Things to Come, Lesson 1, The Kingdom of God, Luke 13:18-30
Luke 13:18-30, Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? 19It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it. 20And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? 21It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. 22And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.
23Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 24Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. 25When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: 26Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. 27But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. 28There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. 29And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. 30And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.
One of our Lord Jesus Christís continuing themes of his ministry was his desire for the coming of Godís kingdom to this earth.
In the Lordís Prayer starting in Matthew 6:9, the first requests that He instructed his disciples to ask of His father were these.
That your name be hallowed, that your kingdom come, that your will be done in earth as it is in heaven.
These three requests mean just about the same thing, and they tell us much about the kingdom of God.
"Hallowed be thy name" means: "Let Your name be hallowed, or honored"; or, "Bring all people to respect and reverence You."
What a strange thing this is in our culture as we see Godís name anything but hallowed.
How vain are the "My Gods" that are expressed so easily against Godís commandment to not take his name in vain.
"Thy kingdom come" means: "Extend Your rule over human lives."
"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" means: "Extend Your rule over human lives here and now as your rule already extends in heaven.
This means that Godís kingdom already exists but that Jesus Christ desires that it be fully extended to all on earth as it is fully extended in heaven.
As part of Christís desire for the kingdom to come he continues his instruction in this passage in Luke 13:18-30, to those in the synagogue who have witnessed his healing and his confrontation with religion.
For this confrontation with religion will continue until God intervenes and his rule extends throughout the Earth.
That is what the thirteenth chapter of Luke is mainly about, confrontation with religion and how it relates to Godís kingdom.
The theme, then, of this entire passage is the Kingdom of God.
It is an explanation about some aspects of Godís kingdom in relation to religion along with an urgent pressing by Christ of his listeners into the kingdom.
Jesus Christ brings up the subject of the kingdom and then asks of what shall he compare or resemble the kingdom?
It is a rhetorical question for he expects no answers from his listeners for he intends to answer the question himself by comparing the kingdom to a mustard seed, and to leaven.
He then brings to bear an explanation about many who strive to enter into the kingdom though a strait gate but are unable to do so which tells us that the kingdom of God has many false professors who wish to enter on their own terms.
This is where religion comes in, the desire for one to come to God on his own terms.
This fact then helps us to understand the comparison of the Kingdom of God with the mustard seed and the leaven.
Now before we discuss the mustard seed and the leaven we need to have a common understanding of the Kingdom of God?
The phrase "Kingdom of God" is not used in the Old Testament however it is clear that God is pictured as the King who rules over the affairs of men.
Psalm 47:2,3, For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth. He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet.
Psalm 103:19, The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
Daniel 4:17, This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
This emphasis in the Old Testament where we see God as being the King over all, sets the stage for Christís teaching in the Gospels about the Kingdom of God.
More than a hundred references to the kingdom appear in the Gospels, many of them being in the parables of Christ.
This preaching about the kingdom is a gospel message about a kingdom.
It is the good news of Godís kingdom.
It is not the gospel of Jesus Christ that Paul refers to in I and II Corinthians but it is the good news of the kingdom of God being extended and established on this earth.
The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that Godís kingdom is coming whereby the gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news of how you may enter the kingdom.
It is the "thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" good news that Jesus Christ is proclaiming here.
He spoke of it well in Mark 1:14-15, Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
For believing the gospel is the only way of entrance into the kingdom.
In His parables Jesus spoke of the kingdom in many different ways.
He said that the kingdom is like: a farmer, a seed, a yeast, a treasure, a pearl merchant, a fishnet in Matt. 13, an employer in Matt. 20, a king inviting people to a marriage feast in Matt. 22, and ten virgins in Matt. 25:1.
He spoke of the glad tidings of the kingdom in:
Luke 8:1, And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him.
And he spoke of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God in:
Mark 4:11, And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:.
What did Jesus mean when he spoke of the kingdom of God?
When He spoke of the kingdom of God He meant the rule of God.
The kingdom of God is the reign of God.
He was not speaking of a geographical area such as the Holy Land or the Temple.
He was not speaking of a political entity such as the nation of Israel.
He was not speaking of a group of people such as His disciples or the church.
Rather, the kingdom of God is simply God ruling.
It is the sovereign reign of God.
This rule is independent of all geographical areas or political bodies.
The rule of God includes a people to be ruled, and Jesus called upon people to enter the kingdom by believing the Gospel but the kingdom is not determined by the people to be ruled.
Jesus never said that people are to build the kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God exists in heaven and Christís prayer is that it also exist on earth.
The full establishment of the kingdom then is a work of God.
God will reign, and people can contribute nothing to that reigning or ruling of God.
As shown in this passage in Luke 13 the outward appearance of the kingdom on Earth indicates great growth.
The mustard seed sprouts and a great tree is formed.
The leaven increases the size of the meal.
The presence of a strait gate presupposes a wide gate.
In a sense the kingdom is already here for Jesus said in:
Luke 17:1, Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
In one sense, the fullness of the kingdom will not come until some unnamed time in the future as we are told in Matt. 25.
On the other hand, Jesus also said that there is a sense in which the kingdom of God had come in His own time.
Mark 1:15, ÖÖThe time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
And in Luke 11:20, But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.
So the kingdom of God is the rule of God which He extends over men and women through the ministry of Jesus Christ.
And the kingdom of God is also His rule which will be made complete in the future, a giant step on this earth taking place during the millennium with its full consummation in eternity.
Men and women can choose to have God rule over them by receiving Jesus Christ as the Lord of their lives.
We have seen on numerous occasions an assembling of immigrants in a courthouse who raise their right hands and pledge loyalty to their new country.
This choice demanded repentance which is the bowing of the knees to a new sovereign.
It was the complete and total surrender to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Because of this surrender we then are in the kingdom of God today.
We cannot build the kingdom of God but we can make the kingdom of God our priority and seek to fit within the kingdom of God.
Our instruction in this is clear, for we are told in:
Matthew 6:33, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
We are Americans but our first priority is to the kingdom of God in which we have been placed by Godís Spirit.
In His preaching Jesus regularly invited people to enter the kingdom of God, that is, to open their lives to the ruling of God.
He invited everyone.
This was not a welcome message to the religionists.
He did not restrict the invitation to the respectable people, or the religious, or the wealthy or powerful.
He spoke of God sending His servants out to highways and hedges to urge people to come in to the kingdom.
He even said in Matthew 19:24, that it is more difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
He said that the tax-collectors and prostitutes would go into the kingdom before the moral and religious people (Matt. 21:31).
God is very gracious and loving toward all people, and His kingdom is offered to everyone.
This message of the kingdom continues in the church as we see in the epistles.
They speak of eternal life, salvation, and forgiveness.
To speak of salvation is to speak of the kingdom for that is what we are saved to.
God is graciously giving salvation as a free gift and thereby he extends His kingdom.
He is giving it to anyone who will receive it through His Son Jesus Christ and thereby they enter the kingdom.
And this salvation begins now, as Jesus said, the kingdom is in the midst of you, and will be completed in the future for the kingdom will come like a thief in the night.
The Apostle Paul wrote of the present ness of the kingdom in:
Romans 14:17, For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
This understanding of the kingdom of God as to itís past extent, itís present extent, itís future extent, and itís eternal extent will open to us this passage in Luke 13.
For Christ here in Luke 13 is giving us a glimpse of its future extent prior to its fullest extent which will be revealed in eternity.