Summary: What is God’s Kingdom? How do we identify it? This one-off message (departing from the Waking the Dead series) examines the Kingdom of God.
Wildwind Community Church
David K. Flowers
April 24, 2009
If you read the gospels, you will see that Jesus was constantly referring to the Kingdom of God, or – in Matthew – the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus spoke of this kingdom as an actual thing. You don’t need a preacher to tell you that. Read it for yourself and you will see that Jesus believed deeply in this Kingdom. He believed in its reality. He believed in its ability to change lives. He believed that it was where he was from. And he believed that there was a way that you and I could be part of it. In fact, that is the thrust of most of his teaching – telling us about the existence of the Kingdom, and explaining to us how we can be a part of it.
Since the Kingdom was the central thrust of the teaching of Jesus, both those who are following him and those who are merely curious about following him must understand what the Kingdom was to him. It doesn’t matter what I think the Kingdom is. It doesn’t really matter what you think the Kingdom is. The critical question is what did Jesus mean when he talked about the Kingdom? Jesus told stories to illustrate the Kingdom to us, using everyday things like camels, seeds, trees, money, employers and employees, gates, and more. He made it as simple as possible so that we could understand it. So today and in the next three weeks after this we’ll be looking at what we can learn about the Kingdom from these stories Jesus told. We’ll start with where the Kingdom comes from and how it grows.
Let’s look at our text for today. It is two very brief stories (comparisons, actually) located in Luke chapter 13.
Luke 13:18-21 (NIV)
18 Then Jesus asked, "What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to?
19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches."
20 Again he asked, "What shall I compare the kingdom of God to?
21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."
Really? That’s what it’s like, huh? Like a mustard seed, and like yeast? That’s fine, but does this really tell us anything? Folks, the brilliance of Christ’s teaching is that if you’re not looking closely, you will miss it. It seems not only simple, but simplistic at times. But I want to show you four amazing things about the Kingdom that we can understand from these two simple comparisons.
First is that God takes the initiative to build the Kingdom. Jesus said “a man took and planted a seed”; “a woman took yeast.” In these comparisons, God is represented as taking initiative. Let’s say that we had the luxury of forgetting everything we had ever learned about God right now, and my job was to reeducate you – to start from scratch. If I had that challenge, I would begin by reading to you these brief stories Jesus told and telling you, “God is the ruler over a kingdom. And God has taken the initiative to build his Kingdom into our lives and into our world.