Summary: What exactly is the Kingdom of God like? Learn about its primary traits from stories about trees, yeast, and doors.
“Trees, Yeast, and Doors”
Have you ever wondered, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How does it operate?” If so, you wouldn’t be alone – Jesus knew people were wondering, so he asked the question for them! We find this in Luke 13:18-35. Would you turn there? I’d like to read the passage, then make some observations about God’s kingdom.
We see, first of all, in vs. 18-21 God’s Kingdom is encompassing in its aim. In other words, the scope of God’s kingdom is big!
This is shown, first, by the growth of the tree. It enlarges from small to big! So will God’s kingdom! It will one day consist of people from every race, tribe, nation and tongue…that’s pretty encompassing, eh? If you’re wondering what “birds” refers to, Ezekiel 17 is closest parallel, showing us that “birds” probably refers to other nations. That’s good news for us we Gentiles who wuld never have been grafted in were it not for the grace of God in allowing the “birds” to nest in the tree! Hallelujah!
This is shown secondly through yeast, an invasive product that works from the inside out! Of course, yeast is typically use to illustrate something sinful; but not in this case. It is merely showing that the effect of the Kingdom is unstoppable. Remember Matthew 16? Not even Hell can stop the body of Christ! Yes, as the kingdom expands to include all nations, it will truly be an encompassing kingdom comprised of all who believe regardless of race, color, language or location.
Recently we had some members go on mission excursions to Jamaica and Chicago. In both instances, people of different races were greatly affected by the Gospel. Why? Because this passage is coming true – the kingdom is expanding…encompassing…getting larger! If you’d like to read about those trips, go to our Web site at www.firstfamilyministries.com and click on missions. There you can read the online testimonies and view pictures of the many different types of people God is saving…the various “birds” that are all finding a home in this nest called God’s Kingdom.
We see, secondly, in vs. 22-30, that God’s Kingdom is exclusive in its claim. In other words, the character of God’s kingdom is narrow. To show them just how narrow it is, he answered their question – “Are you saying only a few of us will get in?” with a word of instruction – “make every effort.” ‘You bet only a few get in’ is the gist of his response – ‘only the few that believe!’ It’s not a kingdom of “easy-believism” or “anything goes.” No, not at all. It is a kingdom with one door – Jesus Christ, God’s only Son!
You’ll find it interesting to note that the phrase “Make every effort” is “strive” or “agonize” – not to “work for it,” but to apply whatever energy is needed to think correctly and respond appropriately because of what is true. Pride will tell us a different story, and it takes much effort to put down pride and trust God!
Notice the contrast in these verses about the kingdom’s exclusiveness: general familiarity (exposure) vs. individual intimacy (experience). They thought their ethnicity guaranteed them a seat. No, only believing personally. Those that do believe will come from the north, south, east and west (Gentiles); no doubt the last (in sequence at least) will be first and vice versa! (Jews heard first and yet will one day be the last to recognize Christ).
And the last few verses sum up both qualities of the kingdom – Israel is now under temporary blindness because she rejected the Messiah (exclusive), and the kingdom is open to all who believe (encompassing). And when he comes back again and every eye sees him, then they will say, “Blessed…” (This can’t mean the Triumphal entry because that was said by Galilean gentiles).
So what does this mean for us today? Well, since the kingdom is encompassing and exclusive, we need to adopt Paul’s attitude in Romans 1:16-17 – Energized without shame regarding the Gospel! We need to be eager to share the story! Won’t you read Romans 1:16-17 with me?
I need to caution you -- When you read that, don’t make this mistake and start acting like the genius in this video…
“Real Christians of Genius” video
You see, this genius was excited about facts only! Romans 1:16-17 says to be energized/eager about faith! Don’t make it about what you know only…make it about who you know first! Live a life of unashamed commitment to the encompassing and exclusive Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ! This is to be our response to an understanding of the Kingdom in Luke 13.
You see,this is why we are open-armed and outreach focused at First Family Church. Can you do the FFC posture? This is why we are committed to our community and the guests at FFC. This is why we teach your kids and ask you to do the same at home. This is why we encourage you to develop relationships with those in your neighborhood. This is why we ask for your involvement in serving others. This is why we ask for your money and ask you to think about the future land and building. This is why we have an aggressive staff who equip others.This is why: Because we are unashamed – energized – eager – about the fact that God’s kingdom is encompassing in its aim and yet exclusive in its claim. Let’s tell the world!