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).