the despised Romans and hung on a tree, a sign that He was cursed by God. The whole thing appeared to be a colossal failure. Where is the visible external kingdom?
Yet, the Kingdom of God is external, but not in a visible way they expected. Look at verse 19, “It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden; and it grew and became a tree, and THE BIRDS OF THE AIR NESTED IN ITS BRANCHES.” Does that help you? Let’s analyze that.
The mustard seed.> This is a familiar object Jesus used elsewhere in Scripture (Mt. 13:31-32 and Mk. 4:30-32). However, in those places the emphasis is on the smallness of the mustard seed and the large bush it produces. In other words, the Kingdom of God starts small and them grows massive with time – the twelve disciples to the biggest religion in the world. Here in Luke the emphasis is a little different.
The focus is not so much on the seed and its growth, but rather the magnitude of the bush that will bring a magnitude of blessings. Mustard bushes are among the biggest garden plants. They range from 10-15 feed in diameter when mature.
The point, the Messiah comes as a humble man, the Suffering Servant (according to Isaiah 53). Yet despite His humble beginnings where few are blessed, the Kingdom will grow within time to be a blessing to many (there is the point) or as the parable states, the birds…will find rest and shelter in its branches. People from all over will be blessed by Christianity.
Though it might not appear so in the first century, the Kingdom will grow and influence and impact countless people. The Kingdom of God will bless the world. Are there any results of that? Consider world history. Let me fire some facts out at you. What if there were no Christianity?
Put aside the supernatural, how many accepted societal morals come from Jesus Christ? From Christianity come the essence of human rights that all people are created equal. Women once viewed as the property of their husband were now given dignity and protection. Children were protected from the legal and applauded Roman infanticide. Even today, the pro-life movement largely is supported by Christians. Christians were the first people in history to systematically oppose slavery. Two-thirds of the American Abolition Society in 1835 were Christian ministers. Christian missionaries are largely credited for ending cannibalism in primitive societies and the Gladiatorial games in Rome.
Christians lead the world in compassion. They are the leaders in building hospitals and orphanages. Most food pantries and soup kitchens and rescue centers have a Christian foundation. Even co-called “Christian Nations” like America, lead the world in international compassion.
Biblical teaching developed the notion for the nuclear family – a husband and wife committed to each other for life, seeking to raise children with their own rights in a stable home. The same could be said for education. The Puritans passed the first law to require education. All but one of the first 123 colleges in colonial American were Christian institutions. Many of the world languages were first set to writing by Christian missionaries in order for people to read the Bible.
Our government is rooted in the Bible. The first constitution required that each aspect be grounded in Scripture. At least 50 of the 55 signers of the US Constitution were orthodox Christians. The branches of government, our foundational ideal of The Rule of Law, constitutional checks and balances, civil liberty and the existence of moral absolutes are all biblical.
Christianity believes there is a God who is the source of rational truth – not chance. It is argued that this gives rise to the possibility of scientific laws. Thus nearly all the founders of modern science were Christians – Keppler, Boyle, Pascal, Pasteur and Newton. How about Christians contribution to the arts – Dante, Donne, Shakespeare, Dickens and Milton?
>And the opposite? When towns and cultures exist without Christians? What is to prevent the darkness from entering? And to a larger degree when Atheistic men lead a nation? Hitler, Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot are responsible for over millions of murders.
Source: Faith Facts
Brothers and sisters, just consider what our church has done to bless the community and the world – clothing drives, disaster relief, protecting the unborn, food pantry, town clean-ups, community events, elder home visits, assistance to the persecuted church, … Who else among the organizations in the world are doing this?
It is the Christian religion that promotes respect for all life, love for all, including enemies, forgiveness, dying to selfishness (humility was never a virtue), caring for the poor and needy, purity in entertainment and the traditional family. These are good gifts to society. No wonder Jesus said this faith of His would be a large tree to provide shelter and security for all the birds of the air.
2,000 years later. Where are the kings of the great kingdoms noted throughout history? Do we know what they stood for? Can we even name them? What human being has been more influential on society than Jesus Christ?
Internal Aspects of The Kingdom (verses 20–21)
So, in additional to the external aspects of the Kingdom of God, let’s briefly go to the second parable and look at the internal aspects of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus begins with the same question stated in verse 18. Verse 20, “And again He said, ‘To what shall I compare the kingdom of God?” And his answer in verse 21, “It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”
So, to understand this parable we need to understand the story. Leaven is a small piece of fermented dough kept over from a former baking. Leaven is what would cause the bread to rise. Here we see that the leaven is mixed with three pecks of flour. That’s about 50 pounds of flour. Overall this would feed about 100 people. Why such a big number? Stay tuned!
So, what’s the point in relation to the Kingdom of God? While leaven is often used in the Bible as a contaminating negative influence, here it is positive to refer to the internal, silent, unseen, powerful working of the Gospel in the lives of our Lord’s followers.
So, the Jews were expecting physical signs of the Kingdom’s arrival. This parable speaks to something that is internally unseen and unexpected. There is visibly nothing dramatic when we turn to Christ. No fireworks. No change of physical appearance. No halo. That’s not how the Kingdom works. Rather, God like leaven, enters us. He permeates us. It’s a slow, ongoing inward transformation of making His people more like Himself. We could say (sticking with the example), it’s the continual rising of Christlikeness in us. In a sense, like leaven, it is hidden from the world. Yet in a sense it is impacting one batch at a time silently and powerfully so through each person God can change the world. Or as the parable states – feed a lot of people! That is how God’s kingdom expands. That’s how Christ produces loyal subjects to Him as their King.
So not exactly what the people were expecting when Jesus arrived. The Romans stayed in power. God’s visible reign did not come down to earth. The Jewish nation was not exalted above other nations. And worst of all, the professing Messiah was killed.
But if we study the prophecies of the Old Testament and truly listen to and understand the words of Christ, Jesus brought exactly what He intended. Yes, there will be a second time when Jesus will return and establish His righteous reign over all (The Lion of Judah), but this first time was in line with the Suffering Servant (The Lamb of God). He came to show us God and then die as a sin offering so those who receive Him may be given by grace, forgiveness and the gift of eternal life.
Yes, the Kingdom of God will come one day with power. The day will come when every knee will bow. But for now, it’s gradually growing externally to be a blessing to all (especially believers) who live on the earth. And that is because it’s gradually growing internally in the personal lives of those who have already bowed to the King as they are silently and powerfully and continually transformed into His beautiful image. They demonstrate their loyalty to the true King in the Kingdom where they now dwell longing for the King to return and consummate His ultimate Kingdom.